MCC calls for Olympics T20 cricket and 12-team World Cup
The MCC World Cricket Committee have described the reorganisation of the World Cup to a 10 team event as "a retrograde step" and called for T20 cricket to become an Olympic sport.
Calling for a rethink of the ICC's decision to cut the number of participants in future World Cups from 14 to 10, the committee criticised the move as "a handbrake for the development of the sport."
Instead, they have recommended a 12-team tournament preceded by a "preliminary qualification round" for the "lower ranked Full Member teams and the top Associate Nations."
Concerned that the sport is in danger of contracting globally, the WCM urged "all governing bodies around the world to get behind a bid" to make cricket an Olympic sport. This, the committee believes, would "expose the game positively to new markets" and enable many developing cricket nations to benefit from the government funding that is linked to Olympic involvement.
The committee, an independent think-thank that is currently chaired by former England captain Mike Brearley and includes other distinguished former captains such as Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid, Shaun Pollock and Sourav Ganguly as well as current ICC CEO Dave Richardson, heard from a variety of administrators including ICC Chairman N Srinivasan and the ECB's chairman and CEO, Colin Graves and Tom Harrison respectively.
Intriguingly, the committee suggested that the ECB had been against cricket's inclusion in the Olympics in the past but suggested they were now more open to the idea. And the committee described their decision to pursue involvement in the Olympics as "unanimous;" a revealing choice of words bearing in mind that Richardson sits upon it.
Pressed on whether Giles Clarke, the ECB President and representative at the ICC - who has been implacably opposed to Olympic involvement - would be willing to shift his position, Mike Brearley, the committee chairman, suggested he will have "to do what he is told."
"Colin and Tom acknowledged that the view of the ECB has been strongly anti it, but they say they are open to rethinking," Brearley said. "The president of the ECB is an employee of the board and has to report to the board. He has to do what he's told."
While the ICC are under no obligation to act upon the MCC world cricket committee's recommendations - as Brearley put it: "We are merely a think-tank" - Pollock suggested the ICC had provided an indication that they would review the decision to make the next World Cup a 10-team event.
"I think there's going to be a reassessment at their next meeting," he said. "I know they have made a decision but they will discuss it again and if they turn around on what they feel, they might make a change.
"It's a real incentive for the Associates to get involved and play in the World Cup. We just want to be able to dangle the carrot and we think it might be a little frustrating for those teams if they put a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of effort into trying to qualify and then there's a shorter amount of teams it doesn't become a reality for them. That would be pretty disappointing.
"Whether there's a pre-qualifying tournament that happens a couple of weeks before and maybe in places like Ireland and Scotland which would mean that they would be part of it and they'd get their government funding and try and compete: that would be all good and well."
Other areas of discussion included the use of the DRS, the potential of four-day Tests and a call for a survey to understand why some attendances are falling.
The MCC committee, which was an early advocate of the DRS, accepted that Srinivasan "still has reservations as to its use in the game." But they reiterated their view that "it is more accurate than the umpire's decision alone" and that "the spirit of the game is favourably affected by its implementation."
They also asked Srinivasan "to implement DRS at all times should the research currently being conducted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology prove the scientific argument beyond a reasonable doubt."
Four-day Tests have found no favour. While they remain concerned about the long-term health of the format - "the committee fears that, left as it is, the longest form of the game will not survive," their statement says - they were concerned that a four-day format could put "extra strain on players' bodies" and that, in nations with especially variable climate, it would result in an increase in the number of drawn Tests.
The committee also announced, subject to final ratification from the main MCC Committee,a change to two Laws of the game to come into effect from September 1.
The first (Law 41.7) will allow fielders to move in reaction to the shot that the striker is playing; the second (Law 40.4) will allow the wicketkeeper to move in a similar way provided that he remains behind the stumps, but will no longer allow them to move laterally before the ball is delivered or allow them to move forwards in response to a slower delivery.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo