Two Fantasies

Tomorrow is the first day of the last test between England and the West Indies. No one is really expecting a barn burner by any means, because England has of course already won the series, but also since England has decided to rest their best bowler, and well, because the West Indies simply are not a very good side.

If the World Test League was instituted, however, this would not be the case. The West Indies could be playing for more than just pride, they could be playing for their very survival in the WTL 1st Division. Would you rather play New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka next year? Or would you rather play England, South Africa, Australia, and India?*

The latter? Fine. Then win.

For the teams in the first division are the teams that will fill your grounds. Those are the teams that bring hordes of supporters along with them to fill up your pubs, restaurants, and hotels.

And to continue this fantasy, England are currently tied on points with South Africa, and need a win to keep pace with their rivals at the top of the table.

And with both teams needing a win, we would be treated to five days of blood, sweat, and tears. But instead, in reality, it’s a dead rubber, and we are going to three, maybe three and a half, days of sleepy, bland cricket, interspersed with maybe a moment or two of brilliance.

I think this WTL idea has legs, in other words. It needs some fine tuning, and would require a complete overhaul of how cricket is played throughout the world and at all levels and in all formats, but I think it has legs. (Note: I don’t actually think this.)

*I know Pakistan is missing. They are going to win the 2nd division and be promoted to the 1st division. At the expense of the West Indies? I guess we’ll find out!

**While I was writing the above, Russ from Idle Summers made a fantastic comment on my original World Cricket League proposal. You should go read it. And then you should go read his thoughts on reorganization.

*

Tomorrow also brings us the first ODI between Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Unfortunately, only our Canadian friends will be able to watch, as it is not available to US viewers on Willow.

I really have had no serious complaints with Willow over the last few months. The streams have only had one or two seriously wonky moments, and they haven’t tried to blackmail any more cricket fans into using their service. They have instead just quietly been there, day in, day out, carrying the cricket.

And that has to change. It really is time for them to crack open the wallet and purchase the rights to cricket matches on the subcontinent. The vast majority of cricket fans in the USA are Indian ex-pats, and they are not able to (legally) watch their teams’ home matches on Willow. That is a crime…and a business opportunity.

I have no idea how many subscribers they currently have, but I bet they could double it, easily, if they added all Indian home matches to their current stable of events.

Now, I realize, they are rights issues involved here. I bet the BCCI prices the rights to carry their matches online at astronomical levels. But this is where the ICC should step in. If they are serious about stamping out pirated cricket streams, then they need to make online legal streams of matches available to ALL fans throughout the world at a reasonable cost. (I think $25 a month is reasonable.)

As I mentioned in yesterday’s hackneyed post, cricket wants to be watched, and be remembered. The ICC, and the national boards, are depriving cricket of this simple and essential nutrient. A real shame, if you ask me.

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