India v Australia ODIs
Five-match ODI series to vanish: CA chief
Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland sheds light on long-awaited plans for an ODI league and Test championship
Andrew Ramsey Senior Writer
9 September 2017, 11:09 PM AEST
The month-long limited-overs campaign that Australia undertakes in India from next week is likely to be among the last of its ilk if ambitions for a global ODI league table, already in advanced planning, are brought to fruition.
The reigning World Cup champions arrive in India this weekend to begin a series of five ODIs and three T20 Internationals against India, a schedule that will be largely replicated in the UK next June when Australia tackles England in five ODIs and a 20-over fixture.
And in keeping with decades past, whereby ODIs have become a staple of Australia's international cricket calendar in the post-Test matches January holiday period, the Ashes rivals will square off in five 50-over fixtures from January 14 next year.
But Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland has confirmed that if the proposed introduction of an ODI league table goes ahead to provide 50-over cricket with relevance and context in the years between the quadrennial ICC World Cup, then it's unlikely future bilateral ODI series will exceed three matches.
A meeting of the ICC's Chief Executives Committee earlier this year outlined a draft schedule for a 13-team ODI league structure that would begin in 2020, after the 2019 World Cup in the UK, and run across two years during which all teams would play two mandated series of three matches at home and away.
The period between the ODI league table play-off and the ensuing World Cup tournament would then become a window for bilateral one-day fixtures to allow competing nations to focus on World Cup preparations.
While individual boards will remain free to program those additional bilateral ODI series should the international schedule allow, Sutherland believes the era of the lengthy limited-overs tournaments (such as Australia's seven-match campaign in India in 2013) is all-but over.
"I don't think you'll see any country playing more than three one-day matches in a series in the future," Sutherland told cricket.com.au.
"They might intersperse them with some Twenty20 matches as well, but I don't think you'll see many five-match one-day series … if the plans at ICC level unfold for a Test championship and a one-day league.
"The contemplation around one-day cricket in the future is that each country hosts six one-day matches and plays six away matches as part of that league, so that's likely going to be the limits of it."
The proposal for an ODI league table that would see each three-match series contribute points that lead to a play-off to decide the champion ODI team of that two-year period, and which would also potentially dictate qualifying for each ensuing World Cup, requires ratification by the ICC Board.
It is hoped the introduction of a table will generate greater interest among competing and third-party nations in the outcomes of ODI series that have previously existed as standalone entities devoid of context and broader relevance.
It will also help to address the wide inequities in scheduling between cricket nations, as shown by Sri Lanka having played 51 ODIs since the most recent World Cup Final in 2015 while the West Indies have played just 31 in the same period.
The Chief Executives' Committee meeting last June also produced a proposal for a rolling championship of Test cricket to possibly be introduced as early as 2019, with the two top-ranked nations to play-off for the global Test crown at the end of each two-year cycle (likely to be perpetually staged at Lord's).
Sutherland confirmed that while the final details of the proposal are yet to be nailed down, it has been discussed by the game's senior administrators "in quite a high level of detail" during the past year and he is confident it will re-define the profile and presence of Test cricket.
"If you think about the current series we've just completed in Bangladesh, that had real context for the two countries involved but that context would be even more significant and highly elevated if there were points at stake as part of a Test championship," he said.
"What amplifies through that is third-party interest, so other countries, by extension, would have an interest in that series because it had a bearing on where others fitted on the ladder.
"I think that's a real positive because there are consequences that come with winning and losing that are far greater than just the bilateral series result as it stands.
"Taking that a step further, the ladder and the opportunities to qualify for a playoff and play in a world Test championship – I can’t think of any player that wouldn’t be aspiring to be a part of a major event like that."
The current proposal sees the top nine Test nations (excluding Zimbabwe, who have played just five Tests since 2014, as well as Afghanistan and Ireland who were recently granted Test status) undertake three series at home and away throughout each two-year cycle.
But Sutherland indicated that while the new proposal would provide challenges in scheduling lengthy Test series given the likely competing demands of an ODI league table and an increased number of global T20 competitions, marquee five-Test series such as the Ashes would endure.
"There's some permutations and computations that need to be worked through in terms of how the points system works (for a Test championship), but that level of detail has been explored at management level and is quite advanced," he said.
"We're confident that an event like an Ashes series can be preserved with that number of matches and won't lose any of its current appeal, and in fact will only increase it by virtue of having the extra context of a Test championship."