A plan to reinvent the domestic one-day competition as a stand-alone carnival in October, which would have implications for Australia’s Ashes preparation, is being considered by Cricket Australia.
The overarching idea is to minimise the hopping between formats imposed on players, but there is also a commercial motivation to convert the Ryobi Cup to a condensed format that appeals to the television network that wins the right to screen domestic matches.
While it would put the nation’s cricketers in limited-overs mode the month before the first Ashes Test, CA officials privately insist the concept would actually benefit Test preparations by carving the Ryobi Cup away from the Sheffield Shield.
Test aspirants and incumbents would still play three shield games before the Ashes begins in Brisbane on November 21, which is considered enough to press claims and prepare.
Should the plan be ratified, the Ryobi Cup carnival would be staged while the Australian team is in India in October for seven ODIs.
The concept raises a potential dilemma for Test specialist Peter Siddle, who opted out of one-dayers for Victoria last season to focus on building up his bowling for Tests, but would have no other cricket to play until the Shield season began.
CA declined to comment on the proposal, which still has to be approved by the players’ association and debated internally.
The idea of a domestic one-day carnival was first mooted in the 2011 Argus report.
Network Ten is favoured to win the rights to domestic cricket but there are no guarantees the successful bidder, which would naturally focus on the more lucrative Big Bash League, would also screen the Ryobi Cup and the Sheffield Shield final, as Fox Sports has done previously.
The hope is that the condensed structure would prove a better television product, while giving aspiring international players a taste of a tournament format more akin to World Cups.
The need to ”decouple” the one-day competition from the Sheffield Shield was highlighted last season by the plight of Tasmanian captain George Bailey, who made 18 changes of format across domestic and international cricket and admitted this took a toll on his long-form cricket.
”I think I struggled at different times, just with switching back through the formats,” he said this month.
”That’s not an excuse, because every modern cricketer has to make those changes pretty regularly, but I just didn’t adjust to it very well.
”It certainly felt like I was going into Shield games with a one-day or Twenty20 mentality. It was certainly not a conscious thing, [it was] just not having the awareness and ability to work out [the problem] and build your innings.”