Melbourne: Future of the 50-over game looks in serious doubt with Australia -- following in the footsteps of England and South Africa -- toying with the idea of a new 40-over format for the domestic circuit next season.
According to a report in `The Australian`, Cricket Australia is planning to introduce a new 40-over format with each team batting twice for 20 overs in the domestic circuit next season.
The new format resembling two Twenty20 matches will be discussed during CA`s board meeting on Friday and a detailed proposal to introduce it at the state level next season will be considered, the report said.
"The public has been quite clear to us in its communication through extensive research and the strong message has been that we are at peril if we sit on our hands and don`t listen to the public message around reviewing and refreshing the format," the report quoted a CA spokesman as saying.
CA is worried that 50-over cricket may become irrelevant by the time Australia and New Zealand host the 2015 World Cup and is hoping its new concept will be taken up globally in the next two years.
The new format is likely to replace the existing 50-over format in the Ford Ranger Cup at the start of the upcoming summer next year even though Australia will continue to play 50-over matches for at least next two years.
England and South Africa have already reduced their domestic limited-overs tournaments to 40 overs and now Australia`s decision to give it a try has cast a cloud of doubt over the future of 50-over cricket.
Australian Cricketers` Association, however, fear that introducing the new format so close to next year`s World Cup would leave the players with less practice for the 50-over quadrennial event.
"We`re certainly concerned about that, there will need to be some thorough discussion, obviously quite quickly since we`re talking about next season," ACA president Darren Lehmann told Australian Associated Press (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," he added.
Cricket Australia, however, insisted that the move would not jeopardise Australia`s World Cup defence.
"Our view is that you can change the domestic format without affecting preparations for the World Cup," the CA spokesman said.
In this new format, wickets lost in the first innings will carry over into the second and with each team having to play two innings, both sides will bat during the all-important night session regardless of who wins the toss.