January 18, 2014

Two-tier Test system, my foot

It's not right to abandon teams like New Zealand and West Indies who have given their all to prop up the game over the years
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Talk of a two-tier system for Test cricket is shallow. To confine West Indies and New Zealand to the outhouse is disrespectful and ignores the great history that has built up over a century or more. Did we hear of a two-tier system when Australia were drowning in the mid-1980s? Or when England were being smashed by West Indies in Test after Test, series after series? Or when India weren't even in the top four during the same decade?

South Africa are excused, for they were deep in isolation, yet when they came back in 1991, did we suggest they try out in the second division first? During the '80s, West Indies totally dominated, while New Zealand were unbeaten at home for 12 long years, as well as winning away in England and Australia. For that, they command respect, through thick and thin.

And yet, we hear from the likes of even Rahul Dravid, that a two-tier system is a good idea. With respect to Rahul, what is good about it?

This doesn't feel right. It's not right to abandon upstanding nations, countries that have given their all to prop up the game, to cast them adrift. It is so disappointing that the ICC has failed again to find the right formula for showcasing Test cricket and crowning a champion on a regular basis.

The very least they can do is arrange for the top two teams to play and allow someone to raise the mace. Someone. The problem for those languishing in fifth place and below is that those bottom teams will never get back the points they need, over at least two, probably three, years to contest for a place in a final, leaving the same teams to compete for the title. This is not what a competition is about.

Competition in sport is normally held annually, or in the case of the traditional Ryder Cup, every two years. Following a normal competition, in the off season, teams can regroup and come again, trying to find the recipe for the crowning glory at season's end. The winning team tries to recapture that winning way and repeat their success. Of course there are no off seasons in cricket. It's so ridiculously complicated, especially with three formats to juggle, that a team can hardly catch its breath before it's asked to go on another meaningless tour, or play another fruitless series of one-dayers.

There are eight very proud cricketing nations that have earned kudos and respect the world over for their longevity and endeavour, over the course of the game's history. I don't include Bangladesh, with respect, as they haven't played enough, nor won enough since their introduction. Nor Zimbabwe, with their political interference and lack of resources. The eight major teams deserve the chance to bounce back from difficult times. Who knows, maybe England are about to enter a period of sheer hell. Will they be abandoned the way that folk are talking about demoting New Zealand and West Indies?

Sport is mostly cyclical, despite the long period that both West Indies and New Zealand have been down and out. Instead they need support and encouragement, not a kick in the proverbial. Talk of promotion and relegation is bizarre given there are only eight teams that have ever played Test cricket with any degree of success.

If Ireland, Afghanistan and others are to be encouraged to play Test cricket one day, they should start by playing first-class cricket against the likes of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Surely this is the prerequisite to stepping into the cauldron of the elite. Bangladesh have made the mistake of not playing enough first-class cricket to prepare their players. And lately New Zealand and West Indies have too often focused on the shorter forms, either internationally or domestically, ignoring their Test priorities and losing their mojo in the process. The solution is to remove the pointless T20 internationals, and the repetitive one-dayers; I can guarantee, their Test form will improve.

Why can't the four Test series that invariably take place every November to February between the top eight teams count as the quarter-finals of a competition, culminating in two semis and a grand final?

If it's not done, then Test cricket will die. The big four will survive and even flourish, however the others will wilt away and be gone for good as new generations learn a different way. A way that is not cricket, only a caricature of it. What is a sport, or format of it, when only four or five teams can play it?

Why has the World Test Championship failed to gain traction? Television and financial revenue first come to mind. It's mighty expensive to televise Tests, let alone get folk to come along in a cash-strapped world. Only the Ashes Tests truly fill grounds and generate good revenue. Why? Because the history of the series demands it. That's why a Test competition needs to happen. There won't be a perfect remedy here. Everyone needs to be flexible and open-minded and allow Test cricket a chance to show it can crown a champion regularly.

Here are some questions I need to ask. Why can't the four Test series that invariably take place every November to February between the top eight teams count as the quarter-finals of a competition that culminates in two semis and a grand final? Why can't those with the better ranking go through to the semis or the final, if the game is drawn? Why can't it be mixed up with the top four playing away against the four lower-placed teams (knowing they have a higher ranking and need to be beaten outright to not go through) to create a true challenge and encourage unpredictability? Isn't this what will captivate the watching audience? Is it not worth a go, and as it unfolds, can't adjustments be made as the purpose becomes clearer?

Shall we just sit idly by doing nothing, or start disrespecting teams by placing them in a back paddock, abandoned, to slowly but surely die as the funds and enthusiasm dry up? This is all becoming a playground where the bully boys decide the punishment. It's sickening.

Let's pay dues to all those who have served the game well. Let's include them in all that we do. Let's keep it simple and meaningful. Let's protect the very format that exudes, clarifies, portrays, recognises and exemplifies the true nature of cricket. And let's grow it over time.

The Test Cricket Open, an eight-team knockout competition staged annually or every two years, deserves a run, including those long-standing nations that have served the game so well.

Martin Crowe, one of the leading batsmen of the late '80s, played 77 Tests for New Zealand

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SrinR on January 18, 2014, 6:00 GMT

    For once, Martin Crowe has put away analytical thinking; he is appealing to the emotions here. There are several contradictions in this piece. He talks of 'teams being asked to go on meaningless tours'. At present, a tour to the West Indies is very much 'meaningless' for the top ranked teams, for the Windies have descended down to the level of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Of course the potential is there, and there is every possibility they will improve and become good again, but until then, they do deserve to be relegated; this is unfortunately the truth. I don't think NZ are that bad. I think at present, SA and Aus are clearly the top teams; India still an unknown quantity - done reasonably well in SA, but with new players, will take a series or two to establish; so that leaves, in my opinion, four teams floating in the next rung - SL, Eng, NZ and Pak in the order of their strengths atm. NZ, i think have a good chance of getting into the 1st tier in the proposed system.

  • VisBal on January 18, 2014, 5:29 GMT

    Martin is right. One of the main reasons why the teams at the bottom are unable to rise is because of the funding situation. As everyone knows, there are now only 3 boards that run a surplus. CSA scrapes by on a year by year basis. If boards do not have sufficient income, they cannot invest in growth at the grassroots. The switch to a 2-tier system where 3 boards are locked in Tier-1 (irrespective of on-field performance) will only lead the bottom 4 to stagnate and wither away. They now lose the marketing opportunity that comes with playing a Big Team, and their share of ICC money will also go down. That will hurt development and continue poor on-field performances. The top four and bottom four will be frozen in place. Only 5 and 6 will swap every year or two.

  • kidiman on January 18, 2014, 5:14 GMT

    I'm Indian but I agree with Martin Crowe that two Tier system is not good for cricket. Test cricket should be encouraged between member nations like Scoland, Holland, Irleand, Afghanistan and Kenya on time period basis. If any member team comes top at the end of the time period than that should be allowed to play test cricket with other top test playing nation for eg if Ireland tops the list then it should play S Africa would ranked number one in test cricket ratings. They would exposed to playing against top quality team and also spectators would love to watch new team playing test cricket against the best team in the world. So it would encourage spectators to the ground also. Also I would like member team should play against domestic team of top test cricket team like playing aganist domestic teams of India, England, Australia, SA, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and West Indies. The domestic teams of test playing should play in against member teams home ground also. It would also garner expe

  • on January 25, 2014, 20:52 GMT

    More natios playing tests will improve the variety of opponents for teams even those at the bottom can schedule matches with more teams. We need Ireland Afghanistan and USA to fall in one day. Cricket World cup should host 20 teams 4 groups of 5 and allow developing teams to play. Kenya, Netherlands etc.

  • on January 25, 2014, 20:49 GMT

    problem with relegation and promotion system in cricket is the timeit is played over. Any team promoted will simply be knocked down in 2 years. teams need at least 10 years to build up knowledge skills and development structures. Sri Lanka took a while and so did Bangladesh. Ireland and Afghanistan should be promoted to test flight cricket. Lower teams and top teams must be scheduled to play each other and to fit smaller teams in between big tours.

  • on January 22, 2014, 18:47 GMT

    may be it should look like this 10 upper tier (test) 10 lower tier(first class) a) with all upper tier teams subject to relegation to first class in case of being no 9 and 10 after every two years b) with all lower tier teams subject to promotion to test arena in case of being no 1 and 2 after every two years

  • Insult_2_Injury on January 22, 2014, 3:23 GMT

    With national sporting competitions there are equalisation measures implemented when inequity appears between teams. From a hard headed point of view the terminally weak get the flick and the weaker get measurable assistance and funding to implement improvement. A more equal TOTAL competition is a more profitable competition.

    All talk of tiers, etc is an indictment on the ICC. Of course all the 'interested parties' ignore the elephant in the room - Indian led ICC happy for revenue to centre on Indian cricket. It's time for a coup and restructure of the ICC to ensure distribution for competitive members. What's the point of saying here's membership - good luck paying for a 250 day international travel schedule and building stadia adequate for our 'product'! Get the game's revenue working for the game to strengthen the struggling countries and forget about divisive tiers.

  • on January 21, 2014, 15:15 GMT

    We already have an unofficial 2 tier system. Some teams hardly play each other while most series are 2 tests or at best 3 tests.

  • on January 21, 2014, 8:37 GMT

    Agree with Martin Crowe here; I think if the objective is to encourage other nations to get into test status, it is good to have a system of including them as the second tier, but for sure, the current 8 teams should not be relegated from the first level.

  • Almightys on January 21, 2014, 8:35 GMT

    Why to be wary when there is chance of coming back, suppose if NZ is relegated then they have very good chance to be on top in the tier2 and again come back to tier1 in next season. Here Season I consider is 1 year season, where each team will play max 2 tests at home and away basis and each test should be of 4 days only. Everything will improve here. I know its bad for West Indies but if they top in 2nd tier then they have chance to play in tier 1

  • SrinR on January 18, 2014, 6:00 GMT

    For once, Martin Crowe has put away analytical thinking; he is appealing to the emotions here. There are several contradictions in this piece. He talks of 'teams being asked to go on meaningless tours'. At present, a tour to the West Indies is very much 'meaningless' for the top ranked teams, for the Windies have descended down to the level of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Of course the potential is there, and there is every possibility they will improve and become good again, but until then, they do deserve to be relegated; this is unfortunately the truth. I don't think NZ are that bad. I think at present, SA and Aus are clearly the top teams; India still an unknown quantity - done reasonably well in SA, but with new players, will take a series or two to establish; so that leaves, in my opinion, four teams floating in the next rung - SL, Eng, NZ and Pak in the order of their strengths atm. NZ, i think have a good chance of getting into the 1st tier in the proposed system.

  • VisBal on January 18, 2014, 5:29 GMT

    Martin is right. One of the main reasons why the teams at the bottom are unable to rise is because of the funding situation. As everyone knows, there are now only 3 boards that run a surplus. CSA scrapes by on a year by year basis. If boards do not have sufficient income, they cannot invest in growth at the grassroots. The switch to a 2-tier system where 3 boards are locked in Tier-1 (irrespective of on-field performance) will only lead the bottom 4 to stagnate and wither away. They now lose the marketing opportunity that comes with playing a Big Team, and their share of ICC money will also go down. That will hurt development and continue poor on-field performances. The top four and bottom four will be frozen in place. Only 5 and 6 will swap every year or two.

  • kidiman on January 18, 2014, 5:14 GMT

    I'm Indian but I agree with Martin Crowe that two Tier system is not good for cricket. Test cricket should be encouraged between member nations like Scoland, Holland, Irleand, Afghanistan and Kenya on time period basis. If any member team comes top at the end of the time period than that should be allowed to play test cricket with other top test playing nation for eg if Ireland tops the list then it should play S Africa would ranked number one in test cricket ratings. They would exposed to playing against top quality team and also spectators would love to watch new team playing test cricket against the best team in the world. So it would encourage spectators to the ground also. Also I would like member team should play against domestic team of top test cricket team like playing aganist domestic teams of India, England, Australia, SA, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and West Indies. The domestic teams of test playing should play in against member teams home ground also. It would also garner expe

  • on January 25, 2014, 20:52 GMT

    More natios playing tests will improve the variety of opponents for teams even those at the bottom can schedule matches with more teams. We need Ireland Afghanistan and USA to fall in one day. Cricket World cup should host 20 teams 4 groups of 5 and allow developing teams to play. Kenya, Netherlands etc.

  • on January 25, 2014, 20:49 GMT

    problem with relegation and promotion system in cricket is the timeit is played over. Any team promoted will simply be knocked down in 2 years. teams need at least 10 years to build up knowledge skills and development structures. Sri Lanka took a while and so did Bangladesh. Ireland and Afghanistan should be promoted to test flight cricket. Lower teams and top teams must be scheduled to play each other and to fit smaller teams in between big tours.

  • on January 22, 2014, 18:47 GMT

    may be it should look like this 10 upper tier (test) 10 lower tier(first class) a) with all upper tier teams subject to relegation to first class in case of being no 9 and 10 after every two years b) with all lower tier teams subject to promotion to test arena in case of being no 1 and 2 after every two years

  • Insult_2_Injury on January 22, 2014, 3:23 GMT

    With national sporting competitions there are equalisation measures implemented when inequity appears between teams. From a hard headed point of view the terminally weak get the flick and the weaker get measurable assistance and funding to implement improvement. A more equal TOTAL competition is a more profitable competition.

    All talk of tiers, etc is an indictment on the ICC. Of course all the 'interested parties' ignore the elephant in the room - Indian led ICC happy for revenue to centre on Indian cricket. It's time for a coup and restructure of the ICC to ensure distribution for competitive members. What's the point of saying here's membership - good luck paying for a 250 day international travel schedule and building stadia adequate for our 'product'! Get the game's revenue working for the game to strengthen the struggling countries and forget about divisive tiers.

  • on January 21, 2014, 15:15 GMT

    We already have an unofficial 2 tier system. Some teams hardly play each other while most series are 2 tests or at best 3 tests.

  • on January 21, 2014, 8:37 GMT

    Agree with Martin Crowe here; I think if the objective is to encourage other nations to get into test status, it is good to have a system of including them as the second tier, but for sure, the current 8 teams should not be relegated from the first level.

  • Almightys on January 21, 2014, 8:35 GMT

    Why to be wary when there is chance of coming back, suppose if NZ is relegated then they have very good chance to be on top in the tier2 and again come back to tier1 in next season. Here Season I consider is 1 year season, where each team will play max 2 tests at home and away basis and each test should be of 4 days only. Everything will improve here. I know its bad for West Indies but if they top in 2nd tier then they have chance to play in tier 1

  • timmyw on January 20, 2014, 22:10 GMT

    I like the idea of a two tiered system so long as all the teams still play each other. For example, you have 9 teams You have 3 groups of three. Have one top team in each group say England, Pakistan, Zim. Then you have Aus, Sr Lanka, Ban, then SA, India, NZ. Just as an EXAMPLE. Try and make all the groups balanced that way you mix the teams from different tiers of power. That way all the lower ranked teams get to play higher ranked ones and learn from the experience. Then the teams with the most points from each group play each other in a three test series. You can't segregate the groups at all. Otherwise cricket will die in those nations in the second tier. I swear if ICC consolidate power with SA, IND and ENG and a two tiered segregated system of tests comes in I will quit watching and supporting this game. Hell lets include USA, Ireland and China. Why not?

