When I first read about the ICC World Test Championship, I was excited. Finally, a tournament fit for the greatest format of all.
A format that pays respect to, and helps preserve the beautiful game of Test match cricket.
Not only would the championship allow the top four teams battle it out for a well earned title, it would set up tantalising outcomes such as an underdog pipping the more fancied rival or a favourite cementing the rights to their crown, all depending on crunch-time performances that a tournament sets up.
But alas, the reports continue to flood in around the failure to attract broadcast and commercial interest around the event.
Scheduled to be hosted by England and Wales in 2017, the ICC is now contemplating continuing with the Champions Trophy instead.
So now, onto the massive elephant in the room and the real reason why the format might likely fail.
The host nation probably won’t make the cut. Having already slipped down to no. 3 in the rankings, a feisty Pakistan is now hot on the heels of England as they begin a rebuilding process after a spanking at the hands of the Aussies.
If I were negotiating television rights, sponsorship deals and the like, I’d be a bit dubious as well. Imagine a cricket tournament where the host nation isn’t actually playing?
Can you imagine how confused the Barmy Army would be? Come to think of it, they will still be supporting England, which is just too wrong to think about.
Moving forward, this host nation scheduling will not work. If only four teams can make the cut, it’s just too risky.
If the host team were to finish fifth or sixth during the qualification period, what a farce it would be to put them in despite of what the established rules dictate.
So, a message to the journalists, cricket bodies and officials: stop pussy footing around the real issue here and come clean about the real reason the sponsors and broadcasters are nervous.
While you are at it, come up with a sensible solution, such as rewarding the hosting of the tournament to the number one qualifying nation – giving them a home ground advantage and majority share of the financial takings.
This also throws down the gauntlet to the visiting Test nations – “if you want to beat us, you can do it in our own backyard”.
This is a challenge we all know is tough with modern Test match cricket.
I for one would love to see this idea realised and hope the ICC administrators can put their heads together to fix a few of these issues.