Last month John Buchanan introduced me to Arthur Pagonis, a baseball expert and a cricket enthusiast. We exchanged few thoughts on how cricket can be developed and globalised.
Arthur has some interesting views, which I am pleased to share here.
HOW CRICKET CAN BECOME THE WORLD’S No. 1 SUMMER TEAM SPORT?
Guys and gals who play cricket in Australia are so steeped in the love of the game, the social interaction and the atmosphere that they simply are addicted. Past players and watchers, ditto.
They know it as it is today, and love it just as it is. I can’t argue with that sentiment.
But we are all aware of the changing economic and world dynamics. I’m sure the ICC, CA, the ECB, BCCI and all of the member and associate members have some clear understanding of where the game is going.
It’s just that I wonder how well they communicate it sometimes?
Maybe my skull is too thick and I miss the nuances. But I think the right time is now for an ICC Commission to drive the game. The world’s best professionals guiding cricket and putting in place the road map for its’ future.
No sport is perfect at delivering its’ message clearly, unambiguously. Some are plagued by administrative and player corruption and scandal. There are the usual 1% of suspects willing to torch the sports reputation for financial or other gain.
Cricket administration has always been in-house at the ICC. And the lovers of the game and some professionals run the National Bodies. Those 10 member Nations who have representatives who vote on the processes at the ICC, and all the various Committees are not full time professionals in every case in conducting, running, enhancing, structuring, designing Cricket’s growth in the coming years.
That must surely change.
We are now talking of a sport which potentially enters the living rooms of many billions of people in places such as China, Asia generally, the Americas, Europe, Africa etc.
The Warney/Sachin Tour of the USA was so illuminated in lights that the world now thinks that is what cricket is.
But it isn’t. It is 3 forms of what they saw… so, how will they respond to those intricacies?
So does Cricket need to streamline its’ product right away to capitalise on becoming potentially the no. 1 Team Summer Sport on the planet?
Is it logical to just drop Test Cricket and 50 over games for instance and simply play what the new fans saw on the Warney Travelcade?
Or is it feasible that we could maintain the 3 forms in some “abridged” versions to cater to the power and potential of many millions who will want to watch or play in days and years to come?
I’m sure we all understand the game now as we know it. Largely, that is 5 Day Tests, 50 over ODIs and T20 matches.
We are experimenting with Day/Night. We are experimenting with red, white and pink balls and 2 balls per innings in some forms of cricket. We have made some rapid gains via these new ideas.
I’ve always felt that Cricket Administrators have been a little too protective of Tradition and the Players, and a lot less protective of their watching audience. No game of sport these days for instance tolerates a draw easily. It leaves fans and players with an empty feeling.
And I can understand that they want to retain the basic tenets of the game. But as society becomes more and more time managed, so cricket must adjust.
There is an audience for Test Cricket. It seems to be okay in some countries but faltering in most Member Nations. Still, it is a product, it does have an audience, television and Internet audience ratings can be quantified….and seemingly the major networks covering cricket worldwide do not mind if the ground is only one-tenth full.
They’re much happier if the ground IS full I’m sure because it confirms that they are backing a winner, but seemingly they are just as comfortable with their numbers in the Home Entertainment Ratings.
If that is the case, and cricket becomes a Television and Internet market almost exclusively, then Test Cricket is fine as it is.
But if, as I think, the Test audience dwindles away because of cost factors or sunburn or boredom or dissatisfaction with the actual product, aren’t we likely to see an overall drop-off due to saturation of the 3 forms.
The attractiveness of each form seems to ebb and flow in the minds of administrators, and the public.
I have written continuously about the hope that cricket would embrace gradual time/over reductions to Test and ODI’s to accommodate the watching audience.
Not to hurt Traditionalists, but to encourage New Gen. Cricket followers.
So things like a World Cricket League (WCL) played annually using 3 forms of the game. Those 3 forms would be all incorporate Day/Night and 3 different coloured balls initially and all forms would have Overs Limitation for each innings.
Domestically, in Associate Nations, I would like to see the competitions in each country start with a minimum of 1, max of 2 forms of cricket, and hopefully play the 3rd and longest form in due course. Again D/N, coloured balls, over limitations would be maintained.
So Member Nations would play in the WCL. Tests could be 4 days/innings of 80 overs, D/N. ODI’s could be 40 overs per innings, D/N. T20 as is.
Member Nations Domestic Competitions could eventually be 2 day/innings of 80 overs, D/N plus the above ODI and T20 for uniformity. Initially, the longer Domestic Versions might be 4 day/innings, but I think eventually that will be too time hazardous.
If I were the ICC Commission, I’d only make these time and over concessions I am suggesting on the basis that I would like to encourage all new children, parents, spectators, new players generally to see clearly that Cricket is willing to move for their enjoyment, and to help them with the day to day time constraints they have. It would be an amazing PR win with the public.
In this way, the ICC Commission could gradually phase in the new changes. It does not need to abandon its’ past entirely, just gradually phase in the changes and monitor the 3 new forms of the game to see how it is tracking as regards live and televised and internet audiences.
Gradual Progression, communicating the changes, surveying the players and the viewers…..these are the tools for the ICC Commission to embrace.
The game is ripe for some tightening up, some shaking up, and not just for the players or bowler’s benefit. It is the viewing audience at home and at the ground which needs to be consulted, as well as the players. Cricket Australia has the ideal vehicle to test the views of all cricket followers. Their website. The range of questions in a survey would be easy to frame. The same questions could be asked of the 200 or so contracted players at CA. Are International Cricketers overworked, Day/Night for all International cricket, 80 over Test innings, 40 over ODIs, more grass on wickets, replacements for injured players, World Cricket League…the list can be somewhat limited, but the questions are critical.
Cricket has to do better than it is if it wants to be perceived as anything other than an elite, tied-to-the-past sport who doesn’t care what people think. The forming of an independent ICC Commission with a worldly view of how a sport moves down the entertainment highway must take place now!
Here is Arthur’s credentials :
AUSTRALIA GLOBAL TRADING P/L
10 HERTZ WAY, MORLEY, W.A. 6062
SKYPE: apagonis2 WEB: www.ausglobaltrading.com
We also had a dialogue on new venture cricket is marching into- viz Test matches played in night with pink ball!.