Australian Test opener Usman Khawaja believes one-day cricket is “dying a slow death” due to the rapid growth of T20 domestic leagues and the unsustainable calendar.

Earlier this week, England superstar Ben Stokes stunned the cricket community by announcing his retirement from ODI cricket at 31.

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“Three formats are just unsustainable for me now,” he wrote on Instagram.

“Not only do I feel that my body is letting me down because of the schedule and what is expected of us, but I also feel that I am taking the place of another player who can give Jos (Buttler) and the rest of the team their all.”

Stokes’ carefully-worded parting shot was primarily directed at the ECB, who ticked off a “horrific” fixture list that featured over 100 days of international cricket in less than 10 months.

It has become nearly impossible for multi-format players from England, India and Australia to fulfil their international commitments, particularly the all-rounders.

“We are not cars,” Stokes told Test Match Special on Tuesday.

“You can‘t just fill us up and we’ll go out there and be ready to be fuelled up again. We had a Test series and then the one-day team had a series going on at the same time – that was a bit silly.

“I just feel like there is too much cricket rammed in for people to play all three formats now. It is a lot harder than it used to be.”

Australia’s high-profile cricketers are also starting to question whether they can commit to all three formats, and understandably so.

Because of the sport’s relentless schedule, resting multi-format players for ODI cricket has not only become a necessity, but a formality.

The Australian men’s side has played 17 ODIs since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, yet Steve Smith, the country’s best batter in a generation, only featured in five of them.

Earlier this week, Cricket Australia announced that Test captain Pat Cummins had not been selected for the upcoming ODI fixtures against Zimbabwe and New Zealand because he was “being managed through a period of rehabilitation and physical preparation for the upcoming summer”.

Cummins’ omission wasn’t the surprising part of this announcement — Australia fielding a near full-strength team for a bilateral ODI series has been a rarity since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking to reporters in Brisbane on Friday morning, Khawaja argued the other two formats were slowly overshadowing one-day cricket.

“Fifty-over cricket is probably the toughest on the body … you ask any cricketer, 50-over cricket is very tough work,” he explained.

“You’ve got Test cricket, which is the pinnacle, you’ve got T20 cricket which obviously has leagues around the world, great entertainment, everyone loves it, and then there’s one-day cricket, and I feel like that’s probably the third ranked out of all of them.

“I think personally one-day cricket is dying a slow death, but at the end of the day, there’s still one-day cricket to be had. There’s still the World Cup, which I think is really fun and enjoyable to watch.

“Other than that, I’m probably not into one-day cricket much either.”

Khawaja, who has not represented Australia in ODIs since the 2019 World Cup in England, believes 50-over cricket is currently irrelevant because the focus is on the upcoming T20 World Cup.

“Right now it feels like it’s not really that important because of the T20 World Cup,” he said.

“Something has to give, because you can’t have all three formats all together playing all the games; you’re going to have to decide and choose.

“I don’t know how it’s going to go. I think T20 cricket’s here to stay definitely, Test cricket’s here to stay definitely. But what happens to one-day cricket?”

Khawaja confessed it was “very tough” for international cricketers to continue playing in all three formats, especially with the brutal travelling requirements.

“If you’re playing all three forms of the game, you’re not at home at all really,” he said.

And the demand on your body, mentally and physically.

“A lot of the guys might be playing also the IPL. There’s a lot of cricket.

“It can be very tough at the moment.”

Khawaja has represented Australia in 40 ODIs since making his international debut in 2011, scoring 1554 runs at 42.00 with two centuries and 12 fifties.

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