With the news of Kevin Pietersen’s retirement from international one-dayers, pundits, bloggers, journalists, and cricketers all joined in on the chorus that I have been singing since I started watching the sport:
Sing it with me now: There is too much bloody cricket.
And just to reinforce this fact, the news trickled out today that New Zealand would, more than likely, be missing four of its superstars in their test series against England next summer. Furthermore, we learned today that Jimmy Anderson would be rested for the third test against the West Indies – presumably so he is fit for the one-dayers that follow.
The outcry from the pundits is no more than I expected – just as the outcry before and after the one off twenty20 between South Africa and India was expected.
But despite all of this, nothing has changed. And to quote Douglas Adams: “And so the problem remained.”
And it is only going to get worse.
What cricket needs is a complete overhaul of how it schedules matches, how it balances formats, and who has all of the power: the franchise, the national boards, the sponsors, the ICC.
Tweaks here and there will not keep KP playing one-dayers for England, or keep Malinga playing tests for Sri Lanka – tweaks are nothing more than rotten shingles on a leaky roof. And we all known what the definition of insanity is. (In which case, the ICC is clearly out of its fucking mind – but’s a post for another day).
Cricket needs an entirely new roof. Nay. Cricket needs an entirely new house. Burn the old one down, walk away, start anew.
Let’s start with international cricket. Right now, the ten test nations play each other in a semi-regular, semi-random, cycle of tests, ODIs, and T20s. There are the Ashes, and Triangular ODI tournaments, and tours, and on and on, ad infitium. Ad nauseum.
My suggestion, and I have no idea how this will actually work, is to divide the ten teams into two divisions, based on the ICC test rankings. Over the course of each 12 month period, each team will play the four teams in its division in three tests, for a total of 12 tests per year. The winner of the top division is the World Test Champion. The last place finisher in the top division is regulated to the second division, whilst the winner of the second division is promoted to the first division.
What about the one-dayers? Well, between each test, there will be room for a single one-day match – either a T20 or an ODI, it will be up to the boards involved to decide. And that’s it. Oh, there will still be the World Cup every four years, and the T20 World Cup every two years, and the IPL and the Big Bash League, and all the other domestic competitions, but gone will be the countless, and meaningless, and interminable, international one day matches – which would of course free up scheduling room for aforementioned domestic competitions.
Now, of course, there are problems with all of this. It would be a scheduling nightmare, you would have to do away with traditional competitions like the Ashes, and the cricketing boards would have to find other ways to line their coffers other than countless one-dayers – and those are just three of the problems with what would be a monumental overhaul in the way cricket works.
But I think it could be done. And if not the above, then something else needs to happen. And I truly believe that something else will happen sooner rather than later, as more players defect from their international duties, and more test series are diluted of their talent due to domestic competitions like the IPL.
Well, I believe it will, but if it doesn’t, this might truly be what finally kills cricket in the end.
Your thoughts, dear reader?