A Manifesto for World Cricket
Russell Degnan

Previously: Part 1 a b c d e f g h 2 a b c 3 a b c d e

Part 3f. Outlining a Schedule

Having completed the proposed tournament format, it is now possible to lay it out in its entirety, to track the progress of teams from stage to stage. To help enable this process, a sample tournament has been constructed with teams filled in (the results being a reflection of the ratings a few months ago).

Using the tournament(s) as a base, and taking into account adjunct series - notably the marquee series - it is possible to construct a workable future tours program across the four year cycle of games. Below shows this for five different sides of varying levels playing within the same region.

Every one of the top 18 teams are basically full time professionals for the four year period in question, playing between 35 and 50 games. In the event professionalism is not an option, then the friendly series, and (potentially) the extra divisions can be shortened or scrapped. It is reasonable, however, to assume that a modest level of revenue from the regional championships would be sufficient to fund a team fully, and allow them to compete year round. The income to be gained from T20 domestic leagues for competent associate players will also, eventually, make the funding of international cricket less necessary.

Finally, the most frequent criticism of ideas that promote games between so-called minnows and others is the issue of mismatches. Ignoring, again, the marquee series, which are organised between boards and therefore not relevant to this discussion, the table below shows the frequency of games between teams in four groups: The big 4 (India, England, South Africa and Australia), the other competitive test teams (New Zealand, Pakistan, West Indies and Sri Lanka), the other test teams and leading associates (Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Ireland and Kenya), and the other associates (Afghanistan, Scotland, Canada and the Netherlands). This excludes Namibia and the UAE, who would add another 6 mismatches if they were put in the bottom group but would play 18 competitive (or better) games.

Games are considered very competitive if they are played against another team in their group, and competitive, if it is against a team in an adjacent group.

Two points are worth noting from the table. Firstly, there are only 26 games listed as a mismatch in the entire tournament. Of those games, 22 would be played in the first six weeks of year one, making them no more than a brief pre-season interlude before the actual competition starts. Secondly, those 26 games compare with over 100 games that are competitive and more than 100 that are very competitive. Of the 84 games played by the big 4, just 16 are against teams of Bangladesh's standard, or worse; the 5th to 8th ranked nations meanwhile, (rightly) split between the top test sides (48 games) and the next level (38 games). While there are a handful of mismatches, and no region can expect to always have stiff competition for either places in the World Test Championship or for Regional Champion, this is a highly competitive structure where few games can be taken for granted, and almost all have some meaning in the narrative sense.

Idle Summers 7th March, 2010 15:38:48   [#]