Cricket
6 days ago

Shastri wants fewer Test teams, MCC chief backs T20 in changing landscape

First Test - England v India - Trent Bridge, Nottingham, Britain - August 4, 2021 India head coach Ravi Shastri before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
First Test - England v India - Trent Bridge, Nottingham, Britain - August 4, 2021 India head coach Ravi Shastri before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

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Restricting Test cricket to six or seven teams and using the 20-overs format as the vehicle to spread the game were some of the views aired at a symposium organised by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) on Sunday.

Test cricket’s dwindling appeal outside India, England and Australia has coincided with the proliferation of lucrative T20 leagues across the world.

Although Test cricket at the top level still often produces drama, the brevity and action-packed nature of 20-overs cricket has quickly made it the preferred format for the game’s new fans.

Former India player and coach Ravi Shastri said test cricket must remain competitive and the only way to do so was to have only the relatively stronger teams competing in this format.

“When you don’t have quality, that is when the ratings drop, there are fewer people in the crowd, its meaningless cricket, which is the last thing sport wants,” Shastri said at World Cricket Connects, an event at Lord’s hosted by the MCC.

“You have 12 test match teams. Bring it down to six or seven and have promotion and relegation system.

“You can have two tiers but let the top six keep playing to sustain the interest in Test cricket.

“You can spread the game in other formats, like T20,” added the former India coach.

Former Australia batter and coach Justin Langer said while he loved T20 leagues, he wanted international cricket to be protected for the impact in can have on young people.

He cited examples including West Indies fast bowler Shamar Joseph’s memorial debut series in Australia this year.

“...it had Australia enthralled and it brought the Caribbean to life,” Langer said.

“Last week we saw a million people turn up to see India celebrated for winning the World Cup.

“That is bilateral cricket and international cricket.”

Summing up the themes, MCC President Mark Nicholas said the views were not to suggest Test cricket was unwarranted, and that cricket needed money to sustain itself.

“T20 cricket is the behemoth that everybody wants,” he said.

“It is where the new market is, where the fans are and where the money is.

“In cricket, money is seen as a dirty word but it shouldn’t be because it is the only way to sustain the game.”

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