  • CricketMaan on January 20, 2014, 15:23 GMT

    2 Tier will make sure we don't have anymore 'FAREWELL' series and even if one is arranged, it will be evenly contensted. The recent two farewell series for two greats was nothing but a mockery of Test cricket. Two unequal sides dominated by the Big brother on both occassions. I'm all for 2 tier coz SERIOUSLY how many watch or how many such games generate revenue!! Doesn't football do that? or even the successful EPL? Lets keep sentiments and emotions aside, a Two tier can easily be adjusted every year or every two years. Having said that I dismiss the thought of no relegation for Ind, Eng and Aus..for that right should be solely only with BCCI

  • Maidenz on January 20, 2014, 5:20 GMT

    Martin Crowe lamenting over the destruction of test cricket and highlighting it as something brought about by the introduction of T20 is close to the definition of irony - he all but invented T20 cricket (Cricket Max anyone?).

    In saying that, I guess he can be forgiven - Einstein wasn't the biggest fan of the A-Bomb either.

    What I think this proves is that Crowe is somewhat of a visionary and a cricket scholar. Perhaps we should all listen to him on this one too?

    The Test Cricket Open Championship? Yes please!

  • Blakey on January 20, 2014, 2:31 GMT

    This proposal is about keeping test cricket alive and financial. The only countries generating the crowds and, therefore, finances are Australia, England ans India. These teams need to be kept in the top tier to ensure money keeps coming in to support the developing nations. If any one of these teams were relegated, the funding would dry up instantly

  • Choudury on January 20, 2014, 2:25 GMT

    So essentially Martin is saying that 2 tier is OK if NZ is in 1st tier, because they have been a test playing nation for a long time.

    Forget meritocracy, NZ has to be in 1st tier, not with BD and ZIM. Don't take into account the last couple of series against Bangladesh in count, NZ is still better than BD

    Going by Martin's logic, the world cup final should always be Aus vs Eng. Don't matter if they lose every game in the WC, since they have been playing the longest and started cricket, they deserve to always be the finalists.

    Wake up Martin, NZ is a good team, but it's time to consider BD in the same league as NZ at least.

  • on January 20, 2014, 1:57 GMT

    Countries like India are slowly killing the game. Is this the only way that the three boards in question can attempt to dethrone South Africa? Surely the idea is to make cricket a global product rather than move back into the dark ages where Australia only played England etc.

  • gibbons on January 20, 2014, 1:20 GMT

    @Azlan Khan - having lots of money doesn't make you the super power of cricket, it just means that you have lots of money that you can throw at players to make them come and play in your competitions. Kerry Packer wasn't the superpower of cricket in the late 70s, he just owned a TV station and had a stack of capital, so he made a bit of a splash - and the IPL hasn't really even done that. The IPL may affect the international schedules of teams because all their players go to India for a couple of months, but I can tell you that's not where the eyes of the world are turned during the IPL. The games aren't even telecast where I live, and nobody is talking about it. It's a localised phenomenon - and for that reason, until it starts running for 11 months a year, won't capture cricket.

    The integrity of the ICC, however, is apparently well and truly for sale...

  • Cricket_theBestGame on January 20, 2014, 1:07 GMT

    agreed with crowe here. with only 8 teams, having 4 relegated what would be the point other to ensure the weakest is completely done away. eng has shown in this ashes series that it belongs to the 2nd tier. does it mean they should be shifted there? or the real question is if under this new system will eng or aus ever go over the 2nd tier if they have few bad years??

    @kidiman - agree with you. if non test playing nation like Ireland (the only associate at the moment worthy of test ranking above bangladesh) do well, they should play No 1 test team at their HOME ground. that will ensure crowds turn up to watch them take on the best!

  • starsgap1986 on January 20, 2014, 1:03 GMT

    What I think is two tier system won't work because for example a current team which has a very strong and fit players and doing very well at the moment won't have the same players or same players with not in good form or retire. I think it's time to change the test format. Five days. First innings both sides play 135 overs. This should be done in 3 days. Then the rest of the second innings can continue on the next two days with no limit.

  • on January 20, 2014, 0:38 GMT

    They 2 tier issue is ridiculous, the teams which are at the top now were doormats not too long ago and no one proposed relegating them to another level. Crowe is right, cricket owes teams like NZ and WI more respect. To India and others who might be driving this idea, remember this, dominance is cyclical your teams will fall on hard times sooner rather than later. See how you feel when the shoe is on your feet.

  • 2.14istherunrate on January 20, 2014, 0:37 GMT

    As things become clear this idea of a two tier system is revealed as EVIL. I cannot think of a more sterile way to proceed than what is at present being suggested for it reduces everything to what India want really as it seems England and Austalia are following the downward path to fool's gold and the devil's rewards. ( I am not by the way religious.) To live in a world where one's own country only plays half of the teams is unthinkable and as they are proposing that three teams can never be relegated means that so many games are just exhibition games. Goodbye cricket. It was a lot fun but I fear the end has come.

  • on January 20, 2014, 0:31 GMT

    Keep writing MDC. You eloquently argue the stupidity of this ridiculous proposal. The cricketing pride and tradition of many countries needs to be fostered and respected. This proposal does nothing but under value those countries who will be sent into the wilderness should this proposal be considered and approved. Hit it for six…out of the international arena.

  • kensohatter on January 19, 2014, 22:28 GMT

    As great as this two tier system would be for the top 4 test playing countries Mr Crowe makes a very valid point. Implementing it would essentially kill off cricket in NZ, WI and to a lesser extent Pakistan. Hes right its not fair to deny these teams access to the games elite. It would hurt the game in their countries. Lets just go by the test rankings and at a given time have a test series of the top 2 nations for the mace

  • on January 19, 2014, 22:17 GMT

    I dont think this system will sustain that long. As india will loose match after match against these team and they will change again.

  • jaypaki on January 19, 2014, 21:49 GMT

    This is just a load of hogwash, 1. the fact that there is no mention of Pak anywhere in the article lays claim to how marginalised this team has become 1stly, stripped of its ability to play any home games, 2ndly completely ignored in respect to the IPL (with no one even raising eyebrows at the sheer discrimination of its players getting the cold shoulder), 3rdly being absolutely ignored by major test playing nations (the likes of Australia/ENG/Ind having not played a series with them in over 4 yrs) ..FTP.. hogwash!!, 4thly NZ & WI ... Mr Crowe NZ has pretty much always been a second tier team ever since I started watching cricket over the last 30 years?? ... What the hell are you guys doing about this marginalisation taking place of the Paki team ... or are all the BCCI Cronies, the ECB Tailwaggers and Jump on the Bandwagon Ozzies all in this together ... it sure seems like something fishy's goin on .. well your loss .. play amongst yourselves you'll just lose about 200Mln viewers!

  • on January 19, 2014, 21:48 GMT

    @martin Crow, how can you forget about pakistan, who have third highiest win/loss ratio, they second after Eng/Aus, also India at number 7. Pakistan and South Africa have same ratio of win/loss ratio, very disappointed of not highlighting paksitan stance,

  • luggang on January 19, 2014, 21:31 GMT

    Test cricket is dying, a shame but you can't deny there's little public support for the 5 day game except in england and australia and judging from the youngsters i coach in the former it will begin to die out in those countries soon.

  • Sharo0nGill on January 19, 2014, 21:17 GMT

    One a personal note i think it will be dismal to introduce such a class-system in the sport which is known for its grace, the all essential Test Cricket.India has not won an away Test since becoming the world champs. Then why all the phlegm is being thrown on the weaker sides, and not to be emotional it will be harmful for the sport as well with already so many two-tests series being played, it can be sighted that the 2nd tier teams will become inclined to play more of the limited overs cricket. I am a huge fan of Australian Cricket but if this class-system has any potential of being realised, then it calls for a mutiny against the first-tier teams..and the ICC. Just give it a thought all you brilliant brains who are approving of this rash idea.

  • ygkd on January 19, 2014, 21:13 GMT

    I don't think any test-playing nation should have to play "associates". So let's stop calling them "associates", as distinct from "full members". They are terms loaded with politics. They are national teams. A two-tier test system would simply add another layer of unhelpful terms with which to fan prejudice. Everyone understands there will be differences in ability, just as there is in FIFA or the Olympics. We can't homogenise cricket. This proposal will narrow the focus and shrink the game when we should be celebrating diversity and spreading the game instead. What would be wrong with a proposal to encourage new cricket markets in Nepal and North America for example? Can we not imagine an Indian/Nepali rivalry? Or one involving India and the USA (with a large Indian expat base)? And what happens to India/Pakistan? There are too many poor potential outcomes for this proposal to see the light of day. Crowe may appear to be driven only by national considerations, but he is still correct.

  • InsideHedge on January 19, 2014, 20:54 GMT

    Martin Crowe has always been an outside the box thinker so I respect his views and his obvious emotional plea.

    There are pros and cons with a 2 tier system. When they introduced a 2 tier system in English county cricket, I along with the majority welcomed it. Looking at it now, I dislike it immensely. As a fan, you don't get to see all the teams, players' performances are deemed a lower quality if they re achieved in the 2nd tier.

    However, unless you have a promotion/relegation system, seasons meander around the 3/4 mark. Players go thru the motions, boring fare is served up for the fans.

    I'm not sure of a good solution. In an ideal world, there would be just one tier. But cricket is incredibly elite, there are just eight Test playing nations and the majority of Tests see embarrassing crowds. Just witness the current Pak-SL series: there are more players and staff in the ground.

    Something needs to be done for the health of the game.

  • Batmanian on January 19, 2014, 20:46 GMT

    NZ and WI don't do themselves any favours meddling with tradition by scheduling matches in all kinds of little venues. I know TV revenue is the big thing, but crowds matter. Freestyle distribution of Tests barely works for populous and homogeneously turny India, and is a disappointment in England. Australia puts the minnows in the tropics out of season, which makes sense, and generally observes the order of precedence - G, SCG, Adelaide, Gabba, WACA, Bellerive - in plotting important series. It preserves a variety of conditions and a cycle of interest and comparability over the years, as well as the gravitas of the Test concept.

  • dedel on January 19, 2014, 20:36 GMT

    Ace article Martin, and if there are 2 tiers, what would the second tier be called - Tests or First Class. The ICC seems hell bent on destroying Test cricket or at least the aura that surrounds it. Bunch of muppets that are ruining the game i used to love.

  • on January 19, 2014, 20:01 GMT

    may aswell just get rid of test matches, and have more ODI & T20's... thats all the fans are interested in these days anyway.

  • on January 19, 2014, 18:49 GMT

    Every team faces up's and down's. Pommies were awful in 90's and so were Aussies in early 80's. Thought of Implementing the idea of two-tier system on short notice is really a bad idea. Instead, I would suggest to consider the performances of teams in next 3 years and then implement this idea of two-tier system.

  • anton1234 on January 19, 2014, 18:42 GMT

    Two tier competition played over two years is absolutely the way to go. You can't make it any longer as it would then have the effect losing intensity. Top tier made up of 8 teams and the second tier 4, with the possibility of being expanded to 5.

    The second tier would initially have Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Holland, Afghanistan (Afghanistan playing their home matches in the UAE). You could have 1 team promote, 1 relegate, or if you really wanted to spice things up 2 up, 2 down. Since it will be 2-year cycle it's not the end of the world for any team relegating. I think you have to accept test crowds will stay as the they are or go down a bot more because people don't have time to be at the ground 5 days anymore. Only marquee series like the Ashes will be sold out.

  • on January 19, 2014, 17:53 GMT

    One of my friend has commented, if England start their own t20,is that a joke, or you are serious? They have tried, but they don't like it. It's the nation game of UK, and it's UK who started cricket. They are the ones who call it the so called gentleman's game. They deep inside don't want to end test cricket. They ECB has repeatedly requested India to change the time of the IPL, as it conflicts with their season of cricket. We should admit, India is the super power of cricket. England has lost control of it and now they are trying to get back it's control, either individually or by sharing. That's how it seems to me

  • on January 19, 2014, 17:13 GMT

    Well spoken Martin. Cricket should provide a growing global product not remain an insular game within a financial elite.

  • on January 19, 2014, 17:07 GMT

    Well spoken Martin. Cricket should provide a growing global product not remain an insular game within a financial elite.

  • 6sir on January 19, 2014, 16:43 GMT

    This two tier system if implemented will be final nail in test crickets's coffin. This is all about money and there is no money in this format. Slowly and steadily, this format will disappear, this proposal will just hasten this process.

  • VisBal on January 19, 2014, 15:53 GMT

    @ LewisDuckworth: The model as proposed (by ICC) says that Australia, England, and India will always be in Tier-1. That means the two other members of Tier-1 will necessarily be relegated after 3 years. The only unknown is who will be promoted at that point. This will give the Big Three varied competition every three years.

  • Sauron_Of_Middle_Earth on January 19, 2014, 15:16 GMT

    Crowe is right. What gives three countries the power to decide what's good for World Cricket? Their cash contribution to the ICC budget? By the same argument the US should ask for control of the United Nations as they fund most UN missions. Will that create an outcry? How can administrators cater to whims of broadcasters, when the latter clearly care more about revenue generation than the game itself? And worst of all - the ranking system which is supposedly the basis for this 'two-tier' classification is a sham to anyone with a decent knowledge in Statistics. (No offence to SA, who are clearly the best by a fair margin). How can Ind stay at No.2 after having played only a 2 test series in SA, while Eng and Aus play 5 Test series and 4 Test series between Ind and Eng & Aus. The others don't even bother with test cricket. Make the damn FTP binding on all members (unless there are emergencies like the one in Pak) and force 3 test series. Cut down on excess the ODIs and T20s to make space

  • on January 19, 2014, 14:42 GMT

    This is quite disheartening and in my opinion wrong. As Martin rightly points out. We have to be very careful as a people. Post 2007 (Great Recession) was caused by many factors, deregulation, easy credit and government intervention in financial markets. Another factor some pundits speak of is 'greed.' We have become more focused in revenue as opposed to the longevity of the game and what it means to all member countries irregardless of their rank. This will certainly be the death of test cricket or even domestic four day tournaments in these second-tier countries. India currently refuses to use the DRS system. What happens when England refuse to be apart of a system recommended by India? What happens when England start their own T20 league like the Big Bash and IPL. I see alot of conflicts coming from these three top teams in the future because once greed steps in there is always some fallout. I hope cricket is the overall winner, again I support Martin's views

  • on January 19, 2014, 14:41 GMT

    Martin is 100% correct. What is ranking system every team has to face bad days. no matter three rich boards of international cricket are playing tricks to extract more from this gentleman's game thereby putting other sides in doll drums. how can a side be judged India fails on tracks outside their country same is the case with England and SA while as CA are just getting momentum but yet to prove its mantle on Sub continent pitches. cricket will go no where if the financial stability across all the boards is not maintained. ICC is responsible for degrading Zimbabwean Cricket. personal goals and gains least matters when games credibility is at stake.

