The future of cricket August 11, 2010

ICC must focus on Tests and T20s - Martin Crowe


Former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe has said the ICC must settle on two formats - Tests and Twenty20s - to secure the future of the game and market it better. Crowe said attempts to make ODI cricket more appealing would lead to confusion. Instead, he added, the way forward was to provide context to Tests through an annual knockout Test Championship while consolidating the popularity of Twenty20 cricket.

"I don't believe three forms will work, I think it is confusing," Crowe said on Cricinfo's fortnightly audio show Time Out, hosted by Harsha Bhogle. "I think new formats, tinkering with rules like silly split innings will only see the global game become another fun park with different rides and attractions. That will just dilute the market and create confusion and chaos.

"They [ICC] have to consolidate the two forms, like we sort of had it in the 70s and 80s with 50-overs cricket and Test cricket. Settle on Twenty20, just see out the life of 50-over cricket and therefore give Test cricket the chance to stand on it's own as one strong pillar alongside Twenty20."

Crowe, who is part of the MCC Cricket Committee, had, in September last year, unveiled plans - which he had presented to the ICC - to make Test cricket more competitive. He proposed a yearly Test Championship comprising seven six-day knockout games, with the top four ranked teams hosting the bottom four in quarter-finals within the Future Tours Programme (FTP) starting 2012 and eventually leading to a title winner.

"We have to get to a point where we are hosting a Test Championship final, and those seven games will become the great focus throughout the course of the year for all the media, the fans and the teams," Crowe said. "It also gives all eight teams a chance, over six days, to win that Test match and progress forward. This way we are also using the FTP and the existing schedule. So, not a lot has to change but just the case of marketing the knock-out format within the FTP."

The Championship, while giving all teams an opportunity to win the title, would also make Tests more relevant, Crowe said. "It firstly gives the worst team a chance to possibly dream that it could make that final. And obviously it gives all the other teams a chance to be crowned every year. That gives Test cricket a meaning, which I think is very important.

"At the moment, you have World Cups, Champions Trophies, World Twenty20, the IPL, the Champions League, all these shorter formats are up and running, dominating the landscape, and they all have a meaning and they all crown a champion. But Test cricket, which is the pinnacle, is the purest and the best form of the game, doesn't have anything."

Crowe also backed the concept of day-night Tests and the use of pink balls to make Test cricket more attractive and draw more fans. "Test cricket needs a lot more work from the marketing point of view, and that's where day-night Test cricket must be trialled soon," he said. "I believe that this will be an exciting part of Test cricket that somewhere along the line within the FTP, somewhere in the world there will be a day-night Test going on. It won't suit every country and the conditions in some countries won't allow it. But I certainly think that in some places it will be wonderful for the local market.

"The MCC has nearly nailed it with the pink ball. It nearly lasts up to 70 overs, and that's pretty close to what you want in a Test match. It's time we tried it, because people will be surprised as to how good it is."

Sanjay Manjrekar, the former India batsman, felt Test cricket needed other tweaks, such as lifting the ban on bouncers. "The two bouncers per over ban has to be lifted. Because then, Test cricket will provide something that Twenty20 cricket and 50-over cricket doesn't provide," Manjrekar said on the show. "When you see bouncers, and fast bowlers intimidating batsman at the other end, it's a spectacle that I have seen people enjoy and I am sure even modern audiences will also enjoy that spectacle."

Siddhartha Talya is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ricardo on August 17, 2010, 3:27 GMT

    slugworth - the problem if relegation is a serious one....and you have good reason to show concern. Indeed had we seen a world test championship in the 80's maybe this would have happened, with possibly West indies and Pakistan contesting a final....if this would have happened, thenI am sure both cricketing boards would have to raise their game to the competition itself can breed self suficiency. Also, as I have said, a longer cycle would allow for series like the "ashes" to be played in a non championship setting. In english football sheffield utd vs sheffield Weds still attracts great interest although niether side is in the premiership, the same was for birmingam vs aston villa, & portsmouth vs southampton. Also with my idea of a 4yr cycle the ICC could pick a rest of the world to play the test champions which will create some interest.

  • Mark on August 16, 2010, 2:49 GMT

    How do We (at the I.C.C.), plan for, Test Match playing countries, to play the Iconic Test Match Series & the new planned Test Match World Championship (TMWC)?? How hard can it Be?? --Seriously ... This ' is ' what the people want! Well.. Who's planning these things? ... I came up with a format in 1 Hour sitting in my Shed!! 'Come On' I.C.C. " LIFT YOUR GAME "!!!

