Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Former England captain Andrew Strauss has admitted that he is concerned about the future of Test cricket and believes that Twenty20 cricket will dominate the sport within the next 20 years.
Strauss is also worried about the increasing influence the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket Australia are having on the game.
More of Strauss’ views about the longest format of the game can be found in an updated paperback edition of his autobiography, Driving Ambition, which was published four days ago.
“India can argue that they bring the most money into the game, and thus deserve more out of the precious ICC broadcasting rights, but skewing the distribution of the three boards that are already the most financially secure can only create a situation in which the rich get richer and the poor poorer,” Strauss wrote. “With only ten teams playing Test cricket and four of those already struggling to stay competitive, the risk of the game degenerating to the extent that the result of many Test series is a foregone conclusion is both high and real.
“I have to admit that I become more and more concerned about the plight of Test cricket every year,” Strauss admits. “Watching a Test match between the West Indies and New Zealand in an empty stadium with no more than a handful of spectators in attendance sends out warning signals. Seeing that the viewing figures for a county Twenty20 game rival those for a Test match adds to the growing perception that Test cricket is in crisis.
“Part of the new ICC restructure provides a Test fund so that some of the smaller nations can play each other in Test series even though they aren’t financially viable. While I definitely welcome this news, I can’t help feeling that we have already reached the tipping point as far as Test cricket is concerned.
“The teams will keep playing each other over the next eight years, but aside from iconic series like the Ashes or England v India, I fear that the game is slowly going to fizzle out as a mainstream attraction, especially away from the ‘big three’ nations.
“It is too late to turn the tide, especially with the glitz and glamour of Twenty20 cricket managing to gain more and more traction every year.”
Strauss also fears that the International Cricket Council (ICC) will soon be powerless to stop the ever-growing popularity of domestic Twenty20 tournaments like the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Big Bash League (BBL).
“It is not a huge stretch of the imagination to see a situation in which most players will be contracted to franchises and play the majority of their cricket in the Twenty20 format,” Strauss wrote. “It will not happen for a while , as the international boards will do everything in their power to prevent it, but market forces are likely to win the battle in the long term. In twenty years, the game of cricket will look very different.”