  • on January 19, 2014, 14:31 GMT

    One has to agree with Marty, there is no other option for a cricket game's follower. It is such a ridiculous thing to come across, 2 tier system, game of cricket needs more countries to play.

  • on January 19, 2014, 14:27 GMT

    Next few years. T20 is the future, I feel 50 over matches will also be reduced to 40 or 35. It seems, cricket no more gentleman's game. It's more of lucrative business of money. 1.2 billion people in one nation don't need support from anyone, specially where cricket is treated as a religion. So in my view, bye bye to test cricket in the next ten years.

    Players like Martin Crowe and the old players, the pioneers of the cricket, they will try to save test cricket as much as they can. But I feel it's a gone thing. Soon it will be history and when these guys are no more, no one will even talk about test cricket.

    My best wishes and prayers

  • on January 19, 2014, 14:22 GMT

    Agree with the writer. He was a great cricketer, one of my heart favorites. But that's how it's going to be. Do you really think, they care about cricket? Until 1992,cricket was a gentleman's game. After that money got into it. It's no more a gentleman game. Money matters. We being humans are greedy. So we can't deny the basic instincts of human nature. No matter how much we cry and shout. That's the future of cricket. I don't think other boards can do anything about it. They are dependant on them. Specially IPL has changed the shape of cricket. Every cricketer from the other nation will fall prey to the money of IPL. I think it's going to happen no matter what we do or say. But in my opinion, it's the ECB, the main culprit behind this is the ECB, they can't see BBCI controlling the matters of international cricket and being the boss. They had done it in the past and now they are trying to get that position by using the shoulder of BBCI.

    I Think test cricket will be gone in the......

  • on January 19, 2014, 13:10 GMT

    what is the difference between WI and England? Somehow WI gained some respect in NZ. What gonna happen now. England tour to India. India winning by 5-0. India tour to Australia, Aussies winning by 5-0. England tour to Aus, and again Australia winning by 5-0.and when Ausstralia or India will go to England they will lose to 0-5.

  • Cricket_Man on January 19, 2014, 13:01 GMT

    I completely agree with each and every word of Mr. Crowe. The system of relegation would be a complete flop. However, Test Cricket needs renovation and The Test Cricket Open is the way to go about it. Get rid of meaningless tours and start The Test Cricket Open based on the same principles highlighted by Mr. Crowe. Cricket should not be anybody's monopoly.

  • GermanPlayer on January 19, 2014, 12:57 GMT

    All those supporting the two tier system, can you please answer these questions:

    1. The teams that get relegated to lower tier, how will they be able to improve their game? By playing against even weaker nations? Suppose NZ and WI do get relegated, do you really expect them to work on their game and then come back after two years and beat the likes of SA and Aus? Isn't this just pushing them into doom?

    2. If relegation is so good, why are India, Aus and Eng exempted?If you make a top tier of 6 and exempt 3 of them from relegation, who re you fooling?

  • priceless on January 19, 2014, 12:33 GMT

    Martin you correct but if cricket can't pay in your country then players must play for expenses only. Sad, but true. Its the same with us in RSA no spectators. Answer is change the method. I cannot imagine soccer without genuine league tables can you ??. No pools, no pick six or whatever. Top 8 should play ONE TEST HOME & AWAY over a two year period that counts for the TEST LEAGUE. This one test will be the points winner/loser not a host of NO SPECTATOR games The ODI's & T20's can form part of the ONE TEST TOUR for the spectators or otherwise. Try playing more than ONE TEST per annum per country will just not be possible. This ONE TEST is played over SIX days to ensure a result. If NO DOUBLE INNINGS RESULT then FIRST INNINGS POINTS ONLY. By only playing ONE TEST spectators will come, as this is the game that counts. Most spectators who go to ODI's & T20's go for the fun day out, day off work, entertain a client/girlfriend etc or just have a booze up. Apologies to those who abstain Ta

  • The_Wog on January 19, 2014, 11:57 GMT

    BCCI have been reading Animal Farm. After years of complaining when ENG and AUS had de facto control, they want to "evolve" to the same system with themselves as the animals who are "more equal than others." How long before the 3 "high revenue" countries become 2, then 1?

    Yes, relegation is absurd when there are really only 8 teams and then a big gap. Yes, NZ have earned the spot - if they put together a bad year and got relegated to play Afghanistan and NED, their cricket would die. There is nothing good about the suggestion, and Crowe is right to call it out.

  • on January 19, 2014, 11:13 GMT

    Have a two tier by all means, but don't be ridiculous enough to make the top tier only 4-6 countries...Cricket is the only sport where people seem to be happy that others DON'T get in on the act. NZ and WI have had a long tradition of test cricket, longer than India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka etc, and here they are being told that they're not good enough by a bunch of bureaucrats who have never played the game and don't even seem to like it. Rahul Dravid would do well to remember his time playing in New Zealand, if that is what he suggests.

    This is just throwing the baby out with the bathwater: after introducing Bangladesh and Zimbabwe to top level test cricket when they weren't ready a decade or so ago, now the ICC are trying to overcompensate by demolishing cricketing tradition. Of course, they seem only driven by greed and revenue now, so am sure there are ulterior motives. The ICC is going to destroy test cricket anyway at the rate they're going.

  • on January 19, 2014, 10:04 GMT

    What about a NZ Ranfurly Shield type concept Martin?

  • on January 19, 2014, 9:13 GMT

    "I don't include Bangladesh, with respect, as they haven't played enough, nor won enough since their introduction" - Guess you haven't followed your team when they played against Bangladesh... Right!

    Martin, you have always been one of my very favorite cricketer. Moreover, I really appreciate and align with your thoughts. But I am feeling pity over your recent cricketing knowledge

  • lee_man on January 19, 2014, 9:02 GMT

    Go NZ!!!! They just won the first ODI against India.

  • bouncer709 on January 19, 2014, 8:54 GMT

    these 3 teams should play world cup against each others, rest of the teams should combine to make their own cricket council and play tournaments.

  • DaisonGarvasis on January 19, 2014, 8:48 GMT

    Woww Martin! Well said. That calls for some respect. To add to what Martin said about NZ credentials, to see West Indies in the bottom tier is no good to the games History. Without the 70's and 80's when WI dominated the Cricketing world, the game's history wont be complete. To relegate them is to insult the game of cricket. They have to find a way to have the test championship. Relegating the traditional cricket playing teams is no good. There is no reason the associate nations cant play more cricket against Zim and Bangladesh. If there is a relegation zone it should be below the top 8 teams. A tournament between the relegation teams below top 8 to get two teams from them to the Test Championship could work. Anyway, has anyone thought about the home advantage? Will the play "home or away" be decided with a toss?? Or will there be "return leg" for every series?

  • on January 19, 2014, 7:28 GMT

    Mr. Crowe, why you don't accept the fact that once Bangladesh was not considered in ODI. However, they did bangla-wash twice aginst Newzeaaland at home. Can't you show your humbleness by saying thaqt BD one day could elevate itself to that level in test cricket if they are given more games to play against big teams.

  • superdomestique on January 19, 2014, 7:04 GMT

    @Andross, the argument around incentive to win is ridiculous. What test-cricketing nation plays to lose? If 7 & 8 were to be relegated, e.g.NZ&WI, then I guarantee that these 2 teams will be far superior that any in tier2. So how are NZ&WI to improve especially so when the only 2teams that may have been competitive have just been promoted? They don't. For the 2teams that are promoted, realistically they will only spend 1year in tier1 before being relegated again, @ which point NZ&WI will likely be promoted again (albeit fielding a weaker side than previously due to lack of competition). NZ would suffer hugely. Crowd & player would decline, $ would decline. How does this benefit the 1-6 in tier 1? It doesn't, they will be forever playing a marginalized 7-8 ranked team. Ideally, you want to grow the pool of tier 1 teams to as many as possibly by improving lower ranked teams. E.g. on this NZ-Ind tour, why not have NZ play 3 tests in this tour. 2 against Ind and 1 against Ireland for e.g?

  • Harold-I on January 19, 2014, 6:58 GMT

    I respect Crowe greatly as a player but this bit he wrote is rubbish. Tiers are accepted in most sports. Relegation and promotion are part of the sport that gives it the most interest. There are certainly huge problems with the proposal that cement India, England and Australia in the top tier, and I for one would like to see 2 tiers of 6 teams with the the 6th ranked team dropping a tier and the 7th ranked team rising every 12 months, with NO team exempt. NZ are currently ranked 8th, but there's only 6 points difference between them and SL in 6th place. As far as I'm concerned interest from the public comes when the matches MEAN something. A series between NZ and WI suddenly means a whole lot more if those points can push NZ up to top spot and mean promotion. As an additional bonus it would mean 2 more teams get to play (11th and 12th) and if they start out losing a whole lot of matches - that's how you learn.

  • lee_man on January 19, 2014, 5:45 GMT

    This is all just nonsense. Anybody with shred of common sense would realize that if WI and NZ were placed in tier 2, they would never rise to tier 1. Finance and population size are important factors in this whole thing.We can expect all the crowds to disappear from the WI and NZ stadiums, and also which TV network would pay top dollars to broadcast second tier matches? Tier 2 might be motivate the associates but it would be the death of cricket in NZ and WI. Maybe that is the goal of this seemingly nonsensical plan.

  • Selfishkar on January 19, 2014, 4:54 GMT

    New Zeland which has population of major metro in India won six medals in Olympics which is more than what Indian athletes could win in the last quarter century. Should India be relegated to tier-two Olympics only?

  • on January 19, 2014, 4:44 GMT

    The draft proposal also says that in a two tier system England, India, and South Africa cannot be relegated. Now how one sided is that!

  • Selfishkar on January 19, 2014, 3:49 GMT

    New Zeland which has population of major metro in India won six medals in Olympics which is more than what Indian athletes could win in the last quarter century. Should India be relegated to tier-two Olympics only?

  • on January 19, 2014, 3:31 GMT

    Fair point, but I don't agree with Martin's exclusion of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. After all, New Zealand endured a far worse introduction to test cricket than these 2. 45 matches without a single victory. Bottom line don't discard New Zealand and W Indies. Don't discard Bangladesh and Zimbabwe either.

  • on January 19, 2014, 3:29 GMT

    I would like to say that Boards like Ind, Aus and Eng are trying very hard to demolish and degrade the real test of cricket all around the world, initially they introduced T20 leagues to generate a whole lot money and now when they're done with it, they are trying to hide left out those test cricketing countries which caused humiliation to their status as test cricketing country i.e. white washes away home . I personally being a true lover of test cricket and test players like BC Lara, R Ponting, M Yousif, R Drivid, J Kallis is condemning this act from ICC . And I am requesting if anyone on this site from concerned body is reading these comments and all this stuff from all over the world then plz stand up and save the real cricket which is being humiliated and downgraded by those kinds of money maker decisions.

  • Andross on January 19, 2014, 3:25 GMT

    Totally disagree with this article. It is all backwards: as long as there is no incentive to play better cricket to stay in the top division, there is no reason for the teams at 6,7,8 to do so. True a championship would have done the same thing, but we must be realistic and say that Tests do not make a very good championship sport; it takes far too long. What IS in the best interest of the game is to encourage the associate nations to become more competitive, & there is no incentive for them to do that unless they have a chance of playing at the top level. With that in mind, either we need to have more than ten teams playing or we need to relegate some of the current teams. If you have 10 fulls playing with 2 associates, how silly would it be to relegate 1 of the associates if they were ranked say 3 & 5 in the 1st tier? The relegation system is the only way it can work. Although I do agree that AUS, IND, ENG should be subject to exactly the same process as the other full nations.

  • on January 19, 2014, 3:23 GMT

    Martin Crowe should be an official that can guide these others, he has more common sense than these other so called people who make dum decisions

  • ShortnStraight_To_Point on January 19, 2014, 3:12 GMT

    Emotional, patriotic but not very sound in logic. By assuming that it will be WI & NZ in tier two Martin silently acknowledges the fact that these two cant compete at the same level but yet he advocates to keep them in the same level because of there Past Glory. Now we understand his emotion behind this article. No Proud cricketers would want his country to be relegated to lower Tier but that's exactly the emotion that this Tier system would tap into. Once relegated, the whole cricketing community of that country Should rally around and work together for one Goal. The team in Tier1 will always be on guard. Thrill and excitement comes from cut throat competition. There is No place for domination in 80s or 12 year unbeaten record here. What counts is how good you really are NOW. Also i think when international cricketers of a country start choosing County over Country then there is something wrong in the System there. Better they get that sorted before claiming place on high table.

  • on January 19, 2014, 2:07 GMT

    Sorry but this seems like an article from New Zealander who is angry that NZ might be relegated to a second tier - thats all. NO TEST PLAYING NATION WANTS TO PLAY THE ASSOCIATES - primarily because a win against associates is meaningless (it won't even be a test after all) while a loss would be HUGE. There is just nothing to gain there and everything to lose. That's why Bang and Zim don't play associates as well (while the win will mean more to them than the top 8 nations, unfortunately the fear of losing is also MUCH MUCH HIGHER). The 2-tier system is a way to get Bang and Zim to play the associates by forcing NZ and WI to do so as well - and in time, based on performance, either other teams will improve or NZ and WI will come back to tier 1 with Bang and Zim left in tier 2 where they belong. And sport is about the current - not abt the history. As Mr. Crowe himself states, NZ and WI have not made tests a priority and thats THEIR fault - a 2-tier system is a way to force them to do it

  • Ozcricketwriter on January 19, 2014, 2:06 GMT

    While West Indies obviously had a period of great success, when did New Zealand? At their peak New Zealand were merely competitive, never dominant. New Zealand have been the worst test team since the introduction of tests. How are they propping up the others?

  • Happy_hamster on January 19, 2014, 2:01 GMT

    A league system is an interesting development and at this point merely an option. The exception from relegation for India, England and Australia is merely based on financial viability having one of those in the lower tier impacts massively on the remaining teams a bit like in the SPL at present with Rangers missing it has nothing to do with what is right or wrong and reflects how cricket is now a business more than a sport.

