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Haroon Lorgat

'We need to bring context to Tests'

The ICC's chief executive answers questions on the viability of three formats, Bangladesh's Test future and the best compliment he's received

Nagraj Gollapudi

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Haroon Lorgat address the media during the unveiling of the nominations for the 2009 ICC Awards, Mumbai, September 2, 2009
"We have made some tough decisions recently" © AFP
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I think we should have a league-based Test championship. Each of the top eight or nine teams plays the others home and away over a period of two years. That way every team will play eight Tests a year and none will be a dead rubber. What do you think? asked Capil from India
Many thanks for your suggestion, Capil. We are always open to ways in which we can promote and improve Test cricket. You are absolutely right. There is a real need for some meaningful context to be created around Test cricket, and we have been working on this for some time now. I am hopeful that all the Test-playing countries will soon embrace and agree on just how that context will work in reality.

What is the toughest thing about your job? asked Julius Finch from the UK
Trying to balance the divergent interests represented by the passionate but diverse group of stakeholders around the world.

I am confused about the ICC Hall of Fame. People seem to be inducted at strange intervals. Would it not make sense to have yearly inductions? asked Steve Marsh from New Zealand
The ICC Hall of Fame, devised in association with the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations, started off with 55 players originally selected by FICA in its own hall of fame. With that inherited list, and 2009 being the centenary year for the ICC, we spent much of the year formally inducting those 55 names. In conjunction with our members, we have chosen appropriate times for those inductions, such as Test matches, or, in the case of Don Bradman recently, the annual Bradman Oration at the MCG. From here on, as you suggest, there will be an annual induction process that will be announced at around the same time each year. For more information you can go to the Hall of Fame section on the ICC website.

Has anybody commented on your resemblance to V Ramakrishnan, the Nobel Prize winner (Chemistry)? asked D Haider from India
No, you are the first!

We saw some exciting battles between the bat and ball in the 2009 Champions Trophy, suggesting that 50-over cricket has the right to exist. Don't you think the ICC should try to strike a balance in promoting all forms of the game rather than contemplating the idea of having 40-over ODIs or two 25-over innings? asked Sriram from India
Depending on how we manage the game, we know all three formats can survive because they offer something different to players, sponsors, broadcasters and spectators: Test cricket has endurance, cut and thrust, a tradition of more than 130 years, and is regarded by the players as the ultimate test. ODIs have a history of their own, with nine World Cups stretching back to 1975, and the format offers a chance for sides to recover from difficult situations while still affording a result in a single day, as well as being the biggest team prize in the game. Twenty20 is a great vehicle to develop the game at domestic level and the short, sharp nature of the format allows tournaments to take place over a short period of time. We certainly don't have plans to move away from any of the formats. Like you, I think the Champions Trophy and the subsequent ODI series have proved that ODIs are still very popular. We will always investigate ways to improve ODIs and we encourage our members to trial different innovations at domestic level, but we will not rush into making wholesale changes to ODIs.

What's the best compliment you've received in your job as ICC chief executive? asked Carol Fields from Australia
Perhaps the best compliment I received came at the time when I handled the situation following the fateful attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore.

What is your verdict about Bangladesh's Test future? Should they keep playing or will you strip them of their status? asked Nakib Ahmed from Bangladesh
I honestly believe they have a future in Test cricket, but certainly they need to improve. The decision to strip them of their status rests with the ICC board and currently there are no plans to change Bangladesh's Test status.

How can we improve the standards and quality of cricket in European countries in other than in the UK and the Netherlands? Can we ever imagine a day when most of the EU nations play the cricket World Cup - in either the Twenty20 or ODI format? Tim Nils asked from Germany
We are spending around US$300million on the development of cricket below the Full-Member level, which is more than any sport apart from soccer. We now have eight divisions of the World Cricket League, which gives all our Associate and Affiliate Members the opportunity to improve and ultimately qualify for the World Cup. Our European regional office works extremely hard to organise regional tournaments involving all our members within that region, and there are enormous opportunities for teams in Germany, France, Switzerland, Estonia, Slovenia and all the other members to make improvements and jump up the rankings. We hope one day to see many more countries competitive at the highest level and I am confident that we are progressing well on that road.

 
 
We are looking at ways of finding a context for every match as well as investigating the possibility of playing day-night Tests. We also need to find better ways to market Test cricket more effectively in those places where it is not as popular as the other two international formats
 

How do you plan to revive spectator interest in Test cricket? Also, the Champions Trophy wasn't as exciting as promised. asked Kartik Seshadri from India
Firstly, I don't agree the Champions Trophy was not exciting. Many of us felt the short, sharp format involving the top eight-ranked teams in one destination proved to be very popular, and some of the cricket played was exciting. The players were certainly impressed with the event, as were most neutral observers, and even many who had previously been critical.

In relation to Test cricket, it is no secret that spectator numbers have declined in some places over the past decade or so. We are working hard at the ICC level to find effective ways of promoting Test cricket and regenerating in-stadia spectator interest. As I said to Capil above, we are looking at ways of finding a context for every match as well as investigating the possibility of playing day-night Tests. We also need to find ways to market Test cricket more effectively in those places where it is not as popular as the other two international formats.

Why is the ICC is giving so few matches to Pakistan? asked Rana Muhammad Muaz Hassan
As you know, international cricket is not possible in Pakistan under the present conditions. However, it is good to see Pakistan still playing at the international level. They played ODI and Twenty20I series in the UAE and a Test series against New Zealand. Following their current trip to Australia, they will also play a return series against Australia in England next year. It is good to see the other members rallying around the PCB and ensuring the international team does not suffer because of the security situation at home. There is always a place in ICC's events for Pakistan. It is heartening to see their standard of cricket is not suffering: in the last three major ICC events, Pakistan won one [World Twenty20, 2009], came second in another [World Twenty20 2007] and was a semi-finalist in the third [Champions Trophy 2009].

Is the ICC a governing body or just a facilitator for boards? Why can't it play a much bolder role in making tough decisions? asked Sriram from Norway
The ICC is a members' organisation that governs the game of cricket. Every decision is made in the interest of the game and the members. The ICC board, which is the ultimate decision-making body, is made up of the 10 Full Members and three Associate and Affiliate Member representatives. Those directors are charged with making decisions that are in the best interests of the international game. It is always a challenging environment given the divergent views that exist, but I think the ICC board fulfills its brief very well. It would be fair to acknowledge that we have made some tough decisions recently.

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