Ali Bacher has urged the cricket world to accept behind-closed-doors matches could be the salvation of the sport at international level.
Bacher, 77, went from playing for and captaining South Africa to becoming the most powerful administrator in the country by the turn of the century.
Now he believes cricket must unite behind rescue plans amid the global coronavirus crisis to avert a financial calamity, insisting safeguarding broadcast income must be the priority.
Only by putting on international matches can that be guaranteed, with Bacher urging governing bodies to be as creative and receptive to the new state of the world as needs be.
He told the Times of India: "So many of us wake up every day and hope that the virus has gone. This will not happen.
"World medical experts predict that this pandemic will last anything up to 18 months. The consequences for world cricket would be very serious, unless world cricket agrees to and allows international cricket matches to be played to empty stadiums.
"The massive global TV audience would not diminish and the income the Test-playing countries would receive from the broadcasters would allow them to survive this crisis, which is unprecedented since World War II."
Bacher has urged South Africa and India to consider switching their recently aborted ODI series to a neutral territory, such as the United Arab Emirates.
He said: "Our government medical advisers have gone public and said that the coronavirus will hit South Africa the hardest in July and August. Maybe Sourav [Ganguly, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India] and Graeme [Smith, South Africa's director of cricket] should be looking now at possible new venues like the UAE hoping that the airline industry will be functioning in August."