The ICC needs to work out an international cricketing schedule

Matt Davies Roar Rookie

By Matt Davies, Matt Davies is a Roar Rookie

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    The cricketing world was recently shocked by the sudden retirement of AB de Villiers, at what seemed to be the peak of his career. His explanation was simple – he is tired.

    Why a premier player burned out at a relatively young age playing what is not exactly an endurance sport is worth considering.

    De Villiers is not alone in this either. Virat Kohli said in an interview in March this year that non-stop cricket is beginning to take a toll on his body. Steve Smith said after the Ashes and England ODI series that he was so tired that he did not want to lift a bat.

    And these are batsmen, on whom the game extracts a lesser toll than fast bowlers.

    The fact is that with three formats, numerous bilateral series, World Cups in different formats and global T20 leagues, cricket has become one of the most chaotic sports from a scheduling perspective.

    Financial considerations for individual boards and the ICC seem to have overridden good sense – how else to explain two T20 World Cups that will be held in 2020 and 2021 – the space of a year? One year after the ODI World Cup in 2019 – it almost seems as if the ICC wants to schedule a global tournament every year.

    The mushrooming of several T20 leagues around the world has added to the woes. Apart from the big ones – the IPL and the BBL – there are leagues in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, UAE (apparently several) and now even Canada!

    As if it were not chaotic enough, the ECB is now planning to introduce a fourth format for cricket – the Hundred!

    While the leagues are money spinners for their respective boards, they have added an increased workload on players. For many, playing in the leagues is more lucrative than national contracts. This has led to an ‘each player for himself’ regime – where individual players pick and choose how many and which leagues they will play for, and how they will accommodate them with their national commitments.

    While some players choose smartly and accommodate rest periods, many sign up for all tournaments they can – this is understandable, since the career span of a professional sportsperson is relatively short and they want to earn as much as they can while they can.

    However, by over-working their bodies, they are shortening their playing years and having a detrimental effect on their earning potential.

    Interspersed with all the leagues is a plethora of bilateral series, several of which are meaningless except for the purpose of earning revenue for the respective boards.

    While some of these bilateral series include Test matches, many of them are ODIs and T20s – highly forgettable in the surfeit of cricket that is already being served up.

    Adding to the jumble is the fact that, because the individual boards schedule the bilateral series purely for financial reasons, some teams are in high demand and their players are overworked while nobody wants to play the others. The individual boards are being short-sighted in not recognising that an overdose of cricket among the same four or five teams will bore and eventually turn off their viewers.

    Into this pre-existing mess, the ICC now wants to add a World Test Championship, in which all teams will have to play two Test series (one home and one away) against six other ICC members that have Test status, within a span of two years.

    That’s 27 Test series that need to be scheduled within two years. How exactly will this be achieved?

    Few other sports have so many formats and so many tournaments – football has several leagues, but the international games are limited to big events such as the World Cup, the Euro Cup or the Olympics. Baseball in the USA is highly organised and so is basketball.

    In order to organise the various events in a smooth manner and to provide the players with clarity, the ICC and individual boards need to work out a definitive schedule which all member countries abide by. Some suggestions are below:

    1. The T20 leagues must be graded into A-League and B-leagues. Two months in the summer and two months in the winter are blocked out for T20 league games and all the A-Leagues have to be scheduled during this time. This will make the players choose which leagues they wish to play for and ensure that manage their workload sensibly. No international tournaments will be scheduled during these months.

    2. B-league matches can be scheduled at any time but players on national contracts for international matches cannot feature.

    3. One or two months of the year are blocked for the annual World Cup (ODI/T20).

    4. Two Test series per month need to be scheduled in the remaining months in order to meet the target of the World Test Championship. Most likely every team will have to play a series once every two months – a reasonable time frame considering that some series, like the Ashes and the India-Australia series, involve five matches.

    5. Every team must play at least one Test match with and hosted by an Associate nation every year.

    6. All players must have mandatory one-month rest during the year.

    Unless the ICC gets its act together in working out a reasonable schedule, accommodating all three formats, players will be forced to choose which formats they want to play and whether they even want to play in their national side.

    Considering the significant financial incentive offered by T20, it might become an obvious choice, to the detriment of Test and international cricket.

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    The Crowd Says (20)

    • Roar Guru

      June 6th 2018 @ 9:47am
      JamesH said | June 6th 2018 @ 9:47am | ! Report

      Some interesting ideas there.

      Are you suggesting that there are no international limited overs matches outside the World Cups? I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad option, given how meaningless the bilateral series have become, but we’d need to have an ODI tournament and a T20I tournament every year.

      Imagine that – 2 months of the year dedicated to limited overs international tournaments, 4 for T20 A-league tournaments (presumably in India, Aus and Eng), 1 month’s rest and 5 months dedicated to test cricket.

      Still sounds pretty hectic, but at least teams could plan around the schedule instead of making things up as they go.

      • June 6th 2018 @ 2:25pm
        Matt Davies said | June 6th 2018 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

        That could be an option also and to be honest, I thought about it. I just think it might be very difficult to schedule a multitude of ODI tournaments within a 1 month span unless it is a multi-nation tournament like a World Cup. To be honest, I do not understand the purpose of several of the ODI tournaments that we play now. If its absolutely necessary that we play them, then your suggestion makes sense. However, it will probably be a logistical nightmare with teams travelling to and fro. The current system of scheduling them around the Test series is probably the most optimal.