  • Sportsscientist on January 19, 2014, 1:42 GMT

    interesting discussion. I really appreciate Mr Crowe's defence of WI's legacy. As a British born cricket fan of Jamaican parentage, I have mixed views. i am old enough to remember Clive, Viv & Co...but I still feel a two-tier system may force the WICB to be less complacent. However I am glad for the test championship debate - it's needed to boost the game. how about 2 conferences/zones of 6 in stead of divisions??? just a thought

  • on January 19, 2014, 0:20 GMT

    Again Martin makes sense. Though why do we need a ranking system anyway? When I was young New Zealander going to watch my first test match it wasn't about rankings of teams it was about the aura of the individuals. Gavaskar, Lillee, Botham. We all knew they were special and if they had a bad day we had a chance to win. The ranking of their teams didn't come into it. Anyone is beatable on any given day. It's what makes sport great that on any given day anything can happen and it doesn't matter if a team is ranked 1 or 8. No two tier system please.

  • bullodee on January 19, 2014, 0:09 GMT

    All people promoting 2 tier might change their minds after the outcome of the series between NZ and India starts today. 155km balls flying round your heads is not the same as your flat knee high tracks in sub continent. Your arrogance will result in your embarrasement.

  • on January 18, 2014, 23:38 GMT

    Hegemonic role of three boards (CA, ECB and BCCI) will suppress the beauty of test cricket as well as also media rights of other boards because all of you know that these are going with extra funds. But, others are still going with financial problems. When the teams divided there will also much loss of smaller boards due to lack of play with top teams which are attracted by broadcasting media. So, these are sluggish strategies to knock down other boards and their cricket affairs.

  • lee_man on January 18, 2014, 23:30 GMT

    Martin Crowe is absolutely correct. As a West Indian fan I am so revolted by this ridiculous idea that I think we should just let the current elitist continue to play their game all by themselves. Then we shall see how 'relevant' test cricket or cricket on the whole will be. Martin is wrong when he said that NZ and West Indies have propped up test cricket, we have sustained it. West Indies is in one way or another part of the reason that these very teams enjoy their strong financial positions today. Their teams used to be beaten, pummeled, destroyed, annihilated by the West Indies on countless occasions. They couldn't even offer a shred of competition, but they were never cries to relegate anyone, because they always had the power and we kept their stadiums filled.So for me, let them go ahead with their folly and let's see how far it will get anyone.

  • McGorium on January 18, 2014, 23:07 GMT

    I see Martin Crowe take great offence at WI and NZ being relegated to division II, and at the same time, proposes or suggests that BD and Zim are division II (or III) test teams. It seems that Crowe isn't arguing principle, but degree; he is offended not at the fact that a line is drawn, but where that line was drawn. If the same 2-tier system were such that Zim and WI were included, I bet Crowe wouldn't be displeased. Crowe's argument is a specious one: WI and NZ are to be included in the upper tier not based on their performance, but their long history in the game. It's like arguing my son should be admitted to Oxford, because my family has a long history of studying there. Or that we come from the aristocracy, so even though our current qualifications or situation is that of commoners, we shouldn't be treated as such. What Crowe should be arguing is to open up test cricket to even more teams. To hell with the unhealthy obsession of protecting individual test records.

  • Greatest_Game on January 18, 2014, 23:05 GMT

    Big 4? What Big 4, Martin. We have just been told there are only the big 3, and that they can't be relegated anyway. How the landscape can change in a day or 2!

  • ShutTheGate on January 18, 2014, 22:37 GMT

    Why are tests in England, Australia and India the only countries where there are decent crowds at the game?

    You see footage from tests in other nations and it's embarrassing.

    Martin, I think that your quarter final, to semi final to final each year has merits but perhaps each country should also focus on having people turn up to the game to make it respectable. Allow kids in for free if you have to, it doesn't look good on tv if the teams are playing to an empty ground.

  • dinosaurus on January 18, 2014, 22:28 GMT

    @ dalboy,

    I never denied that NZ has been competitive. In fact I said that India needs to be more aware of the danger to them in the upcoming ODI series. I did take issue with Crowe's claim that NZ has been "supporting" Test cricket. Participate with distinction, yes, but NZ just can't provide the money to "support" other countries.

  • Busie1979 on January 18, 2014, 22:02 GMT

    There needs to be enough cross-over games between the best performed Tier 2 teams and the worst performed Tier 1 teams.

    Suppose there are 6 Tier 1 teams and 6 Tier 2 teams.

    The Tier 1 finalists and team finishing #3 automatically qualify for next years tournament.

    Teams finishing 4 to 6 in Tier 1 cross over to play the finalists and third placed in Tier 2 (ie. teams ranked 7 to 9 overall) for a chance to play top tier test cricket.

    Teams ranks 10 to 12 in Tier 2 should cross over to play the finalists and third placed in Tier 3 (and so on).

    That way, everyone gets a chance and Associates are not squeezed out. NZ and WI would get a chance to progress every year if they finish top 3 in Tier 2.

    Tiers 1 and 2 would be very stable under this set up and there would be very little movement because NZ and WI are not good enough at this stage, but will need to raise their game to belong in the top tier.

    There may still even be bilateral series between Tier 1 and 2 countries.

  • Hughesy83 on January 18, 2014, 21:56 GMT

    SrinR - India a clear 3 ahead of England? Really? The two beatings you received weren't enough? I'd have thought the 4-0 would have punctured that arrogance.

  • JoshFromJamRock on January 18, 2014, 21:37 GMT

    A 2-tier system won't be bad for cricket just as long as the Big Four are willing to accept relegation after a failed campaign. The accepting relegation part will definitely play on the egos of these countries' boards. As some have said, 12 teams would be ideal at the moment. SA, AUS, IND, ENG, SL and PAK should round of top 6 while NZ, WI, BD, ZIM, AFGH, and IRE make the 2nd 6. Probably for next 2 years all the teams should play each other in a specific way. The current 1st 6 ranked nations can playing among themselves 3 matches each while playing 2 matches each against the 2nd 6 (hopefully IRE and AFGH are given their due). Then the 2nd 6 can play 3 matches each among themselves. At the end of 2 years the teams would have performed accurately to their potential both home and away. Its complicated I know but something has got to be done, first it must begin by giving Test status to IRE and AFGH. With this, for their comfort, the Big 4 will have a two team cushion in case of the worst.

  • on January 18, 2014, 21:16 GMT

    Yes I agree with Martin Crowe The difference between world cricket and the English Premier League is that there is insufficient teams in world cricket to sustain a 2 tier test competition . A one day or 20/20 championship should be examined so every match outside a World Cup or champions trophy is relevant .

  • on January 18, 2014, 21:15 GMT

    What exactly are meaningless or meaningful tests? Can anyone consider India losing 9 of their last 10 overseas tests meaningful? or Austrailia losing 7 or their last 9 away test matches meaningful? For me India touring NZ for test matches is more meaningful than India losing 4-0 in a one sided contest in Aus or England. Apart from South Africa, all the other so called top teams have pathetic away record lately. If anyone want to reduce the meaningless days of cricket then ODIs or T20 should be reduced instead of corrupting the true form of cricket i.e. Test matches.

  • izzidole on January 18, 2014, 21:00 GMT

    Teams that have been lagging far behind for far too long will be have to perform or suffer the consequences. At the moment there seem to be three groups in this list of countries playing test cricket which is dominated by South Africa, India, Australia and England. While the other group is made up of Sri Lanka, Pakistan and New Zealand while languishing right at the bottom is West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. At present all the activity seems to be centred around the top four countries in world cricket who play against each other quite frequently while the rest either cannot afford it or refuse to play against stronger teams for fear of losing which would relegate them to the bottom. A typical example is Pakistan which has cancelled the third test against Australia and instead replaced it with a limited overs match. Also Sri Lanka who managed to cancel their test series against South Africa and the West Indies and never played a test match for the whole year last year after Aust

  • rushilkadakia on January 18, 2014, 20:39 GMT

    I agree with Martin 100%. Ind vs NZ in NZ is always a challenge for any Indian team to win then on what basis will India qualify in Top 4. If England keep playing the way they are playing then they will be in the 2nd tier which means no Ashes. ICC wants to solve issues but comes up with wrong solutions. Two tier, my foot as aptly said.

  • on January 18, 2014, 20:31 GMT

    wonderfully written by Crowe. I admire the effort he put in and also the true anguish he felt at the decision of two tier test system. it actually makes no sense to relegate teams like NZ n WI. a test championship every couple of years is a very good idea. it will develop a sense of enthusiasm required for a test cricket. I've always been a fan of test cricket it somehow keeps me glued to the t.v. or cricinfo app for updates unlike t20s.. hope something good comes out of ICC.. which I think is again going in shambles

  • Vilander on January 18, 2014, 20:22 GMT

    two tier system is a fallacy, most Indians do not approve of it, we want to see the game grow..NZ,WI are such tiny nations but with such proud sporting tradition, we have encourage others like Ireland, Afg not stomp on NZ and WI..comeon.

  • Nampally on January 18, 2014, 20:04 GMT

    Martin, It is really a 3 Tier system- 1. Upper Class with Australia, England & India 2. Middle class with SA, NZ, WI, Pakistan , SL & BD 3. Lower class - All Minnows such as Ireland, Netherland, Afghanistan, USA, Canada, etc. There is no room for Class distinction in Modern World!The ICC is supposed to provide equal voices to all the Cricketing Nations. But it appears some are less equal than others. Muzzling the voices of Cricketing Nations on a selective basis is bad for the promotion of Cricket. Most of the Minnows Nations such as Canada & USA, the Cricket needs more funding to compete with Baseball, Basketball, Football & Hockey. These are rich countries. Cricket is just getting popular in Canada after years of campaigning. Cutting funds at this juncture will negate all the progress & set it back 50 years again. ICC is failing to promote Cricket, if more funds are NOT provided to Minnows than Major Nations. With current "Class Biased approach" , it is best to totally abolish ICC !

  • amumtaz on January 18, 2014, 19:53 GMT

    Pakistan Cricket team played a lot of First Class cricket against visiting teams like MCC and even travelled abroad during the 1950s and that too with considerable success. With the result, when they were awarded the TEST status, in their very first encounters abroad they were able to beat England in England in a Test, beat India in India in one Test and were not always easy to run over in any way.

    First class cricket is the backbone for Test Cricket and sadly, no first class matches are held for visiting teams to prepare before a TEST match.

    The modern world has forgotten the virtues of the old.

  • LewisDuckworth on January 18, 2014, 19:35 GMT

    @Visbal: No there wouldn't be. At the end of the three years, it doesn't matter who it is down the bottom of division 1, whether it be Australia, England, India or South Africa. If at the end of that time you're down the bottom, then you're relegated and in division 2 for at least 3 years. That's the only way it would work!

  • bigb69 on January 18, 2014, 19:24 GMT

    As soon as one of these drop out of the top 4, particularly India and it's going to take period of years to get back in, lets see how keen they are on that system. I can't see them allowing that to happen. They can't risk promotion relegation ! If you not playing the top teams how do you get ranking points to move into the top 4 ? If they make it almost impossible to get into the top division, if one of those teams drop out then it could be years of heartache having to beat the top team outright on their own soil ? That is just not going to be allowed to happen. This idea is floored from the start

  • bigb69 on January 18, 2014, 19:24 GMT

    As soon as one of these drop out of the top 4, particularly India and it's going to take period of years to get back in, lets see how keen they are on that system. I can't see them allowing that to happen. They can't risk promotion relegation ! If you not playing the top teams how do you get ranking points to move into the top 4 ? If they make it almost impossible to get into the top division, if one of those teams drop out then it could be years of heartache having to beat the top team outright on their own soil ? That is just not going to be allowed to happen. This idea is floored from the start

  • on January 18, 2014, 19:14 GMT

    I'm an Aussie and I totally agree with Martin Crowe here.

  • on January 18, 2014, 19:13 GMT

    I have no idea why ICC is behaving like they don't care about another nations. I am fine with their two-tier system (though i dont support it) but the one thing they forget is all three stelwarts may someday be relegated. They might not do anything if england or australia gets relegated. But if India gets relegated, they will probably change the rule again. This is just a short-sightedness of ICC. Furthermore, the best way to save test cricket for that matter, according to me, is to have a four year test league which culminates to a test championship between the top four teams for a semi-final and final. During that period all test teams will play both home and away for a minimum of 3 tests and max of 5 tests. Winning series on different scoreline gives teams bonus points. Like a 5-0 or 3-0 win will give teams more bonus points. And for revenues you can do it like salesman. The percentage of revenue you bring will be the same of the percentage of net profit you get. Make it simple.

  • aa61761 on January 18, 2014, 19:01 GMT

    2 tier system is utter nonsense. ICC revenues does not come from only three boards. No one other then Indians and Australians watch India Vs Australia game, and same is true for all other teams. As far as FTP is concern it is nonsense, only bilateral series makes sense. The so called "BIG 3" are trying to create monopoly over the game. All other boards should show some courage and reject this stupid idea. Instead of this "BIG 3" idea, it will be better for Cricket to create two seperate bodies like boxing, the "BIG 3" can play with each other and rest of the world can play in a completely seperate setup. Cricket can survive without these "BIG 3".

  • on January 18, 2014, 18:36 GMT

    Martin is right. I would also say that this is a bone headed decision commercially. It is not just a 2 tier system but an unfair oligarchy. I don't see how you increase revenue by making an already tiny sports even tinier.

  • AnshulP on January 18, 2014, 17:48 GMT

    Trying to provide a bit of perspective : http://www.espncricinfo.com/ranji-trophy-2013-14/content/story/710591.html - this story about the J&K team, being promoted to play the elite division next year - should possibly allay the fears Mr Crowe has voiced. If the structure of the proposed tiers is similar to the Ranji trophy, this could possibly work out well. Agreed, the ICC has to nurture the smaller centres - but India's success cannot just be attributed to TV rights and the popularity of the game here - it was when they started doing well that the people got inspired. Tomorrow if India go back to the pre eighties era, I am sure the stands won't be full. Let the NZ and WI and Bangladesh players play county, T20, BBL- whatever enhances and develops their skills and makes them good enough to compete at international level (just like the J&K team has done) and they will reap the rewards. For once, Mr Crowe, I choose to differ !

  • CricketChat on January 18, 2014, 17:12 GMT

    2-Tier model ensures that you need to work hard to maintain your elite status once you get there. I feel the bottom 4 test nations are better off playing the top associate teams rather than top 5 test teams. It's just life. Sport is no different.

  • on January 18, 2014, 16:57 GMT

    Instead of encouraging the expansion of Cricket in the other countries . What this system is going to do is to contract the expansion. How can you be exposed to good quality playing teams if you are not actually playing against these teams. The fact that international players are involved in cricket in USA is a good thing,.But the USA will sometime need to clash with stronger teams. Relegating one of the greatest team (West Indies) to second class does nothing to improve cricket as a whole. What is need is more money to be spent in training and enhancing the sports. The ICC should focus on helping those teams that are having problems in producing quality players. There is a lot that the ICC can do the enhance cricket. Or else they will be the one to limit the sport development.

