Where would we be without sports commentators? Somewhere happy and peaceful? Perhaps.
For some days I have been contemplating the decision of Bangladesh Cricket Board, which was followed by BCCI and the Sri Lankan Cricket Board, to oppose the proposed two-tier league by the International Cricket Council.
Much of the excuse was inevitably because it would mean the Bangladesh, like Zimbabawe and perhaps even the West Indies would be relegated to the second league. As for the other top countries they can still survive at the top, for the time being.
Empty crowds are far too often seen in South Africa, West Indies, Zimbabwe and some times even in Sri Lanka, clearly indicating the interest for Test cricket is dropping even in the better Test-playing countries.
Even the crowd attraction in India has dropped as well, especially in the northern part, as other sports are like kabaddi and hockey are dominating all season. Unlike the IPL or any other shorter version games, Test cricket viewership has dropped.
At this point, ICC introduces quite a number of flexible, innovative strategies to combat the dwindling viewership numbers. It is still expected there would be a Champions Trophy for the top eight Test teams in late 2017 and pink-ball ‘Day-Night’ Test trials are being held.
The third move they brought in was the proposal of a two-tier league.
The first tier would have seven teams ranked from one to seven and the second a five-team league which could be expanded if situation arises where there is more competition between the lower, associate teams.
If West indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabawe suffer the drop they would potentially be joined by Ireland and Afghanistan.
The final draft would be comprising the next seven teams who would be given Test cricket status.
There are currently 105 countries playing the game in the shorter T-20 version. The ICC hopes to bring in a third of them to play 50-over game and finally rank-wise give 18 countries Test cricket status (including the ones that currently play).
As per the thumbnail sketch of the proposal, two teams would be relegated every year from each league. One from the next lower league getting direct qualification and a play-off would be played between the next-ranked team in the lower league and the second-bottom team from the previous tier.
Not only will it bring even competition on display, but at the same time, prevent hapless teams like the Windies Test team from getting battered in under three days. Rather than seeing the same West Indies team, we can also see more of Ireland and Afghanistan in the higher leagues, gaining some experience from the top teams.
As Richardson put it, “They will all be striving for something. There’s something at stake”, which is exactly why this two-tier system is one step better.