One-day cricket in its familiar form could soon become a thing of the past after the Cricket Australia board gave the green light to a trial of split-innings state games next summer. If the new format is successful, Cricket Australia will take the idea to the ICC as a plan to keep ODIs alive, meaning the 2015 World Cup could feature a split-innings format.
Although there has been no decision on how many overs each innings would be - four innings of either 20 or 25 overs are the most likely - CA will finalise their concept in the coming weeks. The first four rounds of the FR Cup will be played under the existing rules before the new format is introduced for the remaining six rounds, which will start in February.
By then, Australia's World Cup squad will have departed, so their preparations will not be affected. James Sutherland, the CA chief executive, said the innovation was intended as a way to retain all three formats of the game, with the middle portion of 50-over innings having become largely predictable.
"It provides a mechanism by which in the eyes of the consumer we can distinguish the one-day game a little bit more from the Twenty20 format of the game," Sutherland said. "There's no doubt that there's some feedback there that suggests that parts of the one-day game are a little bit predictable. That's certainly something that we are looking to address.
"One of the things that's come back as the feedback from fans and also from a television audience perspective is that by having a split innings, after the dinner break, no matter, you will get to see both teams bat in the evening. That is something that people who might be going to the game after work or coming home after work see as being a very significant plus for this format."
The popularity of Twenty20 cricket has left ODIs in a difficult position, somewhere between the dynamic shortest format and the traditional Test matches. England and South Africa have already reduced their one-day domestic competitions to 40 overs a side, in an effort to eliminate some of the less exciting middle overs.
The ICC has been searching for ways to keep 50-over cricket relevant, and next year's World Cup on the subcontinent could feasibly be the last one played in the existing format. Sutherland said it was hard to predict how one-day cricket would look by the time of the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
"If you're suggesting that the current playing conditions that one-day international cricket is being played under today is going to be the same in 2015, then I would suggest that it's probably not the case," Sutherland said. "There's a question there about how radically the playing conditions may have developed or changed. I honestly don't know the answer to that but what we at Cricket Australia are looking to do is to find a landing spot with a new format.
"We have also been encouraged to innovate through the ICC cricket committee, who met not long ago. They were very, very encouraging of full members looking to explore innovations within the playing conditions and certainly that's been raised at chief executive committee level in recent times."
Cricket Australia will now move to finalise the details, although it seems certain that teams will resume their second innings from the point where their first innings concluded. Sutherland said feedback from fans had played a major role in the split-innings concept, which has also been trialled this year in England's county 2nd XI competition.