The end of Bilateral ODI is here with SA’s absence

End of Bilateral series comes to an end

Sinchan Saha

Modified Jul 13, 2022 2:11 PM IST

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With South Africa able to put their direct qualification to the following year’s ODI world cup in danger by their withdrawal, the fate of cricket’s monogamous relationship with T20 Franchise leagues is crystal clear.

The end of bilateral cricket series, particularly in ODIs, is here. South Africa have withdrawn from their ODI series in Australia as it clashes with their new T20 franchise league. With the expanding T20 franchise leagues infringing the already packed international timetable, and with the support and the interest of the monetary aspects, this wasn’t an astonishment.

Uday Shankar, the previous head of Star and Disney India (Image Source: The Indian Express)

In any case, South Africa’s withdrawal stands out for the risks involved.

They have put their direct qualification to the 50-over ODI world cup next year at stake by their withdrawal as they stand to lose significant points.

The financial matters of cricket, we have been told for some time now, doesn’t uphold Test and “meaningless” bilateral series. Uday Shankar, the former head of Star and Disney India, had once let the media know how there is no market for Test cricket and just the largesse of the telecasters is running it.

Both Test cricket and the bilateral ODI series are at stake. As a matter of fact the timetable has already changed. Increasingly few ODIs are being played nowadays. In any case, it shows up significantly rearranging the decks on cards.

“Do we want to save cricket or not? You think if Kerry Packer didn’t do what he did, what would have happened to cricket. Do you need 13 Test matches in a year – 65 days! How many holidays do you get? 20 days? Is that enough to watch all the Tests?”

Shankar had told The Indian Express in 2017.

Only days after his network had coughed up 16,000 crore to get the media rights for the Indian Premier League between the years 2018 and 2022. Presently, in its most recent iteration, that figure has cosmically ascended to 43,000 crores.

He additionally talked about how the financial aspects are absolutely determined by what the fans need.

“The fans have spoken that they love the T20 format. It’s easy to misunderstand a broadcaster’s perspective because we seem to be the guys who are in it for the money, which is true. But you make money only when the fans like something.. This whole model of going and buying ever-more expensive cricket rights is not sustainable. Consumption of sports here is the lowest in the world. Until that changes, the business of sports is going to be tough.”

He added further

An early indicator of Brand IPL developing regardless of the pandemic respite was the offer of two new teams earlier this year: BCCI procured a sum of $1.7 billion, with the Lucknow franchise going for 250% more than the base cost.

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The ICC tournaments would get by and the ICC has attempted to give significance to Tests by having a Test Championship. However, it probably won’t prove enough.

“I don’t think Test cricket needs to be shut down. Staple has to be a shorter format, and Test has to be a fine-dining experience for special occasions. ICC have ODIs and T20, and they do well. The whole stature changes when there is an ICC tournament. If magically all the stadiums were to be full and everybody who loves cricket was watching Test cricket, we would kill each other to go and bid for the Test rights,”

Shankar had said. His wish is now being granted.