Glenn McGrath said a nearly deserted MCG for England’s recent ODI series should sound alarm bells for the survival of the 50-over format.
Just over 4,000 fans packed into the vast MCG for the last of three 50+ games between the former rivals, leaving huge swathes of the venue completely empty.
Just nine days earlier, more than 80,000 people watched England’s T20 World Cup win over Pakistan at the same stadium, leaving players, fans and pundits united in their criticism of the schedule.
McGrath, a three-time ODI Cricket World Cup winner, believes the problem goes deeper than a badly planned series.
But he says serious thought must be applied to prevent the format from being pushed out of the calendar for good.
“It was so disappointing to see crowds like that, ODIs are really under pressure at the moment,” he said from his home in Queensland.
“Melbourne is classed as the sporting capital of Australia, if not the world, they love their sport. So for them the number they have made says a lot about where we are at.
“The powers that be really need to be careful not to offer games that are just for fun, games that don’t count for anything.
“The international calendar is quite difficult. I think they have to respect every series and every game, it must mean something.
“We have to protect the game. T20 cricket keeps growing, it’s fast, fast and exciting and Test cricket really is the ultimate. I think both of these formats will stand the test of time.
“I hope ODI cricket will continue – I have lots of fond memories of it and I would always say the ODI World Cup is more important than T20.
“But the format is under the pump and we have to see how we keep people coming to these games.”
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