I name each of my posts after a random match that is happening on that particular day – the point being is that there is always cricketing happening somewhere on the globe. It could be England-Australia in front of a packed house at Lord’s, or it could be two Zimbabwean domestic teams playing in front three people at some shit ground no one has ever heard of.
There is always cricket.
Just today, for instance, there are matches happening in the following tournaments: The Women’s Twenty20 Internationals; The Premiere League Tournament – Tiers A and B (Sri Lankan domestic); the Ranji Trophy Elite; the Coca-Cola Pro50 Championship (Zimbabwean domestic); the Big Bash League (I still cannot get over how stupid a name that is); the Caribbean T20; the CSA Provincial T20 Challenge; The England Lions tour of Bangladesh; and the CSA U19 Competition.
That’s a lot of cricket today.
And some might say that is a good thing, that it shows that our game is healthy. That’s eight different tournaments happening on all four points of the cricketing globe: Australia, Sri Lanka, India, Zimbabwe, the West Indies, Bangladesh, South Africa.
The game is healthy, vibrant, growing.
Or maybe not.
The bulk of those tournaments involve the game’s shortest format, and I bet that at least half of the matches happening today are, for all intents and purposes, meaningless (the pun in that sentence will become clear later.)
The first problem mentioned in the sentence above is one we are all aware of, but the prevalence of T20 at the domestic level I think is finally starting to affect test cricket. Not only are the game’s biggest names struggling in tests, but there is a real dearth of younger crickets available to take their places, because none of them were raised on first class cricket.
(One cricketing board has outlawed twenty20 for U20s and younger – really cannot remember which one though – but good on them.)
Plus the stars of the game are being forced, for a lack of better word, to play so much freaking cricket that when they do finally get to play in marquee test series, they are just simply plumb worn out; which is why we are getting so many tests ending in three or four days instead of going the distance. (I have yet to explore the stats on that claim, but I will look into it.)
Indian batsmen, for instance, are spending six weeks playing in the IPL, when they should be in England playing county cricket and learning how to bat outside of the subcontinent.
And regarding the second problem, meaningless matches are prime suspects for matchfixing and spotfixing; they are a gambler’s paradise. (Full credit to the Switch Hit podcast for initially pointing this out to me.)
The influence of the gambling mafia’s money is a BIG problem in World Cricket, and it is a problem at ALL levels – and getting rid of the countless meaningless matches would go along way toward getting rid of this cricketing scourge.
But who is to blame for all of this meaningless T20 cricket? The fans? The players? The TV networks? The cricketing boards? The ICC? The club owners?
That’s the rub: all of the above.
And how to you fix it? One thought: national boards should outlaw its younger players from playing in domestic tournaments outside of their home tournament. For you have to say that on the surface, the BCCI’s decision to not allow is players to play County Cricket looks like the right decision – but it also hamstrings player development. (Again, just an example, I don’t mean to single India out.)
I think the answer lies is in us, the fans. I really do. We are clamoring for more cricket, more cricket, more cricket – just look at all of us begging for more five tests series, for example?
It is up to us to let the ICC and the national boards know that we do not want more cricket, we want better cricket. And when we are given better cricket, we need to support it by paying for Willow TV, buying kits, becoming members, supporting corporate sponsors…etc.
Right now boards in Bangladesh and Australia are being forced to organize T20 mercenary tournaments to survive, let’s give them another means.
It’s of course, not that simple, and we might have even gone too far down the road to turn back; but in order for test cricket to survive, we all need to start getting used to having less cricket.
Sure, it is great having the Caribbean T20 to watch today on ESPN3, and I am looking forward to watching the Bangladesh Premiere League, but I would gladly do without both if it meant Australia and India were 1-1 going into Adelaide.
And there are prime examples for the ICC to look at. The NFL is printing money by the truck full, yet the season only lasts from September through January. Players AT MOST play in 23 games a season (16 regular season, four pre-season, four inthe playoffs and Super Bowl.)
Obviously, such a format would never work for cricket, but there has to be a way to get our sport closer to such a model.
For the sake of the game: less cricket.
Finally, I had thought about ending this post with a note that I was no longer going to name each of my posts after a match, that I was going to stop being part of the problem. But nah, I really like it – I think it makes my blog stick out a little, so I am going to keep doing it for now.
And that’s your Saturday cricketing ramble.
Look early next week for a couple progamming notes, as well as a proper preview of the BPL (no joke.)
Until next time.