  • on January 18, 2014, 16:55 GMT

    i agree with two tier system with 6 teams in each group . If all play equal test matches annually . If all get equal points beating teams home and away . if all teams are prone to go to tier 2 from tier one on their 2 year performance . like if at the end of 2 year period india and eng are 5th and 6th ranked teams they should go to tier 2 for next 2 years irrespective of their financial GIANT status . if that is the case i am supportive of two tier system . 12 teams should play test cricket you have to include ireland and afghanistan to make it 12 . if that is nt the case if aus ind and eng will remain in tier 1 then it is pointless .

  • dabbadubba on January 18, 2014, 16:55 GMT

    dont worry martin, this will fuel the second division teams to play exceptionally well and claim a spot in the top division.. no need to look for history here, as it has nothing to do with the issue.. This is just to prevent the boring series like the ind-wi which was played recently... if NZ does well, they will automatically rise to the top division, as of now you have to agree, that they are not top class.

  • creebo777 on January 18, 2014, 16:47 GMT

    Why cant there be two groups of four teams playing each other away and home in a period of a year,two top teams from each group play each other in a final but thats like 14 games in year.. A bit too much

  • rajithwijepura on January 18, 2014, 16:42 GMT

    if the proposed system somehow get approved, I'm 100% sure after another 20-25 years cricket will be only seen on youtube videos and every person who have seen this game will cursed IND,ENG and AUS for doing this.

  • Imran-Afzal on January 18, 2014, 16:22 GMT

    Totally Agreed with Martin Crowe !!!! actually the two tier system is only for sake of money. The top four teams will play more matches with each other instead of lower ranked teams and in return more money. So its all because of Money making ...no one is interested in development of test cricket ...its juts a Joke ....!!!!

  • on January 18, 2014, 15:56 GMT

    I have great respect for Martin Crowe. He is spot on here again. This new proposed system is not even good for India itself. When India has to visit only Australia, England and RSA , they will get similar hammering as they have for the last 02-03 years. 0-4 to England , 0-4 to Australia and recent hammering from RSA are few examples from recent history.

  • Robster1 on January 18, 2014, 15:50 GMT

    A two tier system is a very good idea indeed but it absolutely must include promotion and relegation. Without this it is quite pointless. 3 divisions of 6 teams with one up, one down makes most sense and would instantly inject purpose and context into every test match. And makes the tests an annual affair with all playing all one time home and away so test matches for each country. Not rocket science - and it would be the making of modern test cricket.

  • TRexGotPhD on January 18, 2014, 15:47 GMT

    I agree with Martin Crowe. The top 8 teams deserve to play with each other. For me one major criteria of a top team top 8) is the whether they have produced a number of cricketing greats - and have the potential to do so or not. Clearly WI has produced more number of cricketing greats than any other team in history - the best bowlers, batsmen and all-rounders ever to grace this game - in fact more greats than many current test playing nations combined. NZ also has produced Richard Hadlee, in addition to outrageous talents like Shane Bond, Martin Crowe, Nathan Astle, Daniel Vettori and many others. Relegating these 2 teams to the backwaters will finish any chances of such talent to be showcased at the top level. Could we have seen Brian Lara if a significantly weakened WI were relegated to the 2nd tier or in the case of NZ, a Shane Bond? The teams outside of top 8 have *never* produced a true cricketing great, except Andy Flower from Zimbabwe.

  • Poholiyadda on January 18, 2014, 15:25 GMT

    Great article Martin, you are absolutely right. This tier system will definitely end test cricket. Present governing body of cricket and it's so called intelligent administrators never get satisfied with what they do. They have made so many changes to the game in the last decade or so, but seems like they never get satisfied after the implementation of those changes. (T20s, DRS, no runners, 3 power plays, super subs, pink balls, two new balls etc.) But this divisions of test cricket will be the most bizarre thing ever happened in the game's history for sure.

  • johnathonjosephs on January 18, 2014, 15:23 GMT

    25 years ago, the very thought of putting West Indies in the bottom of a 2 Tier System was a joke.... Today, they probably would be under that category. Teams periodically go through slumps, and that is common with sports. People today who are proposing a 2 Tier Cricket system are only thinking temporarily. Australia, India, England, and South Africa won't be the Top 4 nations forever (actually of these 4 teams, SA have been the most consistent and probably were in the Top 4 since the start). Australia had a horrible slump post 2008, India has an insanely bad away history, and England has been among the worst in the 90s.. I remember a time when Sri Lanka was in India and was ranked at #2 and fighting for 1st place (the series India first got ranked #1 in Test). The Tier system is not good and though you may be for it now (Aus, India, England fans), it may not work in your favor for the long run

  • mensan on January 18, 2014, 15:10 GMT

    2-tier system in just 10 teams??? truely insane idea. May seems ok if you have 40-50 countries playing test cricket but not OK for 10. We need to expand cricket, not limit it.

  • Cricket24 on January 18, 2014, 15:09 GMT

    If this tier system is put into place, Ireland will never see any players because they will most likely go to England to play against the top teams.

  • Natx on January 18, 2014, 15:09 GMT

    Actually 2-tier is not a bad idea, from commercial view. If anyone pays close attention, it's done to protect tests. Who in the world are you playing for if no one is there to watch in stadium? Is anyone tuning to the recent SL vs Pak tests and counting the number of spectators on the ground? Commercially, tests are not making value anymore. People don't have patience to sit for 5 days of cricket other than Eng and Aus. In India, a handful of spectators turn up only if the matches are against Eng or Aus. That is the fact. First, it is important for all the boards to sit down and come up with a plan to bring more people to ground. It could be evening cricket, blocking tv broadcast on host cities for tests, not hosting matches on smaller cities etc. whatever makes sense to bring more people and sponsors back to test. If it doesn't work, test matches are not going to survive as they are proving out on the last few years with more empty stadiums around the world, except for the ashes.

  • Principle on January 18, 2014, 14:59 GMT

    With cricket already an elitist sport I can't see how this two tiered system makes sense. With only 10 countries already playing tests how can it be feasible to further water down the competition. It seems to me that India have now succeeded in making cricket into a glorified caste system where only the chosen few are allowed to compete. As the present gatekeepers of the game it is their responsibility to see to it that the game is kept fair, clean and gentlemanly. Yes, I understand that in the past India was treated unfairly, but now they are behaving even worse than England and Australia did when they controlled the game. One can argue that where as Australia portrayed themselves as bullies on the field, the Indians are definitely bullies on it. At this point in time I strongly recommend the ICC rename themselves BCCI. I am now fully contented not to watch cricket anymore as it's now become the BCCI's club league and not a world sport. I am disgusted.

  • on January 18, 2014, 14:48 GMT

    We don't need a new test tournament. Let the present situation go on. Every 2 or 3 years move the bottom two teams to play in a test tournament with afg, neth, ken etc and the top two can qualify. Of course what is needed is that in an year every country must play the same number of tests. Award points. Rank the teams. Do away with bilateral ODIs and banish t20 s between countries. ODIs should always be a tri series with a minnow included. That's all is needed. Any other move to make money will kill test cricket and ODIs. Some people will grow rich but cricket will lose real fans due to lack of variety. The moment there is a diversion like soccer success for India, fans will move en masse. If the ICC is driven only by the big 3, cricket will become a big bore. We will in 10 yrs have only t20s. More nations will join in and the game will morph into a cinematic league thing. Greed for money will last a decade. Fans will move on. Cricket will die out.

  • chakay-pay-chaka on January 18, 2014, 14:39 GMT

    This proposal should get the response it deserves - a boycott by all the other test playing nations. The big 3 can then play by themselves and see how long they last on their own!! A breakaway council may actually progress the game rather than continue with the present farce that is the ICC

  • on January 18, 2014, 14:19 GMT

    I believe Dravid was exploring an idea rather than espousing one. Martin Crowe is damn right. The motives of the two tier system are questionable other than being for capitalist considerations. If the interest in Tests is to be sustained, a way has to be found out where the tests need to be played by test playing nations at neutral avenues like Canada, UAE & USA where the game is popular and beamed live back home. Testing conditions provide entertainment.

  • on January 18, 2014, 14:19 GMT

    Okay, Martin calm down. we know India is in the House. If it helps, We will have Indian bowlers playing in the lower half and only their few batsmen will be allowed to play in the upper half?

  • on January 18, 2014, 14:14 GMT

    keep bangladesh, zimbabwe, afghanistan, kenya, ireland and new zealand away from test cricket they are a disgrace!

  • PACERONE on January 18, 2014, 14:08 GMT

    Recently India and S.A played a 2 match series,what did that prove? Was this a money making scheme or practice for India?Ireland beat England in a tournament and can do so again,especially if their good players are not taken away by England.

  • S.Jagernath on January 18, 2014, 13:40 GMT

    A tier system in cricket will never make sense.It is nonsense & these plans should be abandoned.The West Indies & New Zealand are good teams,they struggle abroad,but they are still competitive at home.This tier system is a sinister plan to ruin our game!The MCC should be stepping in to protect the Spirit of the Game.Rahul Dravid believing it is a good idea is shocking,surely he should know better.The Spirit of the Game can do with The Wall on it's side.

  • shrastogi on January 18, 2014, 13:12 GMT

    I dont think a two tier system for tests is such a bad idea. We have seen domestically in England and in India that a two or three tier system improving things to the extant that in India a team from lowest rung has won the championship.In England the two tier system has definitely improved quality of the national side. We must keep emotions aside and playing is second tier shouldnt be looked at demotion. I think a system of five team each would make a good system out of 10. Presently lower teams are just happy to do well in ODIs and T20s without giving due importance to tests. This should change and a two tier system would lead us to quality with commercial interests of the game taken care of.

  • on January 18, 2014, 13:12 GMT

    very good idea for the treaty world's championship

  • shot274 on January 18, 2014, 13:09 GMT

    Martin Crowe is spot on. This however is nothing to do with logic or furthering the cause of cricket-its all financial. Revenue from cricket is mainly from the game played in India, England and Australia. It has nothing to do with quality or interest. So what was the interest in the recent Melbourne Test? The margin of victory for Australia? But the venue had record crowds.There is also marked fluctuation within a year in ICC rankings because most teams are lions at home and lambs abroad.So the concept of a two tier system is to maximise the viewing returns on teams with the highest revenues.Currently most neutrals are bored watching Aus v England!

  • on January 18, 2014, 13:03 GMT

    A new power structure? If any team deserves to be at bottom; it is india and will the to tier be applicable then ?

  • David_1946 on January 18, 2014, 12:41 GMT

    Has anybody thought about what the effect on players' test averages would be? Suppose teams like NZ, SL, WI were relegated to D2, which would mean that batsmen of the caliber of Sanga, Mahela, Taylor, Chanderpaul etc would be consistently facing bowlers from Kenya, Holland, Afghanistan etc, while players like Clarke, Cook, KP, Amla, AB deV, Kohli etc would no longer have the easier pickings from Bang or Zim. Hence the first group would probably have their averages inflated by 5-10 runs per dismissal, while the second group's averages would decline by a similar amount. Similar logic could be used for bowlers: players like Best or Southee could easily end up with superior career records to Steyn or Philander. For better or worse, that is --- I'm just thinking aloud. :)

  • on January 18, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    Martin , though I really appreciate your thoughts ...............but .................have you heard of a nation called Pakistan ...?.........same Pakistan who defeated N/Zealan twice in the semis of WC 92 and 99........but yes new ICC system my foot .

  • on January 18, 2014, 12:35 GMT

    It's not about abandoning a team. It's about giving chances to the teams like Ireland to play test cricket. And it will eventually expand cricket's barrier in the international arena.

  • yorkslanka on January 18, 2014, 11:51 GMT

    Posted by SrinR"India still an unknown quantity - done reasonably well in SA" -

    wow, you consider getting whitewashed in the ODI series and losing the test series (including almost losing the first test despite being in a HUGE winning position) a reasonable performance? i think you need higher standards, personally i would be disappointed if my team had these results...

  • on January 18, 2014, 11:51 GMT

    If a Test team has not been performing for a sustained period of time, eg WI, NZ , BAN and ZIM then why keep them getting hammered( with the slight exception of NZ) at Test level? Even Zimbabwe had a good team with the flower brothers and Ireland have chased down 360 in an ODI against England, yet Ireland are stuck in ODI ranks and Zimbabwe have lost their way. Why not put them in a completion to see where they are at with Test competitors?

  • on January 18, 2014, 11:28 GMT

    I personally don't think anything Martin writes here will happen, because his argument is logical. Why and how do the BCCI, ECB and ACB think you can grow a game by shrinking it? I'm worried because we will look back in 10 years time and realise this is when cricket died in my country.

  • VisBal on January 18, 2014, 11:23 GMT

    LewisDuckworth, there is a problem with your model. The two tier model has three members who CANNOT be relegated. That means the other two know they will be relegated irrespective of their performances.

  • on January 18, 2014, 10:48 GMT

    I think Marin Crowe is absolutely spot on when he says that a two-tier system will be unfair as far as New Zealand and the West Indies are concerned.New Zealand have got a pretty decent side and they almost beat England twice just over 10 months back.But for all those of you who feel India are being considered a top side just because of the finance factor I can only say you couldn't be more wrong in your assessment.While the English and Australian tours were debacles to say the least,India have generally been pretty consistent overseas over the last decade.And all Aussies who don't agree with me on this,let me tell you,your side was struggling to even win games,let alone win series just a few months back.Believe me,Australia have got some glaring deficiencies in their batting order and while the bowlers have done exceedingly well to sort of cover them up,if South Africa do prepare bouncy pitches for the Feb-March series, even scores of under 100 wouldn't surprise any of us.

  • on January 18, 2014, 10:25 GMT

    What would have happened if they had brought this in 10 years ago? We probably wouldnt have seen brendon mccullum as a cricketer, he would be playing rugby, where he would be able to test himself against the best in the world. How many furture stars may we miss out on seeing light up the first game of the IPL like B Mccullums 158(I bet that innings created a lot of interest in your newly formed IPL, and money too) And now you want to cast us down for good unless we can make you enough money? God I hope NZ smashes india 5 zip in the ODIs, a big ups yours from all of the smaller nations.

