Wisden 2014 April 9, 2014

Wisden takes aim at Big Three

David Lloyd

England's fallen cricketers can finally breathe a sigh of relief - they are not the biggest cause for concern so far as one of the game's most influential, and widely heard, voices is concerned.

Normally, an Ashes whitewashing described as the worst result in England's 137-year Test history would earn top billing in Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. And most editions of the Big Yellow Book, certainly those published during the past three or four decades, would have seen the editor devoting more than five paragraphs of his Notes to the sacking of a box office superstar like Kevin Pietersen.

But while England - struggling captain, former coach, miscalculating selectors, one time golden boy-turned he-who-must-never-darker-our-door-again and all - are examined in turn, it is another subject entirely that first encourages Wisden onto its soapbox.

"Cricket is appallingly administered and is vulnerable to economic exploitation by the one country powerful to exploit it and the two countries prepared to lend their plans credibility," Lawrence Booth writes in Wisden's leader column or Notes by the Editor.

Step forward (and don't take a bow) India, England and Australia. Yes, it was the "big three's" 2014 masterplan for world cricket that bothered Wisden more than anything else as its 151st edition was being put to bed.

"The boards of India, England and Australia had quietly crafted a document which claimed to safeguard the game's future while more obviously safeguarding their own," Booth writes.

"In sum, the BCCI wanted an even larger slice of the ICC pie, and the ECB and Cricket Australia happily acquiesced, knowing their portion would grow too. The rest were assured they would be better off. And who could object to a world with more money for everyone?

"Here was a colonial style divide and rule. Here was the realpolitik of modern cricket. It was hard to read this any other way: the rich would be getting a whole lot richer."

Elsewhere in Wisden, Giles Clarke, the ECB's Chairman, is given two pages to state the case for the defence, although state the case for "our vision for a better game" is how he would put it.

"Following much discussion, with two meetings in Dubai and a third in Singapore, agreement was reached and resolutions were passed on February 8," Clarke writes. "As so often in cricket administration, these were widely - perhaps deliberately - misinterpreted. We had to harden ourselves against uninformed and biased comment to deliver our vision for a better and more financially secure cricketing world."

Clarke and co are no doubts still hardening themselves, so to speak - especially should they read comments like one in Booth's notes that refers to India's "English and Australian lapdogs."

"The Test game needed to be nurtured as the primary format," Clarke writes. And he adds: "The FTP has not been abolished but left to individual boards to arrange among themselves. It has been extended to 2023 with the top eight nations playing each other. And India do not get a veto."

Contrast that to what Booth reads into the Big Three's original draft document (which was leaked to ESPNcricinfo) and which Wisden's editor believes "may reveal the true motivation, before compromise reins it in."

Booth states: "At its heart lay the BCCI's desire not merely to oust the ICC as the game's governing body but to wean themselves, eventually, off all but the most lucrative international fixtures, and to create more space for domestic Twenty20."

So you pay your money (£50 in the case of both hardback and softcover versions of Wisden 2014) and you take your choice.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • wapuser on April 11, 2014, 6:03 GMT

    There's too much money involved in modern sports

  • dummy4fb on April 11, 2014, 3:24 GMT

    Well, I think this is the last nail on the coffin of the noble game of cricket, thanks to BCCI.

  • dunger.bob on April 10, 2014, 22:12 GMT


    I think England and Australia recognised the threat and were keen to form this un-holy alliance in an attempt to minimise and/or delay the damage. It might not be the perfect solution but at least it is a solution. .. I actually applaud both boards because at least they did something. It's got to be better than the alternative which I outlined earlier. It's given the cricket world 8 years to sort itself out. .. Let's hope they use the time wisely.

  • dunger.bob on April 10, 2014, 22:05 GMT

    I don't understand the "I love T20 but hate Tests" or vice versa flavour that many of these posts reek of. I enjoy all the formats because they bring different things to the table for the consumer to enjoy. .. I truly, honestly and completely don't understand how it can be so divisive. I'm probably wrong, usually am about such matters, but I think that those people who are so vehemently against one format or another aren't true cricket fans. I think that sort of thinking is soundly based in Nationalism rather than anything to do with the game of cricket.

    As for the big 3 thing. Well, something had to be done, didn't it. India were on the verge of breaking away and forming their own league. That, in itself, is no big deal but there was a heavily implied and very doable threat that they would 'buy up' the bulk of the world's cricket talent. In effect the other nations would be left to carry on with 2nd or 3rd string players. ... This was very much on the cards, make no mistake. .. cont

  • cricfan65 on April 10, 2014, 20:08 GMT

    As the saying goes " time and tide wait for no man " . Yes, Test Cricket is dying, will probably disappear in the subcontinent in the next 10-15 years. Maybe the Ashes and a few other matchups will survive a litte longer. Maybe. For those of us who grew up watching it, it will be a painful loss. But the newer generations of fans- they will NEVER get to witness the majesty, the artistry, the sublimity, dare I say the sheer poetry of this great game when it is played properly. They will see plenty of " entertaining " cricket in the form of T20; it may very well be the sole survivor amongst the formats. But they will never see the likes of Holding, Richards, Imran, Botham, Tendulkar, Warne, Mural and others in full flow, except on some dusty Youtube clip. What a pity!

  • dummy4fb on April 10, 2014, 18:29 GMT

    Needs some consideration but Cricket can't keep still.

  • Fogu on April 10, 2014, 16:01 GMT

    Test matches are like classical simphony with ebbs and flows throughout five days. Even draws are exciting. The difference between Tests and T20 is similar to Classic songs by great singers with good lyrics, rythm and vocals as opposed to every tom dick and harry coming up with songs composed with heavy reliance on computer programs. No soul to it. However, the point of Wisden article is not cricket but power and greed which was on full display. People often equate money to success and I think that will be the downfall of cricket. I agree with the person who wrote that every nation should play home and away series for two years and then crown a champion.

  • wonderstar1 on April 10, 2014, 15:47 GMT

    @praspunter. How did thev Aussies 1st round exit taste mate? I guess very sweet indeed. haha.. You have never won T-20 WC and are commenting about a team which has won t20 wc. very funny indeed. First try to qualify for the second round and then we will talk who is better.

  • rickp15 on April 10, 2014, 13:38 GMT

    @ Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug---- rather watch paint dry then watch boring snoring Test cricket...... get with the times or move over and get out of the way, test cricket is done!. Its on its last support line... barely alive and only alive because its funded by ODI/T20 cricket ...... that's the format that pays the way for test cricket to survive......

  • Protears on April 10, 2014, 11:58 GMT

    India just don't want to play that powerhouse New Zealand ever again, and I don't blame them after the hiding to nothing they got. If India invested more interest in the longer format they may actually revive test cricket to its golden era and there is no shortage of talent, only the way it is nurtured, the skillset of Indian batsmen and the ability to graft an innings under pressure is wanting. Kholi and Pujara are the only test calibre players India has, the rest are fair weather sailors easily intimidated and broken.