Cricket Australia is considering introducing a completely new limited-overs format as soon as next season, in what could be another nail in the coffin of the 50-over game. The Australian has reported that the CA board will this week discuss a domestic tournament of 40-over games, with each team to bat for two innings of 20 overs.
In effect, the format would resemble two Twenty20 matches played back to back, although wickets lost and runs scored would accumulate over the full 40 overs. The existing 50-over FR Cup is likely to be played at the start of the upcoming Australian summer with the new competition, if approved, set to take place in the new year.
Such a move would raise questions over the future of the World Cup, with England and South Africa already having reduced their domestic limited-overs tournaments to 40 overs. Making the change so close to next year's World Cup could also rob some players of practice in the 50-over format, although Australia's ODI team will continue playing the longer games.
"We're certainly concerned about that, there will need to be some thorough discussion, obviously quite quickly since we're talking about next season," Darren Lehmann, the president of the Australian Cricketers' Association, told AAP. "We're happy they're talking about reviewing the game and improving it, as far as how far they go, that has got to be discussed at length.
"Maybe reducing the overs to 40 per side is not a bad start, whether we can do two 20 over innings is something we need to discuss. My personal preference is to go to 40 overs per side, but I'm open to all ideas to improve the game."
While Cricket Australia are reluctant to discuss the idea in detail, a CA spokesman said there was no reason to be concerned ahead of Australia's World Cup defence. "Our view is that you can change the domestic format without affecting preparations for the World Cup," the spokesman said.