The Future of Test Cricket in the Modern Age

Cricket

The Future of Test Cricket in the Modern Age

The ESPNcricinfo for Cricket series began on Monday 19th August at the Kia Oval with a night of discussion and debate titled The Future of Test Cricket in the Modern Age. The evening, hosted by Mark Nicholas, saw legendary Indian batsman Rahul Dravid give a compelling talk on ‘Why Twenty20 needs Test Cricket’. Dravid was then joined on stage by ex-England captain Nasser Hussain, former international cricketer turned author and journalist Ed Smith, and Richard Verow, Sky Sports’ Commercial Director for a panel discussion on the state of Test cricket.

• VIDEO of Dravid’s speech can be found on the ESPNcricinfo YouTube channel here
• FULL TEXT of Rahul Dravid’s keynote speech – Why T20 Needs Test Cricket – can be found here

ESPNcricinfo for Cricket - August 19, 2013

While discussing the state of Indian cricket team across all formats of the game, Rahul Dravid said:

‘India is trying, in a lot of ways, to become the best cricket team in the world. The best one day cricket team in the world. The best 20-20 team in the world. I hope the best test team in the world. A lot of the success we see in Indian cricket today has come from some of the money that Indian cricket, or the BCCI, has been able to get for the Indian game. You have facilities today in nooks and corners of the country where you wouldn’t have dreamt of. Most of our cricketers today come from small towns and cities that, 10, 20 years ago would just not have had the facilities to be able to play. The pool of players that we are going to be selecting from in the next decade is going to be much, much larger than any time in our history.’

He also believed that the return of regular Test matches between India and Pakistan would be a major benefit to Test cricket in his home nation:

‘The problem with the India-Pakistan series is that it’s not played on a regular four year cycle or every two years. It would have been huge if it could be played every two years. It would definitely be bigger than the World Cup. A five-match series every two years in Indian and Pakistan would have been sensational. It’s obviously not going to happen.’

Dravid continued with his view on how to balance the calendars of all three formats of the game:

‘I would play one day cricket only as a preparation for the big tournaments – the 50-over tournaments and the Champions Trophy. So you can remove a lot of the one day cricket that we keep playing nowadays and fit in the extra Test matches that are required, have a Test championship that culminates in something once every two years, a T20 World Cup every two or three years. T20 cricket should be franchise cricket except for the major competitions and the same for 50-over cricket – teams should just play it as a preparation leading into the big tournaments.’

After sparking the debate on the ideal blueprint for world cricket, Nasser Hussain commented that cricket should:

‘Just scrap the Champions Trophy and call it the World Cup. [The most recent Champions Trophy] would have made a brilliant World Cup. [Teams such as Holland] would have to qualify by playing whoever is ranked 7th or 8th – you have to be good enough to sit at that table.’

Ed Smith was also of the belief that a Test world championship is the best way of making Test matches available to the whole cricket community:

‘I’d love to see a world championship of Test cricket. I’d love to see it work. I’d love to see it sold out. I want to see people urgently wanting to be world champions at test cricket. I think we’ve got quite a bit of ground to move to make that a reality.’

ESPNcricinfo for Cricket - August 19, 2013

He continued by suggesting cricket should look at adopting an American Major League approach to financial restrictions to make the game fairer and more competitive globally.

‘From the board’s point of view, cricket shouldn’t be about your team winning. Of course you want to win, but actually it should be about the health of the game, so your mission shouldn’t be “I want England to win every game”, it should be “I want Test cricket to be stronger and better at the end of my tenure”. If you’re the coach, obviously your job is pretty simple – to try and win cricket matches. Actually if you sit above that and you’re part of the governance of the game I think it’s a bit broader than that and I do think richer teams should pour a bit more back. It’s crucial to Test cricket that the games are good, if the product is good we’re a long way towards solving the problems.’

Rahul Dravid wanted to see bigger teams make sacrifices for the long term health of world cricket:

‘In an ideal scenario you would want [the ICC] to be stronger. The ICC is the creation of the boards and each of the boards have to actually give it that power and responsibility to be able to run the game and make a few sacrifices along the way in terms of their own power and their own control. Some of the stronger and more powerful nations will have to make a few sacrifices and hand over a little bit of power to the ICC to be able to run and monitor the game because at the moment I don’t think the ICC has enough power to be able to make the tough decisions.’

Nasser Hussain agreed that the ICC and international cricket boards need to be stronger to keep players focussed on playing international cricket rather than franchise cricket:

‘I was very surprised at the start of the IPL that countries were so easy in giving across their assets, their players. That amazed me. The amount of effort – forget time and money – the amount of effort that has to go in to produce an international cricketer, a bowler – Stuart Broad, James Anderson, whoever. Suddenly when this great tournament opens up in India, to suddenly just say go on, you can have our assets, no nothing. No fee back. No business would do that. “You take them now. We’ve built them up to be exactly where we want them, and you can take them.”’

Sky Sports, Commercial Director, Richard Verow also saw the growth of franchise cricket was affecting the world game:

‘I think the biggest challenge for cricket is franchise cricket. It’s cricket that is designed with commercial outcomes in mind…you have to wrestle with how you’re going to deal with that. How are you going to create a story?’

ESPNcricinfo for Cricket - August 19, 2013

ESPNCRICINFO FOR CRICKET
ESPNcricinfo for Cricket is a series of events putting the spotlight on big issues that confront cricket around the world. Part of ESPNcricinfo’s 20th anniversary celebrations, these events bring together some of the finest minds around the game to discuss, debate and offer solutions. Panelists and speakers will include players, administrators, commentators and journalists.

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Paul Melvin

Sr. Director, Communications
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