Ian Chappell – Cricket’s administrators seem bent on pushing Test cricket to the margins

Stokes said England should be more attacking. Despite the failure of the technique under Joe Root’s dubious leadership, it was a positive team attitude that England usually lacked.

It foreshadowed what future players and fans might miss if the words of ICC president Greg Barclay prove prophetic. In an interview earlier this month, Barclay said “there’s not much we can do” when asked about the rapid expansion of T20 competitions around the world.

In explaining his theory, Barclay assumed that bilateral cricket would suffer from the popularity of T20. This is both an indifferent and a financial view of more than a balance sheet: if T20 cricket thrives, administrators say it’s the longer forms of the game that should automatically suffer.

This underlines the major problem with most cricket managers – they largely pay lip service to the opinions of current and retired players. To evolve with a positive purpose, cricket administrations should work closely with FICA, the umbrella body of the international players’ associations, but they don’t. Disturbingly, India, by far the largest cricket country, does not even have a players’ association.

When Australia’s female captain, Meg Lanning, refuted Barclay’s statement, she said: “We want to be ambitious.” Cricket administrations are anything but ambitious; they slavishly follow the money trail and often shun moves that can be made for the sake of the game.

Long ago, the administrators of cricket should have organized an inclusive debate so that the game was well planned for its future. Playing the game always depends on current players and fans, not the older variant. If the modern version of Test Cricket includes fewer game days and a more attacking approach, to provide entertainment, then the older brigade shouldn’t be crying and whining.

For administrators, if T20 cricket thrives, the longer forms of the game should automatically suffer. This is both an indifferent and financial view

Cricket should offer the public a variety of styles so that fans have a choice. However, the players also need to have a say in which type of cricket provides the best entertainment, and then it is up to the managers to sell each product well.

Top level cricket is a professional game, but it is still played in a very amateurish way. The foundation of cricket administration often rests on platforms that are tired of age. The game has long been a reactive, reflexive product that relies heavily on the media, and the fans generally receive the type of game that people prefer.

This has led administrators to program more and more T20 cricket, squeezing the longer formats, of course. All this despite many young cricketers saying publicly that Test cricket is the pinnacle, and that many fans are spectacularly enjoying the deeds of the more enterprising players.

Test and 50-over cricket are both very good games, entertaining when played well. Rather than spend time with cricketers trying to figure out the best way to present their products, administrators have responded with financial interests first.

Consequently, there’s more T20 cricket, more emphasis on power, along with a ridiculous combination of better bats and shorter limits. Often bowlers are an afterthought, pretty much left to “try and find out”.

If people like Barclay get their way, more T20 cricket will be programmed. If that happens, it means that young players will eventually be pretty much forced to pick a technique that will yield a lucrative T20 contract rather than aim for a solid all-round game.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is a columnist

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