  • rafi.rashidur on January 18, 2014, 10:24 GMT

    @SrinR: You said making tours to westindies,bangladesh is meaningless. How come u say that because teams might go through a tough time. When India was not great, if teams restrain them from visiting India then they would never be in this place. So, u need to give opportunities to every team so that they can showcase their talents. As the teams will play they will gain confidence to do much better. India is still lion in their home ground and a cat in abroad. So why is it neccessary to play against a team who makes flat pitches and score 300++ runs in home pitch and finds it really difficult to score 180+ in South Africa or other places. So grow up from that mentality. Every one deserves a chance and this is how the overall quality of cricket will get enriched

  • on January 18, 2014, 10:19 GMT

    I fully agree. This is not the way to promote the game of Cricket. BCCI is amongst the three because of their money. We are going back to the days when England and Australia controlled Cricket. The only difference is India being included, not because of their Cricket but money. Let these countries do what they want the other nations should form their own rival organization.

  • on January 18, 2014, 10:18 GMT

    The rule goes that you dont fix something that isnt broken. Planning the contest Martin speaks of could very well do some justice to Test Cricket. Something in this 2 tier system just doesnt seem right.

  • VisBal on January 18, 2014, 10:08 GMT

    What will happen to statistics after the separation of tiers? Will they both be given equal weightage or will the stats also be separated. Then what of the data prior to the separation? And in any case, since it looks like Tier I is basically 3 countries, will they maintain separate books for Tier-I matches, Tier-II matches and matches between Tier-I and Tier-II countries?

  • on January 18, 2014, 10:07 GMT

    Crowe has nailed it.

    World cricket power-seaters, for crying out loud, have some loyalty to the rest of the core cricketing nations, like they've shown for a long time.

    It's a dangerous precedent to concentrate the control of international cricket on a select few on the basis that financial value is of utmost importance.

    India may be the largest money contributer to the current cricket landscape, but it's arguable that the role of the IPL along with the high-handedness and selfishness of BCCI have significantly undermined the state of the game globally.

  • dalboy12 on January 18, 2014, 9:56 GMT

    @Gavin Bruhn actually last time NZ played Aussie in a test series -- in Australia as well --- it was drawn 1 - 1. Since then they have also drawn at home with England, and managed to pull of a 1 - 0 defeat to SA in a 3 test series, something there is no shame in, given the strength in the current SA side. I think its a crying shame as Martin said that so many cricket fans in the world are so willing and quick to dump from the game (cos let's be real, this will kill test cricket in WI and NZ) teams that have brought Viv Richards, Curtly Ambrose, Malcolm Marshall, Richard Hadlee, Martin Crowe and Brian Lara (just to name a few) to the game.

  • on January 18, 2014, 9:48 GMT

    Cricket had a two tier system for years. The new proposal is just to make it three tier. Yes, there are Associate nations who play cricket. The rules which separates the teams of the two tiers, are back in principle to form the third, elite tier. If we need to get democracy in the system, we need to back them too. So, I agree with Martin Crowe that this tiers are bad for cricket. But I am not for the existing system also until we get something more meaningful than "Test status" vs "Associates" discrimination.

  • on January 18, 2014, 9:41 GMT

    Like the line "This is all becoming a playground where the bully boys decide the punishment. " Well done Martin.

  • on January 18, 2014, 9:37 GMT

    I agree with Mr.Martin Crowe, Two tier system, if not anything will destroy sanctity of the test cricket, its records and the history. & what will be the gain? Its like denying cricket lovers of lower graded nations to the batting of say Sachin or Ponting or the bowling of Steyn or Johnson. Where will the inspiration come from? Two tier system is ok for national tournament but certainly not for international test cricket where there is already existing separation in the form of test playing nation & non-test playing nations. the system will virtually deny occurance of a champion stuff performance from a player from low lying nation e.g. a courageous century from Chanderpaul against SA or a hostile match turning spell from someone like Roach. The effect of the system can be envisioned from the soccer scenario in India - though thats not the only reason. A singular brilliant performance from a lowly lying country against top country ignites the attraction of the game. No to 2 tier system

  • Vaughanographic on January 18, 2014, 9:27 GMT

    SrinR's comments about India being forced to go on "meaningless tours to the West Indies" amuse me because wasnt it the BCCI who arranged for the Windies to play in India for Tendulkar's final games? I am firmly against the two tier system - Martin Crowe has some excellent logic because if there was any team to go down it would be India during that frightful period where they got whitewashed in overseas tours time and time again (which wasnt that long ago either).

    If the ICC should do anything it should look to redress these pathetic two test match series blighting that game. They should set the minimum number of tests in a series to three and take control of situations like those in Pakistan and South Africa where the boards have turned 3 match test series into 2 match ones

  • ygkd on January 18, 2014, 9:23 GMT

    We often hear about boards not having sufficient income to invest much in the grass-roots. But is that their main goal? CA has an elite product or brand which it invests heavily in. Those who want to join in (the talented youth) must largely do it on their own, especially if they fall within the rural areas of the three most populous states. There isn't that much help trickling down. Therefore, I don't see how the world two-tier system will work, with much trickle-down there either. The top-heavy, elite-funded system that the BCCI, CA and the ECB have works for the way they market international cricket. The second tier will be out-of-sight and very much out-of-mind, just as young cricketers can be. Again much is said of the personal 10,000 hours required to make a pro cricketer, but in Aus you can add a personal AUD$10,000 for starters, then quadruple it, at the very least. You won't see assistance until you've almost made it. The two-tier system will probably work much the same way.

  • LewisDuckworth on January 18, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    I actually agree with the ICC and disagree with Crowe on this front.

    Depending on how it's done, the two tire system actually encourages countries like NZ & WI to improve to stay in the top tire and not fall into the bottom.

    The way I'd do it is Ireland & Afghanistan gain status and there's two divisions of 6 with NZ, WI, Bangladesh & Zimbabwe joining Ireland & Afghanistan in the bottom division initially.

    Over the course of three years you play a home & away test series against everyone in your division, one nation you can play a 5 test series against, the other 4 a three (this keeps the Ashes alive).

    At the end of the 3 year period, bottom two teams from DIV 1 are relegated and top 2 from DIV 2 promoted. This gives the teams in division 2 a chance to gain confidence for a few years before going up against the top teams. You'd still allow teams from both divisions to play ODI & T20 cricket against eachother.

    I see it as a good thing, but obviously Crowe sees it differently.

  • kingcobra85 on January 18, 2014, 8:46 GMT

    What is more important than tier II nations is the survival of test cricket. The longest form of cricket in itself is in danger in all the countries may expect the Ashes. So if Tier I cricket ensures more exciting and even contest then I am all for it.

    Look at the difference in cricket in the Ashes and SA Vs India. You decide which series had the best cricket played and a even contest.

    Emotions should not be brought into the argument. If you want to be in the Tier I then earn it. NZ also needs to get ride of their tradition of playing cricket in rugby grounds so their players can have a facility for them all year long to get better.

  • on January 18, 2014, 8:40 GMT

    TWO-tier system will not only destroy test cricket but also destroy overall cricket. This system will demotivate teams and create discrimination. World is not consist on only Ind,Eng,Aus or even 10 nations. ICC should promote cricket around the globe and should learn from FIFA. Otherwise in few years no body will not play and watch cricket. Shame on ICC.

  • on January 18, 2014, 8:37 GMT

    @SrinR according to recent statistics, England lost 5-0 to Australia in ashes. Do they not deserve to be relegated? Or is it only the currently low ranked countries who will suffer?

  • on January 18, 2014, 8:22 GMT

    @SrinR: you claimed that Martin is less analytic, but can I ask the reference behind your Insights ? You predicted NewZealand- "not that bad" and Windeis "are on similar level of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe". I request you to clearly analysis performance data of last 3 years from this site to analyze how wrong you are. With due respect, please don't clime something true from insight only.....

  • Ray24 on January 18, 2014, 8:17 GMT

    The tier system is laughable really. I find it hard to believe that India would qualify in this system. When you look at their away record its one of the worst and they have been in the game for a long time. Or maybe India shouldn't be allowed to tour Australia, Eng and SA? Likewise, Eng were beaten by Pak 3-0, and 5-0 by Aus, so how do they consider themselves as being among the top 4? Countries like WI and NZ do deserve to be in the game for sure. SL and Pak are as good as the others, and we saw this with Eng's whitewash. India is just being pushed into this as they have the money, otherwise their test performance leaves a lot to be desired. They lost to SA and almost lost while defending 450 odd runs. Or maybe the Indian bowlers shouldn't be allowed to tour? The ICC needs to work on this and not marginalize the others without much thought. This will only go to destroy the beautiful game.

  • on January 18, 2014, 8:12 GMT

    Every time Aussie and England play each other it's a ruddy uncompetitive flogging by one side over the other. And we are going to get MORE of this? For goodness sakes, it's over TWO YEARS since NZ last played our neighbours Australia under the current system!!! And guess who won? That's right NZ did, on Aussie soil. But no, we need more over hyped one sided series between teams who are rubbish away from home.

  • on January 18, 2014, 8:08 GMT

    People these days are least interested in watching 5-days cricket (Obviously because of bombardment of T-20s and Stupid Leagues)

    If ICC wants that the number of Test Matches spectators reduces more, then they must go for Two-Tier Test System. And what will happen then ????? Real Cricket will be finished. The Gentlemen's Game will be a part of history. And only those Money Making Leagues will be left.

    ICC Must find a way to increase People's Interest in Test Match Cricket. If they cant do that, there is no need for an Idol Board like ICC.

  • corporaterock on January 18, 2014, 8:01 GMT

    All commentors here make a fairly valid point and I can understand Crowe's predicament as well. They should simply put a pin on this idea without proceeding as it will not be an ideal situation for most nations.

    My two cents, the ICC should make it compulsory that all the top 8 nations should play 1 Test with any 2 out of Ban, Zim, Ire and Afg granting the latter 2 the status on a temporary basis.

    The arrangement between the teams can take place bilaterally if they wish to add ODIs or T20s. For ex, if Ind and Aus select their opponents for the tests as Ire and Afg, Eng and SA can choose the opposition as Ban and Zim. These are to be played in neutral or the associates home venues.

    This would guarantee at least 4 Tests for the bottom 4 other than the bilateral ties the nations can arrange.

  • PremierPred on January 18, 2014, 7:53 GMT

    Very well said Marty. This is an outrageously short sighted, ignorant (both of cricket history and of what drives success in the globally leading sports) and dare I say it stupid initiative. One only need go back to as recently as pre 2005 to find a period where England was outside the top 4 - indeed from 1988-2005 they wouldn't have set foot within the top four at all. Pakistan have in several periods led the world in cricket, and have some good young players again now. Not to mention Sri Lanka! To exclude nations based on what happens to be the status quo is insane. The people who have put this together need their heads read. And, those that are employed by the ICC should be encouraged to seek alternative employment. Keep voicing your view Martin, cricket needs more like you.

  • on January 18, 2014, 7:37 GMT

    Do not agree with the article. Though will have to see how the 2-tiers are made and rules that will be made by ICC - to judge it properly.

    In my opinion, 2-tiers of 6 teams each should be made. The teams in the same tier need to play atleast 3 Tests in a series versus each other and 2 Tests min. versus teams of other tier. ( Even today teams like India play only 2 Tests against NZ, WI, BAN) Two teams should not play each other more than twice in 3-4 years period.

    The ICC Rankings Table should take into account only those series which are according to rule and only the first 2 series (home and away) in 3-4 years period should be taken into account. At the end of 4 years the last 2 teams of Tier-1 play against Top-2 teams of Tier-2 in play-offs (3 match series-home and away), the winner will go to Tier-1. Same way the last 2 teams of Tier-2 will play the top-2 teams of WCL for a place in Tier-2.

    This will give a meaning to Test Cricket and also give a chance to other teams O:-) :-)

  • on January 18, 2014, 7:16 GMT

    There is just so much wrong with a two tier structure that it's laughable. What happens if the three 'undroppable' teams are ranked 6,7 and 8 by points? Does that mean there is then 8 teams in division 1 and just 2 sides left in div 2?

    What happens when Pakistan is in division 1? Does India then play them or do they then reduce themselves to playing just three other teams for prolonged periods? What happens when, for instance Aus, SA and NZ are all ranked in the top five? India and England are going to be extremely busy touring the southern hemishphere every summer! In fact India and England will be almost obliged to visit SA or Aus every summer, pretty tiresome for every one involved, especially when these two teams aren't always competitive away from home. Aus and SA deserve better than having poor teams foisted upon them!

    Series which do much good for cricket may just cease to take place.. Aus V NZ, Pak V SL, SA V Zim just aren't going to take place on a regular basis.

  • lillee4PM on January 18, 2014, 7:04 GMT

    I am in favour of a two tier system but no one should be exempt from relegation or promotion. Nations should play a minimum of three tests per series and a proper home and away system should be organised. International T20 is a waste of time and the ODI calendar should be reduced. The weaker test nations need better financial support through the ICC and help to develop their domestic comps. The power that BCCI has is obscene and the playing field is not even. A two tier system would not create inequity but under the current proposal it would highlight the disadvantages that are already there. The idea has the potential to work if all the stakeholders are treated fairly and I look forward to the day that india gets relegated to the lower tier!

  • Gizza on January 18, 2014, 6:47 GMT

    Wow, this is one of the best articles I've read on Cricinfo. Thanks Martin. And the late 80's is a great era to compare to now. That was the time when the three arguably strongest sides in the world were the West Indies, Pakistan and New Zealand. And below them were Australia, England and last of all India (ignoring emerging Sri Lanka and apartheid South Africa). There is in fact a de facto two-tier system already in place anyway. Look at the number of Tests and other international matches the political superpowers play against each other compared to the minnows (note that South Africa probably comes under political minnow despite their on-field dominance). The best opponents to this move can do is protest verbally and through our actions. Support Tests between lower ranked teams more frequently.

  • Lion_96 on January 18, 2014, 6:43 GMT

    I think it was Ian Chappell who once said that the Top Eight nations are the roots of the global game and the tree cannot survive without its roots being at its strongest. The suggestion that NZL or WI shud b relegated is absolutely absurd! Lets have more matches between the top four and the bottom four. Theres always talk about ZIM & BAN getting opportunity against big teams. Well, how about ENG,AUS,IND,SAF play more against PAK,SL, NZL & WI? Wouldn't that be one way that teams like NZL & WI improve?

  • on January 18, 2014, 6:41 GMT

    I see where the ICC is heading. I also agree with Martin Crowe. Here is a game which is growing in all the continents of the world today. Why prevent growth? The top eight should be left alone. They deserve their position and recognition. Leave Bangladesh and Zimbabwe where they are. They play competitive cricket against top nations and they worked very hard to get there.

    For the aspiring younger cricketing nations, ICC need to support their game and arrange competitive games amongst them. After a few competitions, the top country amongst the growing nations can be elevated to that higher level similar to Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. All other sports started this way and spread from country to country, and that is why we have Olympics today.

    The ICC has a better score than I do for cricketing nations but as far I know cricket is now playing in Argentina, Italy, Hong Kong, Suriname, US, Canada to name a few.

    That is how ICC need to look at a growing game to support and develop it.

