TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
CRICKET’S players have challenged the game’s administrators to “deliver a clear and compelling future for international cricket, which includes meaningful change to competition structures”.
That gauntlet was thrown in a release on Monday by the Federation International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) at the International Cricket Council (ICC).
“FICA is supportive of improving, and adding context to all three formats of international cricket, ensuring a structure that delivers better clarity and balance between the formats, and one that will address the continued decline in popularity of much of international cricket,” the statement said.
“Cricket needs a new international structure now to allow it to survive and thrive in the future.”
International cricket is under pressure to remain relevant in an era increasingly dominated by franchise-based T20 tournaments that offer players exponentially higher earnings for far less commitment.
“It is clear that there is a groundswell of opinion around the world that the current structure of international cricket is not serving the game globally, and that the status quo is not good enough for the long-term future success of cricket,” Tony Irish, FICA’s executive chairman, was quoted as saying.
“The entire cricket economy, including all professional players, both international and domestic, is highly dependent on international cricket.
“To ensure its survival the game needs to evolve. It has many strengths and its rich history must be protected, but it is time to significantly move the game forward.
“That is not an easy task, but thinking globally, and not based on regional or country interests, is a good place to start.
“We know from our player surveys and our engagement with players that they are facing a conflict between international cricket and domestic T20 cricket leagues.
“This is a fundamental issue that we want any future structure of the game to address.
“Our concern is that if nothing is done international cricket may very soon lose more and more of its best players to free agency and the T20 leagues.”
A two-division league for test cricket has been proposed as part of the solution to the problems.
But that plan faces a potentially insurmountable challenge in the shape of opposition by the powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India.
However it does have the support of AB de Villiers, who said: “We have already raised our intensity and urgency just knowing that a test league might happen.
“There is nothing like the pressure and adrenaline that comes with knowing you need to win matches. It’s time for all international matches to have more meaning.”
Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hassan highlighted the inequalities of the current system: “I have been playing for 10 years and have only played 42 tests.
“If I was from India or England I would have had the opportunity to play double that amount.”
New Zealand stalwart Ross Taylor was worried about what he saw on the horizon: “We need to find ways of keeping our players.
“To survive as a cricket nation we need our top players playing for New Zealand and not retiring early.”