Rahul Dravid demands cricket revamp
Indian great Rahul Dravid has demanded administrators revamp the ad hoc approach to cricket scheduling or risk being responsible for the game’s demise.
Invited to deliver the annual Sir Donald Bradman Oration for 2011 at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on Wednesday night, Dravid covered a range of issues but spoke strongly about how all three cricketing formats can be improved and preserved.
Dravid said that international cricket must better appreciate its fans, and must recognise that dwindling crowd numbers for Test and ODI matches is a sign that the current approach is broken.
At almost 39, the oldest man currently playing Test cricket described five-day matches as “the gold standard … the form the players want to play.”
He slammed cricketing bodies for the prevalence of meaningless “merry-go-round” tours that in his opinion, mean Test series are often too short and hold no context.
Dravid said if the tradition of five-day cricket is to survive as the pinnacle of the sport, revolutionary concepts like day-night Tests and a Test Championship must be pursued.
“In March of last year I played a day-night first-class game in Abu Dhabi for the MCC – and my experience from that was that day-night Tests is an idea seriously worth exploring,” he told a packed audience in the ANZAC room of the Memorial.
“The visibility and durability of the pink cricket ball was not an issue.
“Similarly, a Test championship with every team and player driving themselves to be winners of a sought after title seems like it would have a context to every game.
“Every Test playing country (should) get its fair share of Tests and playing for a championship or a cup not just a ranking.”
There have been growing calls in cricket circles to scrap the 50-over format altogether, but Dravid said that approach was misguided.
He said one-day cricket was responsible for revolutionising areas of the game like strokeplay and fielding, but many fixtures had been largely pointless since 1995.
Dravid said the regularity in which ODIs are played must be drastically reduced so it returns to being a special event.
“The future may well lie in playing one-day internationals centred around ICC events, like the Champions Trophy and the World Cup. That would ensure that all 50-over matches would build up for those tournaments,” he said.
“Anything makes more sense than a seven-match ODI series.
“The fans have sent us a message and we must listen. Empty stands do not make for good television. Bad television can lead to a fall in ratings, the fall in ratings will be felt by media planners and (have) advertisers looking elsewhere.
“If that happens, it’s hard to see television rights around cricket being as sought after as they have always been in the past 15 years. And where does that leave everyone?
“I’m not trying to be a … doomsday prophet – that is just how I see it.”
Dravid said the overwhelming public support for Twenty20 cricket spoke for itself, but the shortest form should be restricted to “domestic competitions through official leagues which will make it financially attractive for cricketers … and also keep cricket viable in countries where it fights for space and attention.”
Touching on the spot-fixing scandals, Dravid backed Steve Waugh’s call for players to willingly submit to lie-detector tests, so the innocent are cleared and the fight against corruption is boosted.© AAP 2013
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