Glenn McGrath is worried about the future of ODI cricket after witnessing nearly

Glenn McGrath, a former Australia captain, believes the sight of a nearly deserted Melbourne Cricket Ground during England's recent ODI series raises concerns about the format's future.


Little more than 4,000 fans packed the massive MCG for the final of three 50-over matches between the old foes, leaving vast swaths of the venue completely empty.
Only nine days earlier, over 80,000 people attended England's T20 World Cup victory over Pakistan at the same stadium, prompting players, fans, and pundits to criticize the scheduling.

Thousands of empty seats marked England's recent ODI at the MCG (Jason O'Brien/PA). However, McGrath, a three-time World Cup winner in ODI cricket, believes the problem goes deeper than one poorly planned series and believes serious thought must be applied to avoid the format being squeezed out of the calendar permanently.
"It was so disappointing to see crowds like that, ODIs are really under the pump at the moment," he said from his Queensland home to the PA news agency.

"Melbourne is regarded as Australia's, if not the world's, sporting capital; they are devoted to their sport." So the fact that they turned out in such large numbers says a lot about where we're at." The powers that be must exercise extreme caution to ensure that no games are played simply for the sake of playing them. The international schedule is already demanding. I believe they must respect each series and game, as they must have meaning.

"We have to protect the game." T20 cricket is growing in popularity because it is fast, quick, and exciting, while Test cricket is the ultimate. "Those two formats, I believe, will stand the test of time." I hope ODI cricket continues; I have many fond memories of it, and I still consider the ODI World Cup to be more important than the T20 World Cup. But the format is in trouble, and we need to figure out how to keep people coming to these games."

McGrath will return to England for a theatre tour next spring with Test Match Special commentary partner Jonathan Agnew, paving the way for a big Ashes summer in 2023.
The 52-year-old predicts 5-0 Australia wins on a regular basis, but while they came close to a whitewash in Australia last winter, he expects a much more competitive England side following a major overhaul under Brendon McCullum.
England's style has shifted under Ben Stokes, left, and head coach Brendon McCullum (Steven Paston/PA).
"I love coming to the UK; it's always amazing how many English people come up to me and say, 'I used to despise you when you played, but now that you're retired, you're OK,'" he said.
"I consider that a compliment. There's some mutual respect and fun going on. I don't know what happened in the previous Ashes, but it wasn't good. England did not even appear. This time, however, things will be different. They are much more upbeat now that Baz McCullum is on board, Ben Stokes is captain, and Joe Root is free to play.
"They really back themselves up, and when it comes off, it's amazing." I believe Australia could even take a page from their book and simply go out there and support itself.":: Live Test Match Special - The Ashes Special, starring Jonathan Agnew and Glenn McGrath, begins a UK tour on April 5. Tickets and venue information are available at www.fane.co.uk/TMS.






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