LONDON - There are 52 weeks in a year, right now the Indian Premier League, Australia’s Big Bash and the Caribbean Premier League occupy about 17 weeks of a year. Cricket South Africa’s new T20 Global League is set to last six weeks.
In two years time the English cricket board hopes to start a T20 League in that country. Let’s say that League also runs for six weeks.that add ups to 29 weeks of the year being taken up by domestic T20 cricket competitions.
That means 23 weeks remain for Tests, ODIs And T20 Internationals and that’s not accounting for years with World Cups, Champions Trophy and World T20s. So what does this all mean for international cricket?
If you heard the MCC World Cricket Committee this week, then there’s a “looming potential crisis,” facing the Test game.
In his address to the committee this week, CSA’s chief executive Haroon Lorgat, highlighted how when the boards of England, Australia and India created a financial model that heavily favoured themselves two years ago, it was imperative for Cricket SA to ensure it secured its own finances.
Cricket SA suffered a painful lesson in 2013 when the Board of Control for Cricket India drastically reduced its tour to SA, costing CSA millions.
Among the proposals the MCC Committee - an advisory body with no legislative powers - will forward to the ICC is for there to be a more equal distribution of funds, to ensure Test cricket doesn’t die in countries like South Africa.
Another proposal from the committee is for the ICC to hastily implement plans for the establishment of a World Test Championships. Context for Test matches is crucial, but the ICC has dragged its feet on this matter.
For the English media, much of the build-up ahead of the four Test series between England and South Africa has been taken up by AB de Villiers’s absence, which is viewed as a sign that top players - especially those not employed by the sport’s wealthiest three boards - would forego the five-day format for more lucrative contracts in T20 Leagues.
Brendon McCullum, a member of the committee, described De Villiers’s absence as a “red flag.”
The onus is on the ICC to show greater strength, but can it?
South Africa’s international season next summer is presently in the balance owing to problems in India and Australia.
The Australian players are in dispute with their board and are currently not contracted, so they’re not playing.
Australia’s senior team is supposed to play a four Test series in SA next February - if the dispute is not resolved, that tour won’t happen.
The Indian team is supposed to play a full tour in December - four Tests, five ODIs and three T20s -but as yet the BCCI has not officially signed off on a schedule.
It has it’s own problems with implementing administrative reforms ordered by the Indian Supreme Court, while it’s also being taken to court by the Pakistan Cricket Board, who want to secure finances from a proposed three Test series that’s supposed to take place before India come to SA.
International cricket’s a mess. It’s no wonder boards like CSA have to ensure their financial well-being by setting up a T20 League. But by doing so, Test cricket loses its primacy. Nevermind a looming, potential crisis...the sport’s got one already.