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Give me my bat and ball back!

by Justin Rourke

Cricket is no different to any sport in that it has chased and received money, and to a large extent the game is better for that money. Sky TV do a lot for the game in general and their coverage is excellent. The IPL has made players global superstars and T20 in general has brought a new audience.

In doing all of this we have lost our way a little, test and first-class cricket have been marginalised for the short, shorter and now even shorter forms of the game. I’m not a fan of T20 I prefer more balance and nuance in my cricket, but I accept it is here to stay. I think we need to look at some really simple changes to let us see more high quality cricket from a full strength team.

Domestic Cricket:

  • Open the English domestic season in April and May with the Vitality T20.
    • This is a great tournament, often the weather is good in the early part of the season.
    • It will dovetail with the IPL – meaning our IPL players can come back and play and/or in-form players can go the other way.
  • The county Championship starts in June and is played to the end of July/early August in the format of the 2021 season.
    • This puts the final in the middle of the summer and allows those not in the final to play some attacking cricket without fear of relegation.
    • Each round should start on a Thursday with the aim of the grounds (out grounds) being full at a weekend).
  • End the season with the Royal London 50 Over cup in August and September.

International Cricket:

  • No IT20 – if the players want the freedom to play the IPL (and other such T20 tournaments) the IT20 games come out of the schedule allowing them to do so.
  • At present England play 7 home tests per year, this is too many. The fact that they have to rest players so often demonstrates this. We must preserve the integrity of test cricket by playing one series in June/July/Early August. Ideally this would be a 5 match series and none of the games would be back to back. It also would be aligned to the County Championship so players know that during that period of time they are only playing FC/test cricket and when injuries/form dictate changes they can select from players playing the correct format.
  • The tests always start on a Wednesday to end on weekend.
  • The start time is 10am (moved forward to 9am if play is lost/over rate slow the prior day).
  • Use the best 5 grounds/pitches in the same order each year.
    • 1st test Lords
    • 2nd Test Edgbaston
    • 3rd Test Old Trafford
    • 4th Test Trent Bridge
    • 5th Test The Oval.
  • A 50 over series is played – maximum 5 games in late August and September
    • Shadowed by the RL Cup
    • Which ensures players are playing the same format as the international team.

It is harder to influence what happens in the winter, but ideally there would be a 5 test series and a 5 ODI series in one country between November and February.

This won’t solve everything, but it will put first class and test cricket at the heart of our game where it should be.

T20 and 50 over cricket are a great way to grow the game, but the quantity is diluting the product. The hard questions need to be answered. If you can’t be competitive, or sell tickets for a 4 or 5 match test series, its probably not for you.

West Indies, Pakistan, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, England, Australia, India – 8 teams. Each play a home and away test series against each other (minimum 4 tests/maximum 5 tests). This would be run in a four-year cycle with a WTC final played each time in the 4th year.

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