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SA's decision to abandon ODIs against Australia has left cricket at a tipping point: Atherton

Manchester, July 22 (IANS) Former England captain Michael Atherton feels that South Africa’s decision to abandon their three-match ODI series in January against Australia to focus on their upcoming T20 league has left cricket at a tipping point.

On July 13, South Africa announced that they were pulling out from the three-match men’s ODI series against Australia in January 2023 in order to ensure “long-term sustainability of new T20 League”.

“I think the game is at a tipping point which has long been coming probably since the advent of the IPL. You could argue the tipping point has come now with South Africa recently taking the decision to abandon three ODIs In Australia next year as they want their best players available for their franchise tournament.”

“They are prepared to slightly imperil their participation in the next World Cup to do that. That tells you all you need to know about where the balance of power is between international and franchise cricket. What will give is bilateral international cricket,” said Atherton on Sky Sports.

The development of South Africa abandoning their ODI series against Australia came before England Test skipper Ben Stokes announced his ODI retirement, citing the “unsustainable” workload of a hectic cricket schedule. Former England batter Mark Butcher thinks that the future of 50-overs cricket in England is very grim.

“I think the future of 50-over cricket in this country looks pretty bleak for many reasons. The obvious one is that the Royal London Cup is now a second-rate competition with all of the better players either playing for England or in The Hundred.”

“The ones that are playing 50-over cricket want to play something else. It’s great for development but given the choice, they would rather be playing in a competition with more eyes on it. You are kind of signing the death warrant of the 50-over format with the way it is being played. It is quite extraordinary to witness what is happening.”

Eoin Morgan, the 2019 ODI World Cup winning captain who recently retired from international cricket, believes that the world is getting closer to players opting to play specific formats of the game in a hectic schedule.

“ODI cricket has been forced a little bit out of the game at the moment. I don’t see Test cricket going anywhere, I don’t see T20 going anywhere. Clearly, they are the two formats that have been identified by Ben, certainly, and other players around the world. I think we are getting closer and closer to players choosing earlier in their career.”

–IANS

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