Former coach wants players to switch between countries November 14, 2007

Buchanan calls for world cricket revamp

Cricinfo staff

After being part of a successful period for Australian cricket, John Buchanan now says it is time to even up world cricket © Getty Images

John Buchanan believes the ICC should consider turning world cricket into a franchise-based system where players could choose which country to represent, in an effort to make the game more competitive. Buchanan spent eight years as Australia's coach, finishing after the World Cup in April, and he thinks Australia's dominance is hurting international cricket.

"This equality debate keeps bubbling to the surface and means that there is a serious issue there," Buchanan told the Age. "I think it mightn't be a bad thing if the ICC looked at some rule relaxations, which might allow a more even distribution of players around the world.

"Most young cricketers in Australia grow up wanting to play for Australia, but I'm sure there would be quite a few who, when they get to about 25 or 26 and realise they probably won't get a chance to wear the baggy green, would still be happy to play international cricket anywhere. The problem at the moment is that there is a long qualification period and, by the time that's up, the player and the other country probably lose interest."

Buchanan said the ICC's current rules were too strict, with players needing to spend at least 183 days a year for four consecutive years in their new country before qualifying to play a Test. However, he believes turning Test nations into franchises could lead to a greater flow of players between countries, and a more competitive international scene.

"Countries should look to recruit young players from Australia, and places like India, to increase their depths of talent," Buchanan said in the Herald Sun. "Those players would enhance the domestic competition and, hopefully, go on to play Test cricket for the country they move to. We don't want cricket to become like a horse race when the favourite wins all the time. No-one will want to watch."

Barry Richards, the former South Africa batsman, agreed that there was a serious problem with Australia's dominance - Ricky Ponting's team won their 13th consecutive Test when they beat Sri Lanka at the Gabba on Monday and Australia have not lost a World Cup match since 1999. "Australia plays international cricket, the rest just play cricket," Richards said.

"I have lost interest in it because I know the result before they start playing. Until you get strength against strength, nothing is going to happen. In England, they have 18 counties and they call it first-class cricket and it's absolutely useless."

Buchanan's replacement as Australia's coach, Tim Nielsen, told the Age the franchise plan was not the answer and other nations needed to keep striving to catch Australia. "We've got to keep trying to raise the bar," he said, "because, as always, we are the ones being chased and people are looking to what we are doing and trying to replicate it."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Glenn on November 16, 2007, 0:08 GMT

    International cricket has become a joke. And crowds are not showing up to domestic first class games. In order to compete in the modern world, new structures of the game are essential. I have no problem with abolishing test matches (which died in 1977 anyway) and domestic first class in favour of 'Major League Cricket' (see my earlier post). So what if most of the players will come from Australia. The best international players will have to lift their game and adapt. Who wants to watch second rate?

  • Jai on November 15, 2007, 8:49 GMT

    International soccer players do not choose who to play for; they too play for their country. It is only at club level that they choose, as is already the case in cricket: domestic competitions (e.g. County Championship) allow players to move and transfer. John Buchanan is using an analogy that doesn't fit.

  • Kingsley on November 15, 2007, 6:06 GMT

    While acknowledging the present dominance of the Australian cricket team I suspect that John Buchanan's comments constitute a wake up call for other nations to follow the pattern set down in 1988 with the establishment of our Cricket Academy development programme. While this sponsored programme lent itself to some abuses to satisfy the sponsors (i.e. selecting players for the First Class arena before they were ready thus playing the numbers game) the strength of Australian cricket at present is doubtless due to such initiatives. It would be intriguing if cricket was to go "fully" professional along the lines that Buchanan suggests whether or not we would see the ludicrous situation of some years again when the Australia A team threatened the dominance of the main team and selectors quickly started to choose A team players in the main side, thus robbing the A team of a settled selection pattern. Oops! How embarrassing would it have been for our A team to have whipped the main team then!

  • Glenn on November 15, 2007, 4:51 GMT

    I have long believed in 'Major League Cricket', which would be just like the system of major league and minor league baseball in the USA, or the system of English Premier league and lower divisions of English football. Players would be transferred and drafted, with a southern league in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in the southern summer, then a northern league in England and the West Indies in their summer, plus an Asian league. The champion Asian, northern league and southern league teams could then play a 3-way world series. Bottom teams would be relegated to the minor league. Matches could be one innings a side played over 3 days (first class), then one-day 40 over matches. Abolish tests and all other senior forms of the game! Seriously!

  • Marty on November 15, 2007, 4:06 GMT

    This is a horrible idea, and will completely degrade the honour of representing one's country. Whilst I wouldn't be changing anything myself an international county/province/state competition, along the lines of the UEFA Champions League might be an option, with say four internationals per side permitted.

    That said, I think the bigger question has to be asked about why nations such as India, Pakistan, and England are in the doldrums. When you look at countries such as Australia, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand and the sides they put together from limited population bases, why can this not be replicated with the billion or so Indians? Hell, in Australia, cricket has to compete with rugby league and union, AFL, and the true emergence of football (which I believe is the most popular youth sport at the moment), unlike India where cricket is number one. Is it the infrastructure, or the coaching, the board, what?

    In short, I think solutions like Buchanan's overlook the obvious.

  • Mark on November 15, 2007, 2:25 GMT

    What twaddle! Representing your country is what it ia all about. This suggestion would undermine test cricket completely. If you are good enough you will get in the side. Hundreds of players miss out because of another player holdiong the spot and doing the job. This is disappointing but it's the cold hard reality. Australia will not dominate world cricket forever. All teams have cycles, just enjoy it while it is our turn.

  • Peter on November 14, 2007, 23:08 GMT

    I think this idea is stupid. Soon all you will get is Australian players playing against other Australian players because that's where all the talent is. It down grades test cricket even further if you have Australian's playing for the West Indies or Bangladesh. Cricket is not soccer, the teams aren't clubs, they are representative teams and should be treated as such. The other nations should put more into developing young cricketers, but we should never see test cricket become a franchise system.

  • Scott on November 14, 2007, 22:40 GMT

    I think in the long run this will cause more problems, with the rich cricketing nations being able to buy champion teams, and the poor one losing all there good players. Imagine how much money Indian TV companies will pour in to have a successful Indian team?

  • david on November 14, 2007, 21:21 GMT

    This idea ignores the real issues. The fact Australia is as good as it has been for the last 15 or so years comes down to a desire to keep improving, an attitude that other nations should take up. If anything allowing players to play in any nation they want would most likely lower the standard of cricket. We would only be removing the challange of top players to reach test quality in order to make their national sides.

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