Bangladesh needs to embrace T20
With IPL around the corner as well as the T20 world cup and the future of the Bangladesh National Team, I thought I’d open this topic up for a full on discussion on the future of cricket and T20 vs. Test in particular. Before anybody starts bashing me for supporting T20, note that I am not a newcomer to Cricket and in fact I grew up in Australia during my early years in the late 70s/early 80s during the Packer revolution. I remember my dad and older brother coming to terms with One Day cricket as it was not ‘real test cricket’.
Whether you like it or not, cricket requires money to survive and hence is a business. Decisions need to be made to generate money. Test cricket for the past couple of decades has survived on the revenue brought in by the limited over game. Now with times changing and people having less and less time to spend on sports (barring us who choose to blog during work hours), the T20 format has been introduced. As skeptical as I was initially, I have come to embrace the format and look forward to it being the flagbearer to break cricket globally and into the future.
For the Bangladeshi fans fearing that T20 engagements will damage our Test playing ability, please consider the following:
• Bangladesh was granted test status not because we were qualified to compete but because ICC sought to expand cricket and felt that after Zimbabwe, we were the next in line. The 99 win against Pakistan helped secure that
• Zimbabwe and Bangladesh both gained test status as a result of their ODI success
• Had Bangladesh performed competitively since becoming a test nation, I am pretty certain that Kenya and Ireland due to their performance in 2003 and 2007 world cups respectively would now be being considered for test cricket
• For every Multan, Fattullah and recent scares to NZ and SL, we have numerous innings defeats
This is not to put down our national team but just to keep things in perspective. We have come a long way since 2000 in test cricket but our growth rate is nowhere compared to how the other 8 nations have improved.
ICC needs to make a decision on Test cricket. The current bi-lateral format is running its course. England plays every series to prepare for the Ashes. Winning the Ashes is considered success even if it comes at the expense of losing all other series’ and vice versa. Australia plays hard only to protect their top spot and complain about ‘too much cricket’ when playing anyone other than SA, ENG and IND. India doesn’t’ care to invite us over for a series as there is no money involved there. So now if we are to believe that Test cricket should continue on how do we go from here? Adding another test team (or when Zimbabwe returns) will only clutter the schedule that much more. There needs to be a solution where every game matters.
My suggestion is simple. Create a 30 month FTP (2 and a half years) where the 10 teams are split into two leagues. Teams ranked #1 to #5 play each other in a home and away 3 test series as does #6 to #10. Until Zimbabwe returns, Kenya can take their slot. At the end of the series’, the team coming in last in the top tier will be demoted and the top team in the 2nd tier will be promoted. The team coming in 4th in the top tier will play a three test series against the runner up in the 2nd tier to prevent demotion. The top two teams will play a 5 test series to determine the championship crown. The higher seeds in each instance gets the home advantage. If the boards wish to add in additional test matches, that is their prerogative but will not be considered part of the Test championship. This will create more competitive series’ and every test will begin to matter. Countries like Bangladesh will get a shot at those not playing well (currently NZ, WI (exception being the last match against ENG)) instead of not getting that chance because of the current FTP. If the popularity of test cricket increases, there can be a 3rd tier with the associate nations having the same delegation/promotion formula to Tier 2.
As far as T20, it needs to be nurtured and marketed as the future of cricket. I wish ICC had taken the IPL concept for the national teams and created a home away annual league for a world championship every year. T20 will eventually get cricket into Olympics and will raise the money to keep Tests and 50 over ODIs alive.
T20 is a different game and it will breed a different style of athletes. There are those who are gifted in athletics and can compete in the 100m, 200m and 400m dash and others that chose to specialize in only a specific event. Cricket can be the same. There is no clause that we have to see the same set of players in every single format. I don’t think the champions trophy is likely to succeed because at the end of the day it will be the same group of international players playing on different teams and different leagues.
I hope BCB realizes the future in T20 and puts us in the forefront. At least in the T20 we are among the top 8 and that gives us an easier path to the 2nd round in the World cup based on the format that exists today. I’m not saying we lose focus on test and ODI, just merely embrace T20 and recognize it as a viable format and try to capitalize on being on the forefront of it.