Wisden 2014

Wisden takes aim at Big Three

David Lloyd

April 9, 2014

Comments: 48 | Text size: A | A

Giles Clarke, May 9, 2013
Wisden describes Giles Clarke and his Cricket Australia counterparts as lapdogs to the BCCI © England & Wales Cricket Board
Related Links
Teams: Australia | England | India

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.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by wapuser on (April 11, 2014, 6:03 GMT)

There's too much money involved in modern sports

Posted by   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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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

Posted by 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!

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 18:29 GMT)

Needs some consideration but Cricket can't keep still.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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......

Posted by 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.

Posted by Metro-ant on (April 10, 2014, 11:49 GMT)

I get one reason why they don't play the lower ranked nations is because of a lack of revenue at the gates, but speaking as a Sydney resident I don't see any harm in seeing a team like Bangladesh or Sri Lanka playing a test match at Drummoyne or Blacktown instead of the SCG if this is an issue. After all most of the time people are coming from the suburbs to watch the matches and with their lower capacity grounds it will at least look more like a full house on the telly which I'm sure sponsors would be happy with. Same should be done with Sheffield Shield.

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 11:31 GMT)

As much as people would hurl at the prospect of abolishing the "Test Series" format. As much as I love and adore it, I would like to see a two year cycle where all teams play equal amount of Test matches. Two against each other, home and away. It will give purpose to each test match, even the one's played against weaker teams. At the end of the two year cycle, crown the World Test Champion. 9 Test matches a year then for each team. Test cricket will become lesser but with better quality and purpose. It is still 405 days of Test cricket with a sense of purpose. Team coming last in the league should be relegated, making way for the division two champion. Yes, also create a division two test championship. This will promote Test cricket more than anything else.

Posted by Rahul_78 on (April 10, 2014, 10:20 GMT)

"English and Australian lapdogs." - Sincerely Wish you a good luck Mr.Booth. And hats off to your courage to use such a formidable platform as Wisdon to point to games most pertinent issue.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (April 10, 2014, 8:59 GMT)

The most damning aspect of the carve up among the Big Three is the lack of a true vision. There should be a missionary zeal from the ICC that spreads cricket to the four corners. The C21 is likely to become an age when the world sees the advance of many nations as they move out of poverty, endemic diseases, short life-expectancy & crippling illiteracy. With the coming of a better life for huge numbers of people, an understanding and an enjoyment of cricket should be part of that progress -- and the ICC should be prioritising it. It would be an expression of our collective belief that cricket offers something special, different & deeply satisfying, inbued with values that are well worth nurturing. Unfortunately, I fail to see any such vision from the BCCI, ECB & CA.

Posted by fair_paly_1 on (April 10, 2014, 8:59 GMT)

@IndianMigrant @Cpt.Meanste

One of the richest sports in the world Golf is played over a number of days as well but no one moans like some do about test cricket. Why? Because for some of those Indians who know cricket only as sport wouldn't know what else is played around the world.

Posted by shane-oh on (April 10, 2014, 8:55 GMT)

Great to see Wisden speaking sense - saying that only thing, in fact, that makes sense in the context of the disgraceful actions of the Axis of Evil.

As for the never ending argument about test cricket, it's simple. If you don't like tests, don't watch them. It's not my job to convince you to be a real cricket fan.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on (April 10, 2014, 8:47 GMT)

@Cpt.Meanster, T20 is not even cricket. The T20 world cup was a snoozefest. Predicatable socres, predictable results, tiny little boundaries why mis-hits and outside edges fly for six, beamers, dropped catches galore. It was a shambles and without doubt it barely resembles the game that is test cricekt. As far as the Wisden stance, I agree entirely. It is embarassing to as an Aussie to be associated with the ECB and the BCCI as we partner with them to destroy the game for cash.

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 7:59 GMT)

Plenty can be done about it sir_francis.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (April 10, 2014, 7:55 GMT)

In response to Cpt.Meanster- I would just quote Rahul Dravid's comments made on this subject recently: "Test cricket, an older, larger entity is the trunk of a tree and the shorter game - be it T20 or ODIs - is its branches, its offshoots," Rahul says. He adds "Now to be fair, it is the branches that carry the fruit, earn the benefits of the larger garden in which they stand and so catch the eye. The trunk, though, is the old, massive, larger thing which took a very long time to reach height and bulk. But it is actually a life source: chip away at the trunk or cut it down and the branches will fall off, the fruit will dry up."

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 7:46 GMT)

@glance_to_leg I completely agree with your comment. Well said sir/madam :) @IndianMigrant you sir cannot appreciate true cricket. It's pointless arguing with u though.

