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Thursday, October 14, 2010

ICC's new move on international cricket - what could have been?

The ICC has completely redrawn the landscape of international cricket few days back - a test championship among many things.
The Future Tours Programme (FTP) will now comprise a Test league running over four years with the top four teams at the end of each period qualifying for a play-off event. The first play-off is scheduled for 2013, the same year England are due to host the Ashes, and Lord's is the favoured venue for the final.
Four years seems to be a long period for the test league - let us consider a scenario of the current Indian test team - they are No.1 and might continue for the next 2 years but in the last 2 years of the league, due to the retirements of the legends, the performance of the team might deteriorate drastically. But, because of their initial performances, they will still qualify for the play-off event. A league cycle of 2 years would be of the right time to give a proper perspective to the League. To do this, I would suggest having a 2-tier system that contains 5 teams each. The top-5 will be part of the 1st tier and play between each other, home and away. Each test series should be a minimum of 3 tests (Ashes usually will have 5 and India-Australia typically has 4) with the UDRS system a mandatory use in the tests. Each team will play the other 4 teams in 2 series in the 2 year cycle - a total of 8 series with a probability of 24 to 30 test matches. This can be easily achieved in 2 years considering that a test series (of 3 matches) can be conducted in 4-5 weeks. This will also reduce the probability of multiple series between same countries repeatedly (like India and Sri Lanka recently).
A one-day cricket league - mirroring the existing team rankings - will also be part of the FTP, starting in April 2011 and running over four years to culminate in the crowning of the first ODI league champion in April 2014. The league will run separately from the World Cup, the ICC's flagship event, which has been reduced to 10 teams for the 2015 tournament. 
Why will it run separately from the World Cup? Why is this league required is not known? Already there is a growing criticism around the world about the validity of ODI matches - is this one way that ICC wanted to give more importance to ODIs? Can the ICC not take more power in their hands and ban all tri-series tournaments like the ones played by India and Sri Lanka (who else). Why these tournaments are conducted is also not known (of course the monetary reasons are visible clearly).

The World Twenty20 event will be expanded to 16 teams from the 2012 tournament, due to be staged in Sri Lanka. The success of smaller nations like Netherlands and Afghanistan in Twenty20 cricket prompted the expansion of the tournament, which will continue to have the women's event played alongside it

This is probably a good decision to promote cricket in many countries but care needs to be taken to ensure that there is not a surfeit of these T20 matches. Of course, one has to plan a window of the domestic tournaments like IPL and Champion League matches.

Overall, some good decisions but a lot confusing ones.What is your take on the announcement from ICC?
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