  • VisBal on January 18, 2014, 6:32 GMT

    ...cont'd What we do not realise is that even though results are only averaged for the last 4 yrs, the points accumulated depend on the ratings of their opponents AT THAT POINT IN TIME. That means that on average 8 yrs' worth of history is present in one calculation of the ratings. The other problem with the rating system is that they 'jump'. At the end of July, the series from 4 yrs prior disappear from the calculation. That means that ratings and rankings can change on August 1 without any team playing a series at the time...

  • VisBal on January 18, 2014, 6:29 GMT

    Drew Foster, you post really comes to the heart of the basic stupidity behind the formulation of the ratings system. The ratings system actually benefits teams that win short series to the detriment of teams winning longer series. Moreover, it is easier for a home team to win short series because (a) the touring team would not have time to acclimatise, and (b) the tourists are under the pump immediately after losing the first Test. Also, if two teams are playing a series and Team A has more than 50 points more than Team B (hasn't happened yet, but theoretically possible), then A's rating will REDUCE unless they win by a whitewash, even one draw will be fatal. But why was such a stupid system devised? Because, in spite of the FTP, all series are negotiated bilaterally. So they need to balance out each team's different work loads (a) vis-à-vis other teams, and (b) from year to year. Cont'd...

  • on January 18, 2014, 6:25 GMT

    If Martin is so concerned about NZ being relegated maybe they should start winning a few games...They haven't beaten Australia in a series for almost 30 years. When was the last time they beat an India, Eng or Sth Africa..? They would struggle in the Sheffield Shield. Do we really need players from Sth Africa, Aust & India padding their averages against the likes of the west Indies, Zimbabwe & Bangladesh..? There should be 2 divisions with 6 teams in each, every 2 years the bottom 2 teams are relegated and the top 2 teams in division 2 would advance. At the moment it would be Sth Af, Ind, Aust, Eng, Pak, SL in Div 1. the rest in Div 2. Nobody benefits if Sth Africa play Bangladesh..?

  • ProfJ on January 18, 2014, 6:13 GMT

    So the BCCI, CA and ECB will dominate test cricket and be immune to relegation. That reminds me...which country has been ranked no. 1 longest since the rankings started? Clue: None of the above.

  • on January 18, 2014, 6:10 GMT

    i think 2tiers system will be good if 1st tier have current ten members and about 8 who play in icc cricket league and top teams of low tier can play play off against lower ranking top div teams say in every 2 years

  • shanks1967 on January 18, 2014, 6:09 GMT

    The core problem here is money. Same game being played in 3 different formats is another problem. With the shortest format finding more and more spectators, more sponsors, more eyeballs on TV due to short attention span of viewers, there is more money for the T20 version. I honestly do not think a World Test Championship will work. See the crowds for IND VS SA, or SL VS PAK at Dubai shows that the format does not draw enough crowds. ODI format has a World Cup, T20 too has a world cup. Let the status quo continue. If more teams want to play Test Cricket I think they have to come up the hard way like SL/Bangladesh or Zimbabwe have done. To relegate NZ/West Indies is a ridiculous notion because it robs the test format of some fascinating duels on different conditions. In the early 80s Sri Lanka used to come to Chennai and play with Madras Presidency/Tamilnadu teams to get exposure. So Afghanistan/Ireland/Scotland/Netherlands can join a Ranji Trophy like competition and hone their skills.

  • afterhours on January 18, 2014, 6:07 GMT

    Mr Crowe you are right on point. The ICC plan is a sure way to kill test cricket which may not be a bad thing for the Caribbean. What you will see is more dominance for us in other sports, they will see what we can do in the Olympic.As a cricket lover for over 35 yrs I wont mind seeing WI stop playing cricket, the young people can then look forward to US sports like Basketball, Baseball,Track and field, European football and much more. Lets see how much fun they are going to have playing each other every year when its just four of then.If the ICC have any sense what the will do is finance the A teams of WI, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe to play in Australia England India and SA first class tournament.

  • on January 18, 2014, 6:07 GMT

    The way England played against Australia recently, and India against England in last two series, some boards may ask for categories in the tier. May be sub category in each category. Cricket is a complicated game. And the class system is not helping. In soccer Bangladesh is a very weak team, Bangladesh has a higher probability of playing Germany in Germany than playing a test against India in India. Two tier test cricket, my foot.

  • Sir_Francis on January 18, 2014, 6:06 GMT

    I sympathise but

    " . . . then Test cricket will die . . ." I get the impression that this is what the administrators want.

    I think it's a losing cause. I may even live to see the end of Test cricket.

    Of course the lesser form will continue and probably prove to continue to be popular whilst Test (& FC cricket?) becomes a mythical memory.

    Great shame but if that's what people want we can't stop it.

    If Tests do die I will switch to american baseball as I enjoy that game substantially more than limited overs "cricket".

  • Desihungama on January 18, 2014, 6:04 GMT

    And what about the proud contribution of Pakistan in terms of their expats playing in many International and Associate teams?

  • that_guy on January 18, 2014, 5:59 GMT

    Cricket needs this. Tests are dead/dying with life support provided by tests among top 4 teams. In order for cricket to move forwards tests should only be played by the top 4 or 5 ODI teams and ODIs should only be played by top 7 or 8 t20 teams and everyone should play t20s. In order to keep workload even amongst the top 4 teams they should only play top teams when playing ODIs and t20s

  • Halfspinner on January 18, 2014, 5:57 GMT

    A two tier system can work, provided the two tiers each have eight teams. The top eight can be called the World Group, and Tier two, the Challenger Group. Every four years, the bottom two from the World Group play off against the top two teams from the Challenger Group, for places in the World Group. And, in exchange of no relegation for the likes of England, India and Oz, they agree to play at least three tests against each of the others in the top eight during any four year period. Now for an FTP that actually works. (an Indian fan).

  • dalboy12 on January 18, 2014, 5:56 GMT

    @dinosaurus - what are you talking about "they were all county cricketers" - i don't think so. Hadlee mainly got in trouble cos he spoke freely about the fact that the schedule of the series favoured Aussie (Hadlee was a poor commentator). Lastly, have NZ's results really been that bad they have beaten in tests and at times well beaten, at other times they lost but were competitive for most of the test. But they won a series in SL and drew a series at home against England. They have won recently against WI. Like many nations most NZ's hidings have come away from home --- which is just the same as India, Aussie, and recently England. I do not believe the gap between the test playing nations like WI and NZ and the rest is as big as some comments here make it sound. WI just need to get their best side together and NZ is developing talent, give it a couple of years and I think you will see a very competitive NZ team - especially in the bowling department.

  • BYcricket on January 18, 2014, 5:54 GMT

    "When detailing Test match promotion and relegation, the document states that "relegation exceptions" will apply to India, England and Australia." This is a quote from the article just published on cricinfo so one would have to be very naive to think that the likes of India, Australia or England would actually be relegated even if their form says they should be.

    What happens if these countries all lie at the bottom of tier 1? Does one of the worlds best teams gets relegated? Do the team(s) deserving of promotion remain consigned to tier 2 for another 3-4 years? Why can't Ireland and Afghanistan play a test against weaker touring teams like New Zealand or the West Indies before a series against England or in the UAE as opposed to facing a county team or no warm up at all? Why does there need to be 2 tiers for matches like this to happen? It would also be more beneficial to ease these teams into test cricket as opposed to dropping them in the deep end ala Bangladesh who have struggled.

  • on January 18, 2014, 5:52 GMT

    Ridiculously shallow points raised in this argument. That this idea is only being raised now is just like saying why wasn't it thought of before. It is a useless thought. I mean, why did they only think of penicillin after the plague? Or why did I just realise to take my steak out of the freezer now? The answer is because circumstances created the thought. Also, what is the point of a first tier team playing against a second tier team? Unless the first tier team is playing away from home it is going to be completely one-sided on most occasions. As it is now, a high ranked team has little to gain and much to lose playing a low ranked team in terms of points. If Aus were to play against Ban and beat them 3-0 they would probably gain 1 point. I think it should be 5 teams in the top tier though with no permanent members especially since Eng and Ind are either so poor away or often just poor all round. Aus and SA could still be permanently top tier, based on permanently competitive play.

  • on January 18, 2014, 5:45 GMT

    They want two tier system yet so many of the tests between top four have been one sided.

  • Udendra on January 18, 2014, 5:42 GMT

    At least Martin Crowe "has the balls" to state this. Lets see how many cricket boards can voice their opinion.

  • on January 18, 2014, 5:35 GMT

    Cpt.meanster you must have been living on Mars for the past couple of years. NZ were 1 wicket away from humiliating England and winning the test series in NZ 10 months ago. And you say they have been a consistently poor cricket nation over the past several years? What does that make that rabble in Australia atm that just lost 5-0 to an average Australian side? Also NZ beat Australia in Hobart in 2011. Was there talk about consigning Aus to a second division? Granted NZ has not been consistently threatening the top sides for over ten years but to say they have been as poor as you make them out to be is ridiculous

  • Rasskle on January 18, 2014, 5:35 GMT

    What a load of tripe. I have never liked Martin Crowe and don't care a lot about NZ, either.......BUT he is 100% right on this. NZ are always competative, especially against Australia. And yes.......all teams have their ups n downs. West Indies......unbeatable one day, hopeless the next.

    Test Cricket is the TOP level of all cricket. Test cricket needs a proper ladder.......and World Champion, but not the current bulldust we are fed by the Indian controlled ICC. Christ.......the Indians are making the French look competent.

    I don;t know all the facts, but let's look at the facts we all know without bias. 5 day test matches make an annual competition unworkable. Even a 4 year competition is unworkable. Because of the 5 day playing time, there is a need for a 2 tier playing competition, with a limited number in each tier. But........too few teams in either tier makes the nature of the format laughable.

  • Rahul_Ah on January 18, 2014, 5:31 GMT

    Its actually quite simple. Have a period of 4 years for this world championship.

    At the beginning have 4 bilateral tours organized based no the rankings. To make sure that there is a good competition, with teams competing against other teams very close to their rankings.

    These tours will all happen on neutral venues, where the curators and umpires are decided by the ICC with a focus on result oriented pitch.

    Then have the 4 winners for each series (if a series is drawn, higher rank team goes through) play 2 more series with the closest ranked team.

    Once again, the 2 winners can play the final series.

    This is basically making every encounter not a knockout but rather a series. Teams play bilateral series anyway. This just decides the participating teams by the rankings, and allows for the closely ranked teams to play together rather than boring games like Bangladesh vs Australia, that is just gonna be boring and one sided anyway.

  • on January 18, 2014, 5:26 GMT

    All those people slagging off Martin Crowe and saying that if NZ is good enough, they will be promoted to div 1 etc, you do realise that the proposal that has been drafted by the BCCI, CA and ECB says that these 3 respective nations will be exempt from relegation? How is that fair to the other nations in the so-called top tier? Also saying that NZ has always struggled: You do realise NZ was no.3 in the world in the not too distant past. Consistently ranked ahead of England and India from the late 90s - 2004.

  • varunrallapalli on January 18, 2014, 5:26 GMT

    NZ & WI are languishing at the bottom of the test ranking table just because of their performances not because of their history.It is these teams which are drawing maximum mileage out of the scheduled ODIs and T20s,both financially and success-wise.If these teams are not able to perform at the standards of other teams in tests it is because of the flaws in their domestic structures.Here is where Martin Crowe's argument is in pure mess.One side he talks of refurbishment of test cricket during these days of shortened formats talking over the control and the other side he dwells about the past where South Africa was not relegated to lower division after their reintroduction in 1991.What is required is for the ICC to stop the individual nations' preferences over the formats and it taking over the control big time and introducing the two tier system based on the performances in the stipulated number of tests annually,retaining the importance of holding World T20 and World Cup periodically.

  • PakRage on January 18, 2014, 5:25 GMT

    Well Said Martin. Completely second him.

  • Mutunga on January 18, 2014, 5:11 GMT

    I can see both sides to the argument. There are several advantages to the 2-tier system, which others have already pointed out in their comments.

    However, I totally understand Martin Crowe's concerns about what would happen if NZ ever ended up in the second tier. Players would presumably have to hone test match skills against Afghanistan and Ireland (rather than Australia and South Africa) and those skills would further decline.Literally nobody would be interested in watching. Test cricket could collapse permanently here and first-class cricket would inevitably follow.

    I see a dystopian future in which T20 is the primary format in NZ and we become a feeder nation for the IPL. Hadlee, Crowe and Turner would be distant memories - Ross Taylor reconstituted as a slogger.

    That said, we have some promising players coming through and I hope this heralds genuine improvement, not just another false dawn.

  • on January 18, 2014, 5:07 GMT

    Well said Mr Crowe, But First Tier should have 7 test playing nations and second Tier should have 6 nations consists of Irland, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and nation realgated from First Tier ( Last place in first Tier should be demoted to Second tier after every three/ four years) and a nation promoted among non test playing nations.

    Ex at present. 1st Tier: SA, IND, AUS, ENG, PAK, SL, NZ 2nd Tier:WI, BAN, ZIM, IRE, AFG, ( NETH, SCOT, CAN...Whoever qualifies)

    This should work.........

  • on January 18, 2014, 4:59 GMT

    CPT meanster - crowe has raised a good point. Earlier England, India and Australia were an ordinary team and Eng and Ind were outside top 4 for over 15 years. Why didn't anyone come up with two tier system then. So why come up with this system when the teams that are least commercially viable are doing poorly (both NZ and WI have very low populations). I am no traditionalist by the way. But when they are doing poorly instead of helping them financially,a two tier system is developed - where opportunity to gather revenue from games against Ind, Aus and Eng is gone. as dr arash said - who is going to watch NZ vs ireland. two tier system has its good points, but flaws like smaller teams being left more financially vulnerable.

  • HatsforBats on January 18, 2014, 4:57 GMT

    Sorry Martin, I can't agree. If NZ are in the 2nd tier then they can (hopefully) get some much needed practice at winning games, & the proposed system means they would not be disadvantaged financially whilst in the 2nd tier. If they are good enough, they get promoted and get the chance to play for the World Test Championship crown, pretty good incentive if you ask me (it's probably all shiny and stuff too!).

    Alternatively, award test status to a couple of the strongest associates and have a 3-tier system comprised of (current rankings):1. SA, Ind, Aus, Eng; 2. Pak, SL, WI, NZ and; 3. Zim, Bang, X, X.

  • truthfinder on January 18, 2014, 4:57 GMT

    If any team which deserved to be out of the elite league, that is India. Although I myself being Indian, I strongly believe that India's cricket administration did no service for the Test cricket. Their primary objective is to accumulate wealth through whatever means. India plays very little test cricket even though it has the unique negative support of its billion frustrated (because of non existence in any other sports) fan who are ready to pay even for 5 days game. It tried nothing to improve or innovate the longer form of cricket. Rather reduce the test match at minimum opportunity.

