- Afghanistan captain Shahidi urges prioritization of ODIs amid concerns about a crowded T20 calendar.
- South Africa face challenges with the relevance of 50-over format ahead of co-hosting the 2027 ODI World Cup.
- New selection policy allows South African players participating in T20 leagues to remain eligible for international competitions.
In a press conference ahead of what could be his penultimate appearance at the ongoing cricket tournament, Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi expressed concerns about the diminishing importance of ODIs in the international cricket calendar. Currently standing at sixth place with eight points, Afghanistan need a convincing victory against South Africa in their last league game and hopes for a loss for Pakistan against England to secure a spot in the semi-finals.
Shahidi emphasized the significance of fifty-over cricket, stating,
“Right now, there are too many leagues, too much T20 cricket, and I think 50-overs and Test cricket are more important. If we have those games, we will definitely improve more. We are expecting our cricket board and ICC to give us more matches for our improvement.”
Despite Shahidi’s expectations, the discontinuation of the World Cup Super League means that Afghanistan is no longer guaranteed series against the top teams. The Future Tours Programme (FTP) reveals a leaner calendar, with only six ODIs against top-eight teams and none against Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa, or Pakistan. Shahidi remains hopeful for change, stating,
“We have a cricket board and management, and we are hoping they take a lot of series with other teams. There will be 50-over cricket. I am expecting that.”
Afghanistan’s guaranteed sixth-place finish in the current World Cup ensures their participation in the Champions Trophy in 2025, offering an opportunity to compete against the top seven teams in the format. Meanwhile, South Africa, their final group-stage opponents and fellow Champions Trophy qualifiers, also grapple with questions about the relevance of the 50-over format.
South Africa, set to co-host the next ODI World Cup in 2027, acknowledges the lure of T20 leagues offering more financial incentives than Cricket South Africa (CSA) can match. Quinton de Kock, having retired from Tests and bidding farewell to ODIs, has opted for a stint with the Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League. Cricket South Africa has adapted its selection policy to allow players participating in leagues to remain eligible for international T20 competitions.
South Africa’s team management, led by Nkwe, anticipates a new model that encourages current squad members to make themselves available for the 2027 World Cup. Nkwe acknowledges the hunger for silverware among marquee players like David Miller, Quinny [de Kock], Rassie [van der Dussen], and Temba [Bavuma], despite their age. He emphasizes the need for a realistic approach and plans to engage with players post-World Cup to discuss the future.
While de Kock has suggested the difficulty of coming out of retirement, Nkwe is optimistic about persuading him otherwise in the future.
“We will give him the space that he needs. I am hoping he will have a sabbatical and then have a rethink. He is excited. He loves playing for the country. I have seen his energy. And I am hoping a couple of months down the line we can have a different conversation.”
According to Nkwe, the allure of the ODI World Cup lies in its unique status, even with ICC events occurring annually. He notes,
“This (the ODI World Cup) is the main one. They want this one.” The sentiment echoes in Afghanistan’s hopes for the future, indicating a shared desire among cricketing nations to prioritize and elevate the significance of ODIs on the global stage.
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