New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) The MCC World Cricket Committee said in a statement that it has unanimously concluded the game is at a crossroads and has recommended an urgent intervention from various leaders to ensure international and franchise cricket can thrive together harmoniously.
It also expressed concern over the growing disparity in the amount of international cricket played by a minority of member nations compared to others; a situation which they feel is clearly neither equitable nor sustainable.
“The majority of the committee’s meeting centred on the future of the game, specifically what global cricket might look like in ten years’ time should it be left to evolve organically. The purpose of such foresight was to examine how international cricket can be protected, amidst a global cricketing schedule that is increasingly filled with short-form franchise tournaments.”
“The men’s cricket schedule in 2023 is saturated with franchise competitions, which overlay and compete with the ICC Future Tours Programme (FTP) of bilateral international cricket, recently released until 2027. The only gap in the combined schedules this year is in October and November when the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup takes place in India.”
“This trend is repeated annually, with constant overlap between international and franchise cricket, and the only clear air created for ICC Global tournaments. Of the domestic tournaments, only the Indian Premier League commands anything like a window to avoid international clashes,” said the committee in its statement.
The committee also called women’s cricket FTP till 2025 very clean with no overlapping of international and domestic leagues.
“However, the WCC urges Boards to work together to find the optimal balance between the two, taking learnings from the men’s congested schedule, to ensure that the overall workload for the game’s best international female cricketers is sustainable.”
“With women already seeing a heightened disparity of income in some countries between the franchise leagues and international cricket (versus men), and the consequential choices some are beginning to make to step away from international cricket, there are worrying signs of potential trends to come.”
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly, a member of the WCC, felt a balance has to be found in playing franchise T20 leagues and Test cricket in the modern world.
“I still believe that Test cricket is the biggest platform for cricket. That is where you find the great players, and that is why it is called a Test.”
“It is a test of skill. That should always continue to be the pinnacle and I am sure that countries will give importance to it and find the right balance between franchise cricket and Test cricket.”
Ex-Australia men’s head coach Justin Langer, who joined the WCC this year, said in the same vein. “The difference between international cricket and domestic T20 cricket is that the whole nation cares when their country is involved.”
“The best players’ statistics are measured at the international level: everyone knows that Tendulkar scored 100 international centuries and that Muralitharan took 800 Test wickets.”
“We need to protect the integrity of Test cricket and international cricket in general. It is how great careers are judged and it is where true passion and lasting memories are generated.”
The WCC urged ICC to look at the next cycle of tournaments and international cricket and challenge its full member nations to ensure a more equitable spread of international cricket.
“The ICC is increasing its revenues through the next broadcast cycle, as a result of the introduction of a men’s and women’s white-ball global event every year. Consequently, the WCC would like to see some of that additional revenue being ring-fenced to members to support the strategic ambitions of the game.”
“Primary focus should be on becoming the global game of choice for women and girls and assisting with the costs of staging international cricket, which runs at a loss for several countries.”