  • badmaash on January 18, 2014, 4:57 GMT

    Great defence by Crowe, keep fighting the good fight!

    To other commentators: India and England are poor test cricket teams, BCCI bullied South Africa to make non-seaming tracks in the last series and we all saw what England test cricket is about.

    I don't watch ODIs and T20s anymore, because they are just too repetitive - and if these measure are pushed through then I will certainly stop watch test cricket as well.

    Shame on ICC, BCCI, CA and ECB.

  • dinosaurus on January 18, 2014, 4:52 GMT

    This reminds me of Richard Hadlee's first (and last) stint as a member of the Channel 9 commentary team. He spent the summer slagging off at everything he could about Australia and showed no sign whatever of understanding that, if it wasn't for the Packer revolution and the 3-way one-day competition that was then part of it, the opportunities for Kiwi cricketers would have remained (mainly) playing county cricket in order to be able to be a professional cricketer. In some of those early seasons, the New Zealand players hardly knew each other before their tour of Australia started, since they were all county cricketers meeting very seldom. Remember Dhoni's recent comments here about the unusual shape of NZ cricket grounds (NZ's national sport is Rugby Union - and they are *very* good at it), so the grounds are built around a rectangle I don't think NZ can fairly claim to have "supported" Test cricket; participated (with considerable success - look out India in the ODIs) but not carried.

  • on January 18, 2014, 4:35 GMT

    I am for 2-tier and that best idea ICC ever had for test cricket. Mr.Crowe, If NZ is good they will be promoted in 4 years time and need to maintain the standards there. It seems your concern is more about money than cricket.

  • Skott on January 18, 2014, 4:32 GMT

    Smaller countries are already on the outer. Aus has played 4 tests against Bangladesh since they first started playing tests in 2001. 4 tests ever. How may have Aus played against INdia and England in that same time? Sport should not be about making a profit. It should be about playing the game.

  • on January 18, 2014, 4:31 GMT

  • Damian123 on January 18, 2014, 4:27 GMT

    To all 'Indian cricket fans', we'll see whether NZ is not good enough in Test cricket, in the coming series against India.

    Away results of India in their last series': Vs. SA 0-1, Vs. WI 1-0, Vs. Aus 0-4, Vs. Eng 0-4, Vs. SL 1-1, Vs. NZ 1-0, Vs. Pak 1-0. 4 wins & 10 losses in 22 Tests & only 3 series' wins. So much for the hype!

  • on January 18, 2014, 4:23 GMT

    The definition of top 5 is also flawed - it totally depends on the pitch. I am of the view SL (or even Bangladesh, in ODIs) can effectively compete against SA & Aus in the sub-continent turners. And a lowly ranked NZ is probably going to give India a pretty hard time, if they prepare green tops.

  • Busie1979 on January 18, 2014, 4:18 GMT

    A knockout competition on the basis of a single test is a bad idea. The top teams would never declare or play for a win, which would make the game boring. Also - determining whether you progress on the basis of nothing but a single test will make the whole competition a shallow competition and not reflective of the merit of each team. Test cricket is about the long haul, not a one-off showpiece event.

    The way I see it, NZ can be top tier if they win their tier and move up. I don't think that will happen because they are not good enough and their population is too small. But if NZ think they belong in the top tier, they should have to earn it. If NZ gets trumped by Ireland, Zimbabwe or Afghanistan then so be it. That's their fault.

    As an analogy, despite a rich tennis history, Australia has been outside of the main group in Davis Cup for years. They don't deserve to be there. Nobody's complaining. Nor should they.

    NZ shouldn't complain either.

  • flickspin on January 18, 2014, 4:02 GMT

    if producing world class players were easy every nation would have 11 superstars.

    west indies have 6 million people and has half the wealth of australia,new zealand has 4 million people and are wealthy,zimbabwe have 15 million and are poor,bangladesh have 120 million and poor

    you could fit 166 west indians into the population of india.

    you could fit 250 new zealander into the population of india

    you could fit 66 zimbabweans into the population of india

    you could fit 10 bangladesheans into the population into the population of india.

    these countries box above thier weight, when you look at it in this light india are chronic under achievers.

    the 2 tier system is scary, 50 years of cricket history will be thrown out the window.

    demoted countries run the risk of cricket becoming obsolete.

    i have to say this 2 tier system is going to destory cricket.

    the icc should help bangladesh,zimbabwe, west indies and new zealand improve with investment

  • jithoosin on January 18, 2014, 3:52 GMT

    0. Confession - India fan here. My points might be just as biased as the authors. 1. Test cricket needs more competetive matches. Thumb rule - A team is considered competetive to another, if they have fair chance to win test series, atleast in their home country. For India vs NZ/WI, it doesn't appear true. 3. If NZ/WI are really good enough, they should perform well in D2 to get promoted to D1. 4. The points about Ban and Zim not playing other associates are true. But Ireland definitely needs chance. They are better. D2 will give that.

    Finally, Ind vs WI/NZ - Do I want to watch it ? Absolutely not. I prefer India vs Aus/SA/Eng/Pak/SL in order.

  • on January 18, 2014, 3:37 GMT

    In World Cup Football, certain days are scheduled for all countries in a region or group to stop what they are doing and play Home/Away fixtures. If there was a a League of one-off Tests, at neutral venues, on certain days of the year, a Test World Champ could be decided. The eight Test-playing countries would have to play the other 7 countries once each, in a year (or even two.) (35 days' play) Over a two-year period this would be one test every 3 1/2 months. Neutral venues. No warm-up games. No excuses. Arrive. Play. Go back to schedules. Every team would play on the same dates. Even if mid-tour. Shajah could host many matches. Teams that are touring could play a third country in the place they are visiting (e.g. England could play Sri Lanka in Australia at the end of this tour.) Points would be given for a win or draw, as well as bonus points for an innings victory or other decisive factors (3-day result) (rain?). If soccer can get countries to assemble and send teams, so 2 crickt

  • Cpt.Meanster on January 18, 2014, 3:16 GMT

    The one thing I will give Martin Crowe credit for is his writing skill. Besides that, this article is stooped in ignorance and disbelief more than clear analytical thinking and coherent subjective debate. He draws in examples from the past to mask his nation's own ability or lack of to remain relevant/viable in the arena of test cricket. We have seen over the past several years how poor NZ and WI have been as cricket nations; I meant the level of performances, not the cricketing finances, though even the latter factor isn't far from the truth. From a purely argumentative point, NZ are not a good team in test cricket. Why doesn't Crowe ask his national team to improve in their game instead of trying to clutch on to events of the past ? After all, it is all those historical tenets that has almost killed test cricket. Not to mention the brilliance of the T20 format in drawing a level playing field among teams. So dear Martin, the 2 tier test system is a good one. Ask NZ to improve first.

  • on January 18, 2014, 3:15 GMT

    Contrary to two tier system, teams ranked 6-10 should only play test cricket against teams ranked 1-6. ODIs and T20 bring revenue but make playing ODIs and T20 against top 6 teams an incentive. That way, revenues from playing ODIs vs 1-6 test teams is directly proportional to their test performances.

  • WMC71 on January 18, 2014, 3:12 GMT

    You have to feel for NZ, but reality is that they simply are not up to the standard of the top teams in the world at the moment. Teams will need to earn their place in the top tier, having past success should not automatically entitle a team that is not performing currently at the top level the right to be included. What is unfair about that.

  • on January 18, 2014, 3:08 GMT

    Exactly, what is the purpose of 2 tier system ? Who is going to watch a 3 test series between Nzl vs Ireland or WI vs Kenya? Instead ICC should ensure that all 8 top teams should play at least 3 tests between them in a period of 2 years. Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Ireland, Kenya n all should play each other more often.

    Lets have a 8 team knock out test match tournament like ICC champions trophy on neutral venues . We can finish that in 25-30 days.

  • TheBride on January 18, 2014, 2:58 GMT

    "It will be introduced on the "no disadvantage" condition that none of the current ICC Full Member nations would lose that status and its financial advantages" Since New Zealand is a full time member, so as per the article its status shouldn't get affected, neither should that of West Indies. However we should wait for more details about how the system would be implemented when it does. My understanding is that it would be a good incentive for Bangladesh and Zimbabwe to become more competitive and opportunity for teams like Afghanistan and Ireland to play test cricket at the highest level.

  • on January 18, 2014, 2:54 GMT

    Excellent article. i love it

  • AvmanM on January 18, 2014, 2:54 GMT

    Martin Crowe is being one-sided and narrow-minded here. There are several things that are wrong with his thinking:

    1) NZ and WI would not automatically be consigned to Division II. With promotion and relegation between the two tiers, playing well in DII would result in a promotion to DI.

    2) Even if commercial potential was deciding factor in placing teams in D1, only India, England, South Africa and maybe Australia would be guaranteed a DI spot. The NZ and WI establishments fare quite favorably compared to SL, Ban, Pak and Zim for crowd and sponsorship interests.

    3) Why is there this "preserve the status quo" attitude about protecting countries with a long cricketing tradition? New teams like Ireland and Afghanistan need to be able to play better opposition to improve their standards, something the two-tier system would allow. In any case, countries like the Netherlands and Canada have a cricketing heritage going back to the early 1800s, so what is all the fuss about?

  • AvmanM on January 18, 2014, 2:54 GMT

    Martin Crowe is being one-sided and narrow-minded here. There are several things that are wrong with his thinking:

    1) NZ and WI would not automatically be consigned to Division II. With promotion and relegation between the two tiers, playing well in DII would result in a promotion to DI.

    2) Even if commercial potential was deciding factor in placing teams in D1, only India, England, South Africa and maybe Australia would be guaranteed a DI spot. The NZ and WI establishments fare quite favorably compared to SL, Ban, Pak and Zim for crowd and sponsorship interests.

    3) Why is there this "preserve the status quo" attitude about protecting countries with a long cricketing tradition? New teams like Ireland and Afghanistan need to be able to play better opposition to improve their standards, something the two-tier system would allow. In any case, countries like the Netherlands and Canada have a cricketing heritage going back to the early 1800s, so what is all the fuss about?

  • on January 18, 2014, 2:54 GMT

    Excellent article. i love it

  • TheBride on January 18, 2014, 2:58 GMT

    "It will be introduced on the "no disadvantage" condition that none of the current ICC Full Member nations would lose that status and its financial advantages" Since New Zealand is a full time member, so as per the article its status shouldn't get affected, neither should that of West Indies. However we should wait for more details about how the system would be implemented when it does. My understanding is that it would be a good incentive for Bangladesh and Zimbabwe to become more competitive and opportunity for teams like Afghanistan and Ireland to play test cricket at the highest level.

  • on January 18, 2014, 3:08 GMT

    Exactly, what is the purpose of 2 tier system ? Who is going to watch a 3 test series between Nzl vs Ireland or WI vs Kenya? Instead ICC should ensure that all 8 top teams should play at least 3 tests between them in a period of 2 years. Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Ireland, Kenya n all should play each other more often.

    Lets have a 8 team knock out test match tournament like ICC champions trophy on neutral venues . We can finish that in 25-30 days.

  • WMC71 on January 18, 2014, 3:12 GMT

    You have to feel for NZ, but reality is that they simply are not up to the standard of the top teams in the world at the moment. Teams will need to earn their place in the top tier, having past success should not automatically entitle a team that is not performing currently at the top level the right to be included. What is unfair about that.

  • on January 18, 2014, 3:15 GMT

    Contrary to two tier system, teams ranked 6-10 should only play test cricket against teams ranked 1-6. ODIs and T20 bring revenue but make playing ODIs and T20 against top 6 teams an incentive. That way, revenues from playing ODIs vs 1-6 test teams is directly proportional to their test performances.

  • Cpt.Meanster on January 18, 2014, 3:16 GMT

    The one thing I will give Martin Crowe credit for is his writing skill. Besides that, this article is stooped in ignorance and disbelief more than clear analytical thinking and coherent subjective debate. He draws in examples from the past to mask his nation's own ability or lack of to remain relevant/viable in the arena of test cricket. We have seen over the past several years how poor NZ and WI have been as cricket nations; I meant the level of performances, not the cricketing finances, though even the latter factor isn't far from the truth. From a purely argumentative point, NZ are not a good team in test cricket. Why doesn't Crowe ask his national team to improve in their game instead of trying to clutch on to events of the past ? After all, it is all those historical tenets that has almost killed test cricket. Not to mention the brilliance of the T20 format in drawing a level playing field among teams. So dear Martin, the 2 tier test system is a good one. Ask NZ to improve first.

  • on January 18, 2014, 3:37 GMT

    In World Cup Football, certain days are scheduled for all countries in a region or group to stop what they are doing and play Home/Away fixtures. If there was a a League of one-off Tests, at neutral venues, on certain days of the year, a Test World Champ could be decided. The eight Test-playing countries would have to play the other 7 countries once each, in a year (or even two.) (35 days' play) Over a two-year period this would be one test every 3 1/2 months. Neutral venues. No warm-up games. No excuses. Arrive. Play. Go back to schedules. Every team would play on the same dates. Even if mid-tour. Shajah could host many matches. Teams that are touring could play a third country in the place they are visiting (e.g. England could play Sri Lanka in Australia at the end of this tour.) Points would be given for a win or draw, as well as bonus points for an innings victory or other decisive factors (3-day result) (rain?). If soccer can get countries to assemble and send teams, so 2 crickt

  • jithoosin on January 18, 2014, 3:52 GMT

    0. Confession - India fan here. My points might be just as biased as the authors. 1. Test cricket needs more competetive matches. Thumb rule - A team is considered competetive to another, if they have fair chance to win test series, atleast in their home country. For India vs NZ/WI, it doesn't appear true. 3. If NZ/WI are really good enough, they should perform well in D2 to get promoted to D1. 4. The points about Ban and Zim not playing other associates are true. But Ireland definitely needs chance. They are better. D2 will give that.

    Finally, Ind vs WI/NZ - Do I want to watch it ? Absolutely not. I prefer India vs Aus/SA/Eng/Pak/SL in order.

  • flickspin on January 18, 2014, 4:02 GMT

    if producing world class players were easy every nation would have 11 superstars.

    west indies have 6 million people and has half the wealth of australia,new zealand has 4 million people and are wealthy,zimbabwe have 15 million and are poor,bangladesh have 120 million and poor

    you could fit 166 west indians into the population of india.

    you could fit 250 new zealander into the population of india

    you could fit 66 zimbabweans into the population of india

    you could fit 10 bangladesheans into the population into the population of india.

    these countries box above thier weight, when you look at it in this light india are chronic under achievers.

    the 2 tier system is scary, 50 years of cricket history will be thrown out the window.

    demoted countries run the risk of cricket becoming obsolete.

    i have to say this 2 tier system is going to destory cricket.

    the icc should help bangladesh,zimbabwe, west indies and new zealand improve with investment