Adam Gilchrist predicts that one-day cricket will be ''history'' within three years.
Australia's greatest wicketkeeper-batsman believes the declining format, on the slide in popularity since the ascent of domestic and international Twenty20 cricket, will likely not last beyond the 2015 World Cup, to be hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
Cricket authorities have conceded the game is in a transitional phase, and as they attempt to maintain the sanctity of the test format and manage the rise of the 20-over revenue spinner and a heavy international schedule, the original limited-overs version is the odd one out.
Gilchrist, who made his name internationally in Australia's one-day team before a brilliant test career, does not rate its chances of survival.
''I reckon about three years, I see it, and it will be pretty much gone,'' he told Triple M's Summer Session. ''There is a World Cup in 2015 - I believe TV deals are all locked away to get to that, and those commitments will be fulfilled. But after that I think it will be history.
''I suspect that one-day cricket may be obsolete in about three years' time. I suspect that after that the appetite for it might diminish, and all the TV programmers and the administrators will be focusing on the two other forms. Twenty20, let's face it, is the revenue stream that keeps the longer version alive. I just suspect that's the way it's headed.''
More than 30 years after limited-overs cricket in coloured clothing took off in Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket revolution, crowds have dropped off dramatically in recent years - a decline hastened by the T20 boom.
Figures presented to Cricket Australia's new board in October demonstrated the format's fall from grace. While CA continues to throw its support behind the one-day game before it hosts the World Cup, it faces a major challenge to restore or even retain crowd numbers. A total of 456,264 spectators attended ODI matches in the summer of 1999-2000, a figure that plummeted to 251,916 last season.
There has also been consternation about seemingly meaningless stand-alone ODI series such as Australia's five-match series in England in the winter, and with the format itself, with innings that often meander along between the 15th and 40th overs and only come alive at the start and finish.
CA maintains that television ratings for ODIs remain strong, and the format will be a plank of the new five-year domestic broadcasting rights deal to be finalised in the new year.
But Gilchrist argues it will ultimately become consumed amid the demand for cricket's other two forms. ''I'd personally be a bit disappointed. I hope it doesn't,'' he said.
CA spokesman Peter Young said the governing body did not share Gilchrist's views.
''The World Cup is the world's fourth biggest sporting event, it's got a viewing audience of a billion people,'' he said.
''Our own research shows when you measure the affection of cricket with the Australian public that ODI cricket has still got a lot of life left in its legs.''
- Sydney Morning Herald
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