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ICC plays down threat to one-day format after criticism of 'unsustainable' schedule

There has been speculation that a reduction in the 50-over format would be used to make the cricket calendar more sustainable; England Test captain Ben Stokes retired from ODI cricket earlier this month due to the intensity of the schedule

Ben Stokes celebrates in the dressing room after winning the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 Final against New Zealand
Image: Ben Stokes retired from the one day format and blamed his decision on the "unsustainable" schedule.

The governing International Cricket Council (ICC) played down threats to the game's 50-overs format on Wednesday and said a "healthy" number of one-day internationals will be played in the 2023-27 cycle.

The proliferation of lucrative domestic T20 leagues have cramped up cricket's already-strained calendar.

The congested cricketing schedule has come into laser-sharp focus since Ben Stokes' retirement announcement, where he stated the "unsustainable" schedule was a major factor in his decision to depart the 50-over game.

It is not just Stokes who has sacrificed the ODI format as earlier this month, South Africa abandoned their ODI tour of Australia as it clashed with the launch of their domestic T20 league, rising their chances of qualifying directly for next year's World Cup in India.

ICC chief executive Geoff Allardice said structuring of the game's three formats was discussed at the governing body's annual general meeting in Birmingham where the Future Tours Programme (FTP) 2023-27 was finalised.

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Ben Stokes is given a standing ovation by fans as he signs off from ODI cricket for the final time in his career.

"I think at this stage there is some discussion, not specifically about ODIs, but about the mix of formats within the calendar," Allardice told a video conference.

"Countries have been, in their FTPs (future tour programs), are still scheduling a healthy number of ODIs as well.

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"So in the FTP, I don't think you'll see any significant change to the number of ODIs or the proportion of ODIs as being planned."

Australia test batsman Usman Khawaja has said one-day cricket was "dying a slow death", while former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram called the format a "drag".

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Former England captain Eoin Morgan says he's a 'little surprised' at former teammate Ben Stokes' retirement from ODI cricket and that his decision should be a wake up call to the cricket administrators.

Allardice conceded some members put "particular attention on their domestic leagues" but insisted their commitment to international and bilateral cricket was "as strong as it's ever been".

"Each of them has to manage that balance between domestic competitions, their international schedule and the management of their players," he added.

"Each of those boards is in a slightly different situation. So there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to that balancing issue."

ICC chairman Greg Barclay also acknowledged that franchise-based leagues were expanding fast.

"So there's a lot of pressure on the calendar, but I'm not sure it's a tipping point," said the New Zealander.

Watch the first T20 international between England and South Africa, from Seat Unique Stadium in Bristol, live on Sky Sports Cricket on Wednesday. Coverage starts at 6pm with the first ball at 6.30pm.

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