Cricket Australia have set themselves an "ironclad" rule that their World Cup squad won't have its preparation hampered by a proposed new two-innings one-day format. The new game is likely to be trialled in state cricket this summer, while Australia's one-day specialists are involved in the home ODI series.
England and South Africa already play 40 overs instead of 50 in their domestic one-day tournaments but two innings is another step away from the existing format. Michael Hussey, who will be a key part of Australia's bid to win a fourth successive World Cup, said he wanted to stick with 50-over cricket.
"I know in England they play a 40-over competition," Hussey said on the Melbourne radio station SEN. "I'm personally not a fan of it. In international cricket you play 50 overs and with the World Cup it's 50 over cricket and in Australia we're hosting a World Cup in 2015.
"I'm really keen to stick with the 50-over format. It is a lot different. That extra 10 overs is a lot different in the way you go about the game and I'd like to see us stick to the 50-over format."
The World Cup on the subcontinent in February and March will also be a special time for Mitchell Johnson, who was part of winning squad in 2007 but did not get the chance to play a game. He said his focus was squarely on the 50-over version heading in to the title defence.
"We've got the 50-over World Cup coming up and I'm really looking forward to that, it's a big deal for me," Johnson said on the Sydney radio station 2UE. "I still enjoy playing 50-over cricket. Obviously it's been a bit of a problem over the last couple of years, a lot of talk about it and how we can improve it. I guess they're just trying to look at different ways of improving it."
George Bailey, the Tasmania captain who will also be leading Australia A in 50-over and four-day cricket this month, expressed some reservations about altering the format so close to a World Cup. Bailey is yet to make his debut for Australia but would be one of many players keen to impress at domestic level to push for a place in the squad.
"I'd like to think that six or seven months out form a World Cup, they wouldn't tinker with one-day cricket too much," Bailey told reporters in Hobart. "I think while there's a World Cup still to be played for it we'd better keep practicing that."
The Cricket Australia board was on Friday set to discuss a trial one-day format in which each team would have two innings, of either 20 or 25 overs. The regular 50-over FR Cup will still be played at the start of the summer and a Cricket Australia spokesman said any trial would not be allowed to compromise Australia's World Cup preparations.
"Basically the trial will all happen at times when those [World Cup] players have international commitments," the spokesman told the Australian. "At any time they are going anywhere near interstate cricket, interstate cricket will be the traditional 50-over format. That's one of the ironclad rules of engagement for this project. Don't do anything that messes around with the four-in-a-row mantra."