Posted by PrasPunter on (April 10, 2014, 7:35 GMT)

@fair_paly_1, absolutely, fans from india as usual seem to complain a lot. If they don't like it, stay away - we never asked you to follow the Ashes !!!

Posted by PrasPunter on (April 10, 2014, 7:26 GMT)

@IndianMigrant, Ashes shall be irrelevant to you , but not for everyone. The last time i checked, cricket is played outside india too. So keep your opinions, likes and dislikes to yourself as your own.

P.S. How did the defeat against SL taste ?

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 7:05 GMT)

Ask same people what they are doing in Rugby......why same things are not asked in that game, because it is convinient

Posted by M.Faheem on (April 10, 2014, 7:00 GMT)

Great to know that there are some voices in cricketing world who can talk on 'Principles'. Wisden's contributions for Cricket over past 150 years make them amongst the 'owners' of cricket.

Posted by Mark55 on (April 10, 2014, 0:34 GMT)

The masters start this week, first they play a par 3 competition , then they play four days of real golf

That is how I see the difference between T20 and Test cricket

You may be able to pitch and putt, but can you drive?

Posted by   on (April 9, 2014, 23:22 GMT)

No body has a full day for seeing dot balls. Whenever I turned my pc, I visit CC and see the score at the end of the day. Last time, I saw a match between England and Australia, when England won by few runs.

Posted by glance_to_leg on (April 9, 2014, 21:10 GMT)

I have said it before, and shall say it again: test cricket is the greatest sport on earth. Even periods of slow scoring are fascinating. They provide contrast to the clatter of wickets, and explosive batting, or carefully crafted innings. Test cricket reveals character, and it is character as well as athleticism and talent that makes for fascinating viewing. Test cricket builds on tradition, yet also innovates and borrows. T20 is also wonderful, because it is digestible, accessible, fast and furious, and involves brilliant and innovative skills, constantly evolving tactics. The dreadful, tedious, and pointless cricket that must go is the one day stuff. No real narrative, horribly formulaic, and a complete waste of everyone's time. Two games ought to emerge (five day and T20) with some players crossing between them (as they do between Rugby League or even Australian rules and Union), but most will specialise in one format. And OD rubbish can just die out for good.

Posted by IndianMigrant on (April 9, 2014, 20:44 GMT)

Test cricket need not be nurtured. Only people who shout that test cricket primacy should be maintained are organizations like wisden, MCC who have vested interests to maintain their relevance. If people don't want to watch test let's not give it to them. This may be obvious but still some purist and people who hate BCCI dont' get it, you cannot thrush anything on the customers. If customers don't want test cricket then lets send test cricket to oblivion. If people are honest only way test cricket will prosper and flourish is thru t20. Best thing for cricket is to kill the nation best contest and fully move towards t20 leagues. Only international fixtues should be alternated between ODI world cup and T20. If England and Aus wants to play the irrelevant ashes so be it

Posted by KrikIndFan on (April 9, 2014, 20:04 GMT)

Having watched more ODIs than test and no T20 while growing up, I simply love ODI matches and it always be my fav. format but in no way would I want it to force on others to watch especially the new generation if they find it boring. My dad grew up watching test but he simply loves the other 2 formats. The point is, one has to change with time and so does cricket and its fans. Moreover, we're all forgetting the main reason on why the "purest" form of cricket is played less... MONEY. T20 & ODI generates more money than test, whether you like it or not. And if 30 years later, ODI dies too because of lack of ticket sales/viewership, then?.......Accept it and move on.

Posted by seo7seo on (April 9, 2014, 19:50 GMT)

Lawrence Booth has given words to what majority around the globe had in its mind. As far as test cricket and 20 20 are concerned, I would say if someone wants to be a genuine skilled cricketer, he has to play test cricket. I don't know a man who claims to be a cricket lover but does not watch test match (on TV) between Pakistan and India or Austria vs UK. It is not possible to abandon test cricket just because a few 20 20 premier leagues are earning more money. 20 20 is just a "fluke" format of cricket. It is acceptable as players can make a handsome amount of money. Hence, the ideal age for playing T20 is 20s (before 25 to be precise).

Posted by fair_paly_1 on (April 9, 2014, 19:13 GMT)


Test cricket has nothing to do with "living in the old times". That's how the game originated and would remain the premier format. There are many short sports in the world. Watch those if you don't like tests. Has tennis, football, rugby evolved over time? Stop complaining about tests. Let those millions watch who like it.

