Usman Khawaja – ODIs ‘dying a slow death’ but Tests remain strong

Usman Khawaja believes ODI cricket is “dying a slow death” and he’s not surprised England’s Ben Stokes has quit the format.

Stokes, 31, brought the demands of international cricket on players into sharp focus when he confirmed his 105th ODI appearance for England against South Africa would be his last.

Stokes, who has taken over as England’s Test captain, said authorities can’t treat players like “cars” and there was “too much cricket rammed in” to realistically compete in all three formats – Test, T20Is and ODIs – at international level.

Test opener Khawaja, who hasn’t played limited-overs cricket for Australia since 2019, said it’s clear to him something has to give on the international calendar – and it’s most likely to be 50-over matches.

“My own personal opinion – I know a few of the guys are very similar – you’ve got Test cricket, which is the pinnacle, you’ve got T20 cricket, which obviously has leagues around the world, great entertainment, everyone loves it, and then there’s one-day cricket,” he said.

“I feel like that’s probably the third-ranked out of all of them. I think personally one-day cricket is dying a slow death…there’s still the World Cup, which I think is really fun and it’s enjoyable to watch, but other than that, even myself personally, I’m probably not into one-day cricket as much either.”

Khawaja’s thoughts were expressed as Cricket Australia released tickets for this summer’s international calendar on Friday. That schedule opens with ODIs against Zimbabwe and New Zealand, all to be played in Townsville and Cairns in September ahead of October’s Men’s T20 World Cup.

It’s a far cry from the glory days of 50-over cricket in the 1980s and 1990s when an annual triangular series in Australia packed stadiums and turned into a television winner for Cricket Australia and the Nine Network.

The future of ODI cricket was also brought into sharp focus when South Africa put their World Cup hopes in jeopardy by withdrawing from their series against Australia in January to prioritise their new T20 league

Khawaja said while he didn’t think it was impossible to be a three-format player in the modern era, it wouldn’t be an easy life.

“Not impossible, very tough,” Khawaja said. “So much travelling. If you’re playing all three forms of the game, you’re not at home at all really. And then the demands on your body, mentally, physically and a lot of the guys might be playing also the IPL

“There’s a lot of cricket going on. Yes, you get to pick and choose, I guess, in certain respects what you want to play but look it can be very tough at the moment.”

However, he retains a bright view on the future of Test cricket ahead of a summer where Australia will face West Indies and South Africa as they push for a place in next year’s World Test Championship final.

“The majority of people I talk to still love Test cricket,” he said. “It’s my favourite format. Think Test cricket still has a very strong presence so don’t really see that going anywhere. Think both [Tests and T20] can be quite easily balanced, but then you ask yourself the question does one-day cricket give.”

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