Former Australia captain Ian Chappell believes international cricket’s ambitious but “implausible” future programme is headed for an epic breakdown. A healthy partnership between the game’s administrators and international players could hasten the process, he wrote in his ESPNcricinfo column. Former stars such as Steve Waugh have expressed concern about cricket’s crowded schedule, saying the public has “almost overdosed” on the game.
The whole cricket structure, especially the schedule, needs a thorough but positive evaluation with the game’s future in mind, according to Chappell.
Furthermore, there is the glaring issue of a lack of partnership between players and administrators. It shouldn’t be a matter of the administrators deciding the programme without any input from international players, as it is at present.
An international program developed from such a partnership would be much more palatable than the current schedule, which is an abomination.
In the midst of a proliferation of T20 leagues, players are now forced to choose which ones to play and which ones to skip, depriving some leagues of star power and affecting their ability to remain financially viable in the future. “T20 leagues are popping up like weeds in the summer and an already implausible programme is headed for an almighty implosion.”
According to Chappell, “T20 leagues now interfere with each other and players are signing longer-term contracts with expanding IPL clubs. These contradictions mean there will be a growing problem of how to produce more marketable cricketers.”
In the current environment, some leagues won’t be able to sign the limited number of star players available, resulting in financial difficulties.
All of these issues need immediate attention, but the biggest one is to ensure the players have a voice in the game’s future.” According to him, Test cricket should only be played by countries with a strong first-class structure and a “culture of the format,” which Afghanistan and Ireland do not possess.
Players deserve the opportunity to participate in Test cricket if it is their choice. However, Tests are also steeped in culture, which requires a strong first-class infrastructure in the countries involved.
As such infrastructure costs money rather than producing a return on investment, not many teams have or can afford it. Consequently, it makes no sense to reward Afghanistan and Ireland, two recent recipients of Test status, since neither of them have the grounds or the infrastructure to reasonably expect that status.” The former player said, “T20 leagues, which produce a healthy return, are much more acceptable to administrators.”
Afghanistan and Ireland could have benefited from playing a second-tier competition before entering the Test arena, according to him. “Sadly, Test status is best reserved for the eight nations with a long-standing culture of the format,” he said.
The inclusion of combination teams composed of interested players from non-Test status teams could be considered if there is still a desire to expand Test cricket’s reach.
In order to qualify for Test status, teams must meet infrastructure and financial requirements. In order for teams to qualify for Test status, a second-tier competition would be required.” Chappell lauded England captain Ben Stokes for his ability to not only increase the performance of his team, but also raise the profile of Test cricket in general.
“Stokes has decreed that England players bat freely, but fans are looking forward to something akin to the T20 run rate in the five-day format. During a time when Test cricket, as well as 50-over cricket, is suffering from the junior format, this massive change of approach has come at an important time.
“Despite Stokes’ highly commendable approach, some difficult questions remain.
“Two issues seem to be overlooked by those in charge: How many teams should play Tests and why aren’t administrators working with players in a partnership to ensure the game’s future?”
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