Posted by   on (April 9, 2014, 18:47 GMT)

those who think test cricket is time wasting then they are not true fans of cricket test cricket is most aswome form of ckt bouncers,edges,bold,presure,elegant shots,selective aggression and defence all at it's peak provided pitches are made proplerly.i luv watching quality test cricket. "TEST CRICKET IS PUREST AND NATURAL FORM OF CRICKET"

Posted by Nutcutlet on (April 9, 2014, 18:24 GMT)

@Posted by Cpt.Meanster (April 9, 2014, 15:51 GMT): greetings! About twice a year we have to go over old ground, you & I. To answer your question head on. A good Test match feeds my soul; satisfies a hunger for a sporting aesthetic; teases me with the possibilities of what is to come as the match unfurls like a tapestry never seen before. I watch the captains and how they execute their strategies; I look for strengths and weaknesses among the participants: for instance, a bowler who keeps (or loses) his discipline as the batsmen move into aggressive mode; or a batsman who shores up a broken innings for his side scoring a gutsy 70 in 3 hrs when the next highest score is 10... I could go on. There are infinite areas of interest, a mixture of excitement and suspense and the time to enjoy (or endure) both. I am less interested in Eng winning than in watching a fine Test, during which the players give of their very best, because each player knows that TC sits at the apex of cricket. BW.

Posted by   on (April 9, 2014, 18:06 GMT)

I love Test Cricket, but I think what's killing the fan support, is the fact that too much Test Cricket is being played at the moment. When I was a youngster we had, may be, 2 or 3 test series a year. There would be a series between England and West Indies in the summer, when that was over, some time around may or June, then there would be India against Pakistan. Followed by AUstralia against South Africa, in the Australian summer. In those days there were no ODI or T20 matches. Players got to spend more time with there family. Now with the advent of the ODI and the very entertaining 20/20 matches, it is literally impossible to for the fan to keep up with what's being thrown at him. Seems like there's some sort of International Cricket match being played around the world, every day and night. Why not one test series for each test playing Country per year, and then have the ODIs and T20s when there's no Test Cricket. Players wouldn't have to choose between Tests and the other formats.

Posted by RD_INDIAN on (April 9, 2014, 17:36 GMT)

@aseem Sharrna The reason test cricket need to be nurtured is because thts where the players develop their skills which is used in the shorter formats. in test cricket u can keep trying till u succeed but in the shorter formats u have fewer opportunities to come back and sometimes u cant even get an opportunity. the lower order batsman may nt need to bat and an allrounder may nt get to bowl and bat in a game because a part time bowler bowled well tht day wheras in test cricket no matter wht happens ull be required 95% of the time to do wht u were seleted in th XI for. We wouldnt learn abt reverse swing if it wasnt discovered in test criecket. where would the bowlers learn those skills and thinking abt taking wickets if nt in test cricket. Test cricket helps a person plan and execute it.

Posted by Jaffa79 on (April 9, 2014, 16:22 GMT)

@ Cpt.Meanster, I respect that everyone has different takes on cricket but I wholeheartedly disagree! Test cricket is the purest and highest form of the game. To be good at the 5 day stuff is not something that you can probably appreciate; T20 is a smash bang wallop sideshow that appeals to a specific audience. You can be a 20 ball wonder (e.g. Kieran Pollard) but I just don't see it a T20 specialist as anywhere near as skillful as a Test cricketer. It is a cartoon v a feature length movie. Test cricketers have different conditions, bowlers, fields and environments to negotiate. T20 is just swing at the hip and hope. Good for a giggle but comparable to Tests in terms of ability, temperament and resilience? Nope. I hate the way England, Australia and India have carved up the empire. How is it fair for NZ, Windies, Pakistan and the rest? It is self interest pure and simple and will kill the global game.

Posted by   on (April 9, 2014, 16:13 GMT)

I don't understand why the test game needs to be 'nurtured as the primary format'. If test cricket was in such good health, and so many people want to play it and watch it, it wouldn't need nurturing. Is 11-a-side football nurtured with the advent of the 5-a-side game? Is Rugby Union nurtured because Rugby League threatens it? No, there is no need to deliberately nourish such sports; they succeed based on their own merits. If test cricket fails to do that, why is it necessary to nurture it. Why must we force people to like and enjoy something which is apparently so amazing that it should need no such action! As a side note, I enjoy test cricket, but I don't see the need to force it on people, or nations.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (April 9, 2014, 15:51 GMT)

Give me one compelling reason to watch test cricket. Why would I waste 5 valuable days of my life watching ONE game ? I could have 5 ODIs or several T20s in that same amount of time. The recent World T20 has demonstrated why T20 is the best format of the sport. If England love their test cricket, so be it. It makes sense given they invented the format. Ironically, they also invented T20 which is a smart thing. But to preach to the rest of the world how 'great' test cricket is means they are basically living in the old times. Cricket is a shrinking sport and only T20 can make it strong and grow. Nobody has the time to sit for 5 days and watch a test match. Well, the majority of the world doesn't except for those in a couple of countries.

