A Manifesto for World Cricket
Previously: Part 1 a b c d e f g h
Part 2. Guiding Principles
Aims are not, by themselves, sufficient to produce a plan of action. They must be balanced against one another, striking a balance between the financial forces that drive the game forward, the emotion and history that make it great, and the logistics of scheduling games across three formats, diverse seasonal conditions and a seemingly infinite number of competitions.
The second part of this manifesto will deal with those issues, developing an over-arching competitive structure to produce competitive and meaningful fixtures, a domestic schedule to rationalise the existing mess of international tours and, now lucrative and expansionistic, domestic cricket seasons, and some general principles of tournament play to ensure fairness.
Part 2a. Structural pillars
The international side of the game has always been at the centre, and it is that that needs straightening first. The recent FTP driven expansion of the fixture list has not been kind to the sport, burning out players and fans alike on meaningless games. As a corrective I propose that the international fixture list be pared back to a handful of core fixtures played over a four year cycle: world and regional championships in each format and the marquee test tours.
There are a number of reasons why this is both desirable and possible. Firstly, the emergence of domestic T20 leagues reduces the need for money spinning limited overs friendlies to generate revenue. Given they have been, for a long time, merely used to prepare for the world cup and champions trophy, their almost complete removal will be lamented by few and will open up much needed space in the schedule.
Secondly, the expansion of world cup places to minnows has resulted in a bloated tournament while delivering only limited development opportunities. Pushing the development emphasis to a regional level allows both more opportunities to the smaller nations and a tighter, better world cup.
Thirdly, many lament the lack of interest in test cricket outside the major teams. In reality, the fans of those nations recognise those tours for what they are: perfunctory obligations of little value. Structuring the vast bulk of test matches into year long tournaments, and freeing them from the burden of short series should both increase the interest in test cricket in those nations and, as above, free up scheduling space for T20 games that will vastly improve the financial status of players in those nations.
Finally, by scheduling for marquee series every second season, there is ample room to continue playing those traditional series, such as the Ashes, upon which much of cricket's heritage, and no little interest or money, rests.
A final word then, on the future of one day cricket. As someone who gave up watching it some years ago, I was tempted to expunge it from the schedule entirely. That would be presumptuous and premature. The fact remains however, that ODI cricket is faced with dwindling interest and numerous challenges. Something that should be obvious from the rule tinkering that has beset the game of late. It has few core supporters, being neither as short or action packed as the t20 game so loved by the general public, nor as stern a test of character as the preferred format of the purist. Like games of professional vs players, or xxii vs xi, its time has passed. I suspect the only real question is how long will it linger.
30th January, 2010 21:09:02