August 28, 2011

The international game needs an overhaul

Australia's review has been window-dressing, and India are unlikely to have one at all, but international cricket as a whole needs thinking about, if it's not to be reduced to just Twenty20

Following a comprehensive defeat by England, Cricket Australia ordered a major review of its structure. England then crushed India, so does that mean their cricket system is also headed for a major overhaul?

The group who should most favour such a move is India's selection panel. They should hope a review sees them lose their jobs, and with it the daunting task of picking from the rubble a competitive side to tour Australia. The Indian selectors have backed themselves into an alley so blind a maze expert would have trouble negotiating a way out.

I doubt India will follow Australia's example, though. Both countries have in common a recent thrashing by a rampant England but that's where their cricketing DNAs diverge. And anyway, Australia's review appears to include a good deal of window-dressing.

The announcement that CA had ordered a review of its performance by an outside agency provided a major clue as to where the problem lay. If CA had utilised the right balance of expert cricket knowledge and business acumen, it would have been alerted to looming problems. The shortcomings noted, it would then only require making adjustments to limit the short-term damage and take far-sighted decisions to ensure an upward swing was not too far in the future.

Any review of a cricket administration needs to most importantly make sure there's a system in place producing skilful, competitive young cricketers, and a constant supply of proficient leaders. Then it only requires an efficient selection panel with the nous to choose the right combination. With those pieces of the puzzle in place the national team will win regularly, and the rest pretty much takes care of itself.

If the Argus review is saying - in a long-winded, jargon filled document - that the right structure wasn't in place, then there is no solution to the main issue yet. The people who oversaw the crumbling structure are the same ones now charged with the responsibility of implementing the changes to the system.

CA named its major money-spinning tournament the Big Bash - a name that conjures up visions of lunchtime cricket in the schoolyard. It further trivialised the competition by miking cricketers on the field and allowing a celebrity player to represent an interstate team. These moves suggested a not-so-serious competition at a time when cricket was busily trying to stamp out player corruption. Now the revamped Big Bash is encouraging players to cast aside loyalty and follow the dollar wherever it leads.

Why, it was only last decade that the best cricket blueprint was to note what England did and do the opposite. Now everyone wants to copy the English system

While CA has unwittingly diminished a valuable commodity, the rest of the cricket world lavishly rewards players competing in the shortest form of the game. Maximum pay for minimum exertion could well be the theme for the Twenty20 pay structure.

There are exceptions, but in general, human nature will gravitate towards the least demanding option. Not surprisingly, outlandish rewards in T20 cricket (which in many cases don't match ability or effort) are leading to self-interest among the players.

T20 cricket will not stand alone. This is not purely a business enterprise we're talking about, it's a game. If T20 is eventually the only form of the game played, you'll have cricket without artists or artistry. There's already growing evidence that T20 cricket is eroding batting skills.

It's a general rule that cricket administrations fail to fully think matters through before implementing new ideas. Another given that you can bet on as surely as a short-priced favourite: cricket doesn't have a grand plan to provide a cohesive and prosperous future for all three forms of the game.

If there is a mood for restructuring cricket, first rebuild the system that's really failing - the international governance of the game.

To think all this upheaval has been brought about by a rampant England. Why, it was only last decade that the best cricket blueprint was to note what England did and do the opposite. Now everyone wants to copy the English system.

If only the structure of the international game could be turned around so quickly and successfully.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator and columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Martin on August 30, 2011, 22:37 GMT

    @Dinker Rkn - haven't seen your posts before, but nicely put; "(Indian players) are not UNLUCKY but GUILTY of being unfit, injured". There may be a case for overhauling the "world game" - but ECB, CA, BCCI, etc will squable and never agree on any reforms that don't serve or promote their agendas most. I can't see it happening that the Test match format will be put in it's rightful place at the centre until agreements are arrived at. People have short attention spans now and the marketting men have taken control. IPL pays much more than Test matches..... so why bother with Test matches? This seems to have been the approach of the Indians on this tour. Shameful.

  • Dummy4 on August 30, 2011, 11:18 GMT

    the views expressed by certain Indian posters are detrimental to Indian cricket.Instead of being furious many are justifying and sympathising with the Indian players saying they were "under prepared" "unlucky to be unfit" etc.they are professional cricketers and they are not UNLUCKY but GUILTY of being unfit,injured and out of sorts.That is the case.Infact I should say the world really is round and turns around.This kind of atrocious attitude shows up when you have hit the trough.I remember certain English commentators and viewers (NOT ALL) sympathizing with the winners after the Stanford the nxt test match they were dismissed for 54 in WI.luckily it died in infancy.I aint blaming IPL for everything like some,but it needs to be balanced.hope this gets published.....

  • Oliver on August 30, 2011, 7:30 GMT

    (sigh) OK I think it's worth clearing a few things up :) 1. English fans know this is not "the best team ever". It's very good, though. 2. No, England have not played in the subcontinent recently, and yes, when they do, it will be a good test of their all-round ability. 3. No, there is nothing wrong with preparing pitches which favour spin, just as there is nothing wrong with preparing pitches which favour fast bowling. This is the kind of stuff that makes cricket interesting. 4. Yes, we remember the Ashes 2006-7 - it was a disaster for England. Please note: nobody said that it was "unfair" due to Aussie conditions or "it wasn't their fault" as they were badly prepared. 5. The Indian team was very badly prepared for this summer's England series. That doesn't make it "unfair" or "unlucky" that they lost. 6. Surprise - one-day form and test form are *not the same*! Yes, India won the world cup - congratulations; no, England did not do very well - commiserations. That'll do for now!

  • Dummy4 on August 30, 2011, 6:15 GMT

    England have always harbored a certain type and level of systematic competence... even in the 1990s they seemed to do the small things right. That, that competence is now enough to become the most dominant team in the game, is a pronouncement more on the overall quality of test cricket than on specific structures of Indian or Australian systems.

    It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that cricket has entered its age of mediocrity.

  • Randolph on August 30, 2011, 0:09 GMT

    Tell you what I don't know who is clutching at straws more, the poms thinking they are the best team ever or India thinking their loss was an anomaly based on injuries. At least Oz will hit #1 soon and end all of this frivolity!

  • Andrew on August 29, 2011, 20:01 GMT

    Interesting comments hira02??? Not the players fault that they were underprepared,not fit both physically and mentally....whos fault is it then???

  • duncan on August 29, 2011, 18:33 GMT

    Cricket needs a root & branch overhaul from top to bottom. at the moment it is a 19th Century elitist club masquerading as a 21st Century global sport, what a joke. how the other world sporting bodies must snigger behind the ICC's back.

  • Oliver on August 29, 2011, 18:27 GMT

    @Karthy Thik: yes, of course! Just like after the disastrous Ashes 2006-7

  • Martin on August 29, 2011, 17:08 GMT

    @hira02 "as for this 4-0 series loss im not concerned at all it wasnt the players fault they were unlucky with injuries..lackd preparation and importantly mentally unfit". So everything in India cricket is fine eh? Laughable. @zico123; You have posted a comment that doesn't include the word "unfair". What's wrong? I think it's unfair that practically everytime anyone with the name of Chappell makes a comment a load of Indians come on here to say that the Chappells are gunning for them. LOL.

  • Dummy4 on August 29, 2011, 17:07 GMT

    what if english loses 4-0 in india does it mean they r not orgainsed needs special reform?

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