Posted by   on (April 9, 2014, 15:41 GMT)

Cricket should not be expected to change when it comes to Test cricket. For over 150 years it has been the ultimate pinnacle of the game and needs to be protected to ensure that is still the case - no matter what the progress of other formats. That is the job the administrators should try to stick to and if many feel that test cricket is not the pinnacle of the game - that to me shows much the global administrations have failed to ensure the future of the game.

Posted by Fanof2020 on (April 9, 2014, 14:08 GMT)

Interesting article. I take exception to the comment "The Test game needed to be nurtured as the primary format,". Who has the time to watch a match for 5 days? Times are changing and cricket needs to change with time. The constant use of "Tradition" as an excuse has to go.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (April 9, 2014, 13:19 GMT)

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." I cannot agree more, Wisden.

Posted by   on (April 9, 2014, 13:15 GMT)

Every Era cricket have changed and there were many who oppose the new set of rules and editions....But now all the 3 formats are played...If the power is for the better and improvement of the cricket with a well devised plan.Then change in power should be accepted. As far is cricket the basic game is played fair, i support anyone who will enhance the game.

Posted by   on (April 9, 2014, 13:13 GMT)

Lawrence Booth - Hero. Thanks for speaking out about the game i loved and now don't.

Posted by stormy16 on (April 9, 2014, 12:32 GMT)

There was a time that everyone waited for the annual treasured copy of the Wisdne but times have changed. Finally someone with the guts to call a spade a spade. Lets face it folks, big, small rich or poor there are some basics in sports that one simply doesnt tamper with and the very essence of that being an equal playing field for competition. This basic principle is not up for discussion in sports in all but cricket. When you want to compete in your own terms with who you chose this no longer a sport - this is a television that some call a joke! Thanks for Wisden for saying it as is but what about the rest - wait a minute, everyone has been bought over. Sad really but interesting that the recent ICC event, 2 of the big 3 didnt make the paly offs, previous event, similar, the previous, similar and its ironic that SL opposed the big 3 but have appeared 5 ICC WC finals in a row and have financial problems!

Posted by muftee on (April 9, 2014, 10:46 GMT)

NOBODY is bigger than game of cricket. It is ridiculous to give the position "BIG" without considering there game. It should be game of cricket to decide 'Who' is big, not circumsyances outside cricket ground. Let it be world Ranking system which decide 3 bigs. Those who hold first 3 positions in ranking can be considered "BIG" and let them have some advantages including economical till they hold that position. BUT as soon as ranking change, then position of BIG should be change also. Such as change can make cricket more interesting in cricket grounds to reach at Big 3 position.

Posted by umairasgharbutt on (April 9, 2014, 8:56 GMT)

how to buy book that from pakistan?

Posted by Sir_Francis on (April 9, 2014, 8:29 GMT)

I'm wondering how influential Wisden actually is? Will the Boards of India, England & Australia give a toss?

I suspect not.

Cricket is going through massive changes in structure and it will come out a vastly different game to the one older people such as myself grew up and love.

I'd be surprised if Tests or even FC cricket will survive in the next 10-20 years.

But nothing one can do about it.

Comments have now been closed for this article

Email Feedback Print
Country Fixtures Country Results
SAf Invit XI v Eng Lions at Soweto
Jan 5-7, 2015 (10:30 local | 08:30 GMT | 03:30 EST | 02:30 CST | 00:30 PST)
1st unofficial Test: Sth Africa A v Eng Lions at Paarl
Jan 11-14, 2015 (10:30 local | 08:30 GMT | 03:30 EST | 02:30 CST | 00:30 PST)
England XI v Act Inv XI at Canberra
Jan 12, 2015 (10:00 local | 23:00 GMT | 18:00 EST | 17:00 CST | 15:00 PST)
England XI v PM's XI at Canberra
Jan 14, 2015 (14:20 local | 03:20 GMT | 22:20 EST | 21:20 CST | 19:20 PST)
Australia v England at Sydney
Jan 16, 2015 (14:20 local | 03:20 GMT | 22:20 EST | 21:20 CST | 19:20 PST)
Complete fixtures » | Download Fixtures »
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days