The cricket blogging community is a brilliant thing. I’m always struck by how much people care about the game. Blogging takes a lot of effort but some people, who I admire hugely, go even further – even if this means delving into the murky world of cricket administration. It’s not for the fainthearted.
However, as the film Death of a Gentleman brought home last year, the future of our brilliant sport is very much in the hands of administrators. Some of them mean well, and some of them are more difficult to fathom. That’s why I’m all in favour of us supporters giving administrators a few pointers now and again. If we can let our feelings about complex issues be known that’s got to a good thing.
That’s why I’d like to share with you a survey being organised by Russ Degnan, who blogs at Idle Summers. You can follow him @IdleSummers. Ross has taken the admirable step of collecting and collating different attitudes towards a world test championship – an idea that was shelved during the Big Three stitch up but is now thankfully back on the agenda.
Personally I think a world test championship in a robust format is absolutely essential. T20 and ODI cricket have their world cups so test cricket, which is still supposedly the pinnacle of the game, needs its showpiece too. This might not involve a one-off final, or even a deciding series (it could very well be some kind of beefed up league) but test cricket certainly needs a shot in the arm.
A test championship played over two, three or four years might provide impetus by making the game seem more relevant and structured. If it captures imaginations then lucrative sponsorship and TV deals might follow too.
I must confess that I don’t have all the answers myself. Few people do. The implementation of a world test championship will be difficult. Balancing the need for competitive, meaningful fixtures while giving aspiring nations opportunities to grow will test cricket’s administrators to the limit.
But it’s not just that. In my humble opinion, a championship must also safeguard traditional rivalries like The Ashes while leaving room for things like the IPL. Not everyone is a fan of these domestic T20 money spinners, but one must be realistic.
Anyway today isn’t necessarily about finding all the answers. My hope is that a solution (which isn’t a fudge) will gradually emerge. That’s why I’d encourage those of you who care deeply about the game, especially those who have some knowledge of the issues surrounding a test championship and the challenges facing schedulers, to complete Russ’ survey. It’s all about gauging opinion so that a format acceptable to all (or at least most) can be found.
You’ll find a link to the survey here. But before you complete it, take a look at the accompanying article on Idle Summers. It will provide some context. Russ is also sending his survey out to professional players, journalists and support staff. We’re sure they’ll have their say so it’s important that supporters’ voices are heard too.
You’ll find that the survey is actually confidential. However, I’d love people to discuss their thoughts about a potential test championship in the comments below. What format would you like to see? What do you think would work? Or maybe you think the current structure is fine and that a beefed up test championship is neither desirable nor workable? It would be great to see what everyone thinks.
What a waste of time – the administrators are doing a great job in messing up simple things like ODI WC’s (Caribbean springs to mind), so why do people think by adding a complicated Test program will be any easier.?
They should be spending the time and money on policing drugs and cheating in the sport.
The Test rankings are a little weird (how SA stayed at number one for so long whilst being fairly average for so long, is a reasonable example), but it will do.
Also the wickets that are being prepared is causing problems in test cricket, not the format or a re-vamp.
Sort out those three areas, then as they say “hits the right areas!”
Where exactly in their nearly ten years unbeaten abroad, and their decade at home unbeaten by anyone but Australia, were SA being “fairly average for so long”?
I need cleansing. Where’s that Jarrod Kimber article?
What is even odder is how England got to number one, despite winning all of 2 away series in their pomp (one of which was against Bangladesh). Bet you don’t hear that too often in the English press either.
I took that survey, very thought provoking and it makes you realise just how “odd” test cricket is.
It doesn’t fit into a modern model, it doesn’t really support expansion as its impossible to play everyone in a set space of time. What is a draw and how to accommodate into a ranking system. I left with more questions than answers.
I said yes to keeping marquee series and developing rivalries (Aus/NZ) but then how do they fit in?
I’d like a system where everyone played each other in a 4 year cycle and we crowned a champion, but not really sure its feasible.
I think 12 tests a year is enough and therefore a structured FTP programme needs to be drawn up, agreed to and fair for all.
I like the idea of a Test championship, but having done the survey, it’s clear that making it a reality will be a challenge to stretch the world’s finest minds, and we know there aren’t any of those in the ICC! As the survey emphasises, many of the things people may want from a Test championship run contrary to one another. Some treasured traditions may have to be compromised if we want to make it happen, and we know cricket isn’t good at that either!
The only way I can see a Test championship fitting into the current set up in any way is for the table to be ongoing (as now) and the top 4 to play semi-finals and a final, say every 2 years, at a neutral venue, and a time frame set aside for it. The UAE might be a decent neutral venue (assuming Pakistan eventually do resume home fixtures in their own country), maybe in early December to allow bilateral series to recommence after Christmas?
Just to follow up on the above – the model this kind of emulates is tennis’ ATP World Tour Finals, which is held at the same time each year but the participants are selected based on their performance over the whole year. It’s become an established part of the tennis calendar with minimal disruption to the rest of the season and, critically, without challenging the primacy of the four Grand Slams.
Cheers. Good thoughts mate. I would start the ranking points from scratch after each 4 year cycle. I think this would give those lower down the league a little encouragement and make series all the more relevant.
More debate on the future of cricket.
Apologies for where it takes you too, but there are some very forthright views here
There are some interesting observations in that piece so thanks Nigel. I think that Paul Newman makes the points strongest. I think the key message is that less can be more. I also quite like the two division idea. It has generally helped to make the county championship better so why not test cricket too? I think it’s worth a try (even if it might be a hard sell for some countries).
Bumbles’ views on ODIs are interesting. I’ve heard quite a few people call for the abolition of 50 over cricket or at least suggest it will die out. Oddly enough though, I think T20s have actually improved ODIs. Perhaps the key is simply reducing the amount of cricket overall, so everything can be squeezed in. I really don’t see the need for 4 or 5 (or even 7!) game ODI series. Why not play a maximum of three, with two T20s and 3/4 test matches?
Didn’t they try something along those lines at the beginning of the last century (the triangular tournament) ?
And then WW1 broke out…