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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Test Cricket needs two divisions

The recent one-sided results in international cricket showed that international cricket has to be reorganized so that interest remains, let it be test cricket or ODI or even Twenty20. Sri Lanka defeated Zimbabwe by 9 wickets after dismissing them for a sub-70 score. Bangladesh was defeated by South Africa by more than an innings and 100 runs. Pakistan thumped West Indies 3-0 in the ODI series recently.

These matches do nothing more than inflate the statistics of the higher-ranked countries. Ajantha Mendis proved to be more than a handful for even a country like India (well-known for their spin-playing talents). Imagine what would happen when he plays against the lower-ranked Zimbabwe. Is an Indian victim for him the same as a Zimbabwe wicket? Obviously on paper, it is. But, the value of the wickets are definitely not the same. The effort that goes into getting the wickets is also incomparable. Similarly, the century that Greame Smith scored against Bangladesh would not give him the same satisfaction that would give him if he scored against Australia in the upcoming tour.

The presence of these countries will deflate the figures of the bowlers/batsmen to such an extent that they look very impressive, especially when compared to the greats who had to contend against high-quality opposition in their times. Then why are these countries still playing? Obviously, it has to do with ICC politics - that is complicated enough for discussions on another rainy day.

Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and West Indies should be made to play a second division for the next 1 year. Based on the performances and results in these matches, decision can be made on whether these countries can play the other countries. Of course, a quantitative framework has to be arrived at, to ensure that there is no bias in the assessment. International Cricket definitely cannot go on the way it exists today.
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