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Multi-format series the key to reviving one-day cricket

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23rd July, 2019

The 2019 Cricket World Cup was a colossal success that had fans captivated right to the final ball of the tournament – and, as it turned out, beyond.

Prior to the tournament, Australian cricket fans had lamented the tedium of one-day cricket, pointing to a lack of significance as one reason for the public’s loss of interest.

But the engrossing spectacle in England and Wales proved that 50-over cricket is not dead. With the proper context, ODIs can continue to offer excitement and entertainment, as the tournament set new TV and digital records worldwide.

An average 710,000 Australians tuned in to the first innings coverage of the semi-final loss to England on Nine Gem, with another 389,000 average via Foxtel.

But now, the format needs to innovate to avoid a return to monotony.

As we await August’s men’s Ashes series, the nation’s cricketing attention turns to the women’s rivalry. Unlike the men’s, the women’s series is decided on a points system. Comprised of three T20s, three ODIs and one Test match, four points are awarded for a Test victory, with two points earned for a limited-overs win. The overall points leader at the end of the series is crowned champion.

Australias Ellyse Perry bats during the Womens T20 Triangular Series.

AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool

So why not introduce similar series across the men’s summer?

That’s not to say we should change the format of the Ashes, but multiple formats would help to revitalise series against other nations during the home summer.

The 2019-20 home schedule opens with an arbitrary, three-game T20 series against Sri Lanka at the end of October, before three T20s against Pakistan as preparation for a two-Test series in November.

Instead of three separate, disjointed series against different nations, why not play one side in an epic, month-long contest that includes all three forms of the game?

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The women’s Ashes drew criticism this week when a draw in the lone Test ensured Australia retained the urn with three T20s yet to play. An adapted design for the men’s summer – featuring two T20s, followed by two ODIs and two Tests – would ensure that the result is in question until final matches.

Maintaining the points structure, one side would still be able to tie the series even if they lose all four limited-overs games.

The introduction of multi-format competitions would immediately provide a setting for one-day cricket that has been absent for some time. Doing so would give renewed meaning to all short-form cricket, while re-engaging fans and reviving 50-over cricket in the process.