  • Ricardo on August 14, 2010, 21:29 GMT

    nik777 - what vipin.chaudhary2325 fails to realise is that the success of T20 is of the back of test cricket. How many T20 specialist can you name, who excel at T20 & not tests, who can consistent out perform good test players in the T20 formatt?? Not many...yet still no T20 specialist can outplay a good test player in a 5 day game. To add how many memorable games can you recall?? on the other hand great test matches/series are never forgotten. will people really remember T20 matches 20yrs from now?? like botham's ashes ?? WI 5 - 0 "blackwash"?? the 2005 ashes test series ??? Ind vs AUS when VVS laxmann batted right through day 4, after following on. I accept T20 is hear to stay. It is exciting, creates new audiences, and allows cricketers to earn the types of salaries other sports stars have been earning for years....but it MUST learn to work in cohesion with test cricket as it can NEVER SURPASS it as the SUPERIOR form.

  • Mo on August 14, 2010, 12:36 GMT

    In my opinion, each year let every country play 2 test with other nations, one at home and one at the home of the respective country , and base on the results put the best 4 team into the champion ship games. The countries can play the ODIs and T20 at the same schedule.

  • Simon on August 14, 2010, 12:29 GMT

    @ gracegift Sounds good in theory but the major flaw in a 2 teir system is what would happen if say england dropped to the bottom and australia stayed in the top teir, what happens to the ashes that seem so important they have never been suspended at any cost. On another note a like the idea that the icc and people invovled with the game are thinking about a system. However some sought of mechanism to remove a chance of a draw. My idea is that the 2nd innings only has available to it 7 wickets. thus principally the second innings is entirely made up genuine batsmen.

  • Matt on August 14, 2010, 8:15 GMT

    ODI are just as good as Tests/T20s. Keep ODIs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Nik on August 14, 2010, 8:11 GMT

    I strongly support sportscientist's suggestion of a cycle greater than 1 year. We are already in cricket overload mode.

    Whether it is a 4 year cycle, a 3 year cycle or perhaps even a 2 year cycle is a matter for discussion.

    I also disagree strongly with vipin.chaudhary on changing the rules of test cricket. Test cricket is unique in sport in that TIME is something the captains of each team can use as a weapon. Scoring big but too slowly, or trying to score big and getting out too quickly opens up strategic opportunities for the opposing captain.

    I don't mind the limited overs formats, be it ODI, T20, or something else. But please, please, please, don't take away from test cricket one of the most important weapons in its strategy.

    I am happy for changes to be considered that *reduce* the likelihood of draws, and I think test cricket fans the world over are tired of sub-standard or non-competitive pitches - so test cricket can certainly be improved without surgery to its rules.

  • Dummy4 on August 13, 2010, 21:56 GMT

    I do not agree removing one day cricket is not wise to focus one one long boring game like test cricket and one four hour excited game like 20/20. One day cricket puts the balance, not to long and not to shot with excitement to be satisfied with.

  • vipin on August 13, 2010, 19:38 GMT

    all talk about Test Cricket, the charm of test cricket, but how many people are there who watch whole test match from day one to day five. I think no one, Test Cricket is real cricket, but how many people like to see real cricket, how many people want to see boring test draws, why are test matches stadium are empty now a days, why is t-20 stadium jam-packed, those u talk about test cricket, why dont u go to the stadium to see test cricket, now its time to change some rules in test cricket, don't make flat pitches, make a panel for pitches around the world, dont make a test match draw, delete DRAW from cricket rules, we can use substitute in tests, as 4-5 bowlers get tired on flat pitches, or make test match of 3 days, 2-2 innings, 50-50 overs per innings, u will sure get a result, don't let a draw, let a team wins or a team loose, why should rain or bad weather decide a draw.

  • Siddhant on August 13, 2010, 16:51 GMT

    the bottomline is that all these changes are pretty pointless unless there is competition between the teams and not an overkill of such competition. I say dont bother with changing the rules...just make sporting wickets unlike those in ssc and chennai. Also, make the teams play more against those of their level...i'd reather watch zim v ire than zim v aus. the idea of a test championship does sound right.

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