The retirement from ODIs of England Test captain Ben Stokes has brought about one of cricketís frequent existential crises. Is there too much cricket? Can all three formats survive? What needs to be done?

Solutions are proposed. Some, like Australiaís Usman Khawaja say that itís ODIs that have to go. Ravi Shastri says that Tests need to be restricted to six teams to preserve quality over quantity and to prevent games ending in under three days because that never happens when the top six play each other. Others say get rid of bilateral T20Is because the top players all play in franchise leagues anyway.

All these suggestions though come at the problem from a rather parochial viewpoint with little consideration given to the wider cricketing landscape.

England, India and Australia almost certainly do play too much international cricket. Meanwhile, associates can often go over a year without any international cricket even when there hasnít been a global pandemic that brought much of the world to a halt.

Croatiaís recent matches in European sub-regional qualifying for the 2024 Menís T20 World Cup represented their first international cricket in almost a decade. Slovenia, also in that tournament, hadnít played in six years. Vanuatu, a team in the third tier of one-day cricket, will next month play for the first time in almost three years, a reminder that organising internationals during Covid was a hell of a lot easier for some countries than for others.

Even some full members - especially the likes of Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe, would be unlikely to say that they are playing too much international cricket, especially of the longer variety.

Perhaps there isnít too much cricket, itís just that too much of it is played by an ever-decreasing number of teams. Half of the Test matches that England, India and Australia will play in the next cycle of the Future Tours Programme will be against each other.

Even when it comes to a team like New Zealand, England toured there in 2018 and 2019, hosted them in 2021 and this year and will tour there again next year. Meanwhile, England havenít toured Bangladesh since 2016 and havenít hosted them since 2010. They havenít played Zimbabwe since 2004 other than a match at the 2007 World T20. During that time they have played over 150 matches against Australia.

Itís a problem entirely of the big threeís own making. Theyíve told everyone that theyíre the only teams that matter so much that even they feel they can only make money if they only ever play each other.

The ICC also share some of the blame. Their greed has led them to schedule multiple ICC events each year, further crowding the schedule. It makes their events less prestigious as a result - who cares who wins the T20 World Cup if another one is less than two years away? Who cares who wins the ODI World Cup if the Champions Trophy is along soon? Does anyone even know the Test Championship or ODI Super League is happening?

Usman Khawaja comes at the problem from the perspective of someone who has seen the main limited overs event of the Australian summer move from the ODI tri-series to the Big Bash League. Others look forward to ODI cricket, notably Kyle Coetzer who retired from T20I cricket in a year in which Scotland have a T20 World Cup to play and with them unlikely to qualify for an ODI World Cup until heís in his 40s. This also serves as a reminder that for associates, ODIs are the longer form of the game, the prestige format that many aspire to.

Those who call for an end to bilateral T20Is almost certainly havenít considered that for associate members, very few of their players play on the franchise circuit, and that ending bilateral T20Is would mean no international cricket at all outside of ICC tournaments. Love it or loath it, T20 cricket does have the best chance of getting a bigger audience in many associate members.

Ravi Shastri and his stopping Tests outside the top six is looking at the problem from the point of view of an elitist snob who thinks things were better in his day (guess how many Test nations there were when he made his debut?) but there are almost certainly many who share this idiotic view.

All of them are also looking at it from a very male-centric view. But, to be fair, womenís national teams would almost all like to have more international cricket.

What none of them touch on though is the important question - is the structure of international cricket at the full member level even fit for purpose?

Up until very recently full member international cricket had no structure. It was an ad-hoc series of bilateral arrangements. The ICC tried to get a hand of this, first with the Future Tours Programme (which was only sometimes adhered to) and then with the World Test Championship and ODI Super League, the latter of which was canned before the first edition even concluded.

Both of those tournaments were an attempt to bring order to something that has always been fundamentally disordered. In effect, full member international cricket is run in much the same way as it has been since the ICC formed over a century ago. Tours from one country to another with a series of matches arranged on an ad-hoc basis rather than the mix of one-off friendlies mixed in with regional and global tournaments we see in football, or the tournament based international calendar we see in sports such as hockey (both field and ice) or basketball.

The reasons for this are obvious - Englandís first international engagements were with Australia and South Africa at a time when travel between those countries was done by boat, taking weeks on end to get there. If youíve travelled for that long, youíre not going to play just one game when you get there. Had Englandís first international engagements been with Scotland and Ireland, weíd likely have a very different international calendar.

Even once air travel became more frequent (and thereís a whole other topic there with the impact that is having on the environment) the touring model continued. This time, it was largely because it was the only time anyone got to see the best players from other countries.

We now live in a world where the best players are on TV for most of the year in some franchise T20 league or other. And yet rather than change the product to compete with this, the International Cricket Council, despite claiming to recognise the primacy of international cricket, are making room in their calendar for these leagues, particularly the ever-growing IPL. This obviously constricts the calendar even more.

But just because weíre in that world where the best players are on TV most of the year, that doesnít necessarily mean we should forget about international cricket. After all, even though we live in a world where almost the entire history of recorded music can be streamed to a device that fits in your pocket and yet the fastest growing format for music is vinyl.

One thing that has made vinyl so successful in recent years is that it has become seen as the prestige format. Limited edition releases are commonplace. Scarcity has produced demand. Perhaps that is the solution for international cricket.

International cricket is ceasing to be special. Franchise leagues have taken on many of the attributes it once had. But like vinyl in a world of music streaming, international cricket could make a fight back in a world of regular franchise cricket.

It would require rethinking international cricket. Some teams would play less. Some might play more. It would certainly mean fewer global events. Perhaps in one four year cycle we have one Test Championship, one T20 World Cup and one ODI World Cup in addition to (hopefully) an Olympic tournament. For both men and women. Make the tournaments feel more special.

It will require a grand restructuring of international cricket. Stopping teams playing each other every year. The world of associate cricket may provide some of the solutions. The Intercontinental Cup is a better model for a World Test Championship than the actual World Test Championship. The World Cricket League with its short sharp annual tournaments is a good model for ODI cricket.

International T20 cricket could look more like football with much of the cycle taken up by qualifying events for ALL members, and not just because I quite like the idea of England having a tricky midweek away tie on an artificial pitch in Prague.

It requires a forward thinking governing body that isnít greedy. One that isnít in thrall to the big three. One that really wants to promote international cricket. One that is run for the betterment of all its members. Itíll never happen.