    • June 6th 2018 @ 2:10pm
      Paul said | June 6th 2018 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

      It makes no sense to me that domestic T20 cricket games can dictate when Australia plays Test cricket. I get that it’s a revenue raiser for now, but to completely ignore international cricket for the sake of a few guys making bucket loads of money is plain wrong, especially when a lot of the guys making money are retired! I can just see Sutherland saying in a press conference ” Sorry, the Boxing Day Test has been cancelled in favour of BBL season featuring current Australian players like Mitchell Johnston, Shane Watson, AB De Villiers and Chris Gayle”.

      The basic idea of Boards coming up with an international schedule already happens now. The problem is, it’s not locked into place, so guys like Sutherland can cancel a tour simply because they choose to. This needs to be made more rigid with countries not being able to change things simply because they don’t like it. Above all, international cricket must come first and T20 Leagues a distant second.

      The ICC also can’t let countries like India and Australia dictate terms simply because they get a heap of cash from their domestic T20 games. If that happens, players will make a name for themselves around the cricket world, then retire to play T20 domestic leagues. That’s already starting to happen.

    • June 6th 2018 @ 2:37pm
      Matt Davies said | June 6th 2018 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

      Like it or not, professional sport is driven by revenue. Considering that the T20 leagues make tons of money, they are a reality we have to live with. My suggestion is in fact to avoid the kind of situation you pinpoint – a T20 league clashing with the Boxing Day Test. It is also true that not all international cricket is meaningful or relevant. I believe that Boards and the ICC will need to work out a reasonable schedule that accommodates the most important events and ditches the irrelevant ones.

      Player workloads are also important to the consideration. The players most often give up options of other careers to play professional sport and once they reach the highest levels, they look to make as much money as they can and justifiably so. It will be hard to completely prevent them from playing highly paying leagues and will probably result in dissatisfaction. The boards need to make a reasonable effort at managing their expectations and their workloads. In this context, the BCCI preventing the Indian players is probably a good thing for them. While the BCCI does it for selfish motives, it does help in limiting the workloads of already over-worked players.

      • June 6th 2018 @ 4:48pm
        Paul said | June 6th 2018 @ 4:48pm | ! Report

        Matt, not all cricket revenue comes from domestic T20 cricket either.

        My point is, international cricket, and by that I’m talking about meaningful cricket games/series, must take precedence over domestic T20. Giving up 2 months so players can play a maximum of 10 games lasting 3 hours, so a few guys can make a lot of money is plain crazy – especially if you do this twice a year as you’re suggesting

        • June 6th 2018 @ 5:43pm
          JayG said | June 6th 2018 @ 5:43pm | ! Report

          Paul, but T20 leagues are already here – I am not sure the genie can be put back into the bottle. Forbidding players from playing the leagues may force several of them to choose to play the leagues and abandon international cricket altogether. Fact is, except for the top players, the remuneration players receive from IPL and BBL for playing 2-3 months of cricket is higher than what they would receive for a year under contracts of any international board. Rinse and repeat across the multitude of other leagues and you have taken away incentive to play international cricket at all. I feel that by accommodating both the leagues and international cricket, we do not force players to choose.

          • June 7th 2018 @ 8:20am
            Paul said | June 7th 2018 @ 8:20am | ! Report

            JayG, I see your point but I think you’re missing mine. A total of 13 Australians were in the hunt for a game, not including Smith and Warner. Of these, Lynn, Shane Watson, Mitch Johnson, James Faulkner and Ben McDermott were not in any of the Australan sides. According to this article, we should not allow ANY international cricket while these 10 guys are making money on top of of the contracts they already have at State or CA level? What about the blokes who aren’t playing IPL but could be playing internationals and earning money?

            Once again, it makes no sense to allow a few blokes to make a few quid and not allow internationals to be played at the same time, especially when the bulk of the players are on six figure contracts with CA.

    • June 6th 2018 @ 3:57pm
      Clyde said | June 6th 2018 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

      The ICC does not exist anymore. It was killed by the so called big 3 who in turn killed test cricket because of their exceptionalism and greed. So thanks to the big 3 all other cricket nations will now only focus on T20 and some ODI to pay the bills.

    • June 6th 2018 @ 4:13pm
      jimbo said | June 6th 2018 @ 4:13pm | ! Report

      this may be contentious.. but ive always thought one potential way to fix cricket is a.) prodigiously upgrade the ball and b.) amalgamate 50 over and 20 over cricket into a 30 over hybrid i.e. lose the boring middle overs of one day cricket (which no one likes anyway) and give T20 cricket more substance at the same time…

      i dont remember hearing about scheduling difficulties in international cricket until we tried to juggle 3 differing formats of the game…

      Food for thought…

    • Roar Rookie

      June 6th 2018 @ 6:35pm
      savage said | June 6th 2018 @ 6:35pm | ! Report

      Good article.

      I think players especially those who plays 2 or more formats for their country shouldn’t be allowed to play more than 1 foreign league apart from their own league.

      • Roar Rookie

        June 6th 2018 @ 7:40pm
        Pedro The Fisherman said | June 6th 2018 @ 7:40pm | ! Report

        Restraint of Trade?

        • Roar Rookie

          June 6th 2018 @ 8:05pm
          savage said | June 6th 2018 @ 8:05pm | ! Report

        • June 7th 2018 @ 2:30am
          Matt Davies said | June 7th 2018 @ 2:30am | ! Report

          While I am no lawyer, I believe that in theory, yes, they might run afoul of restraint of trade laws if they try to stop players from playing other leagues. I do believe, however, that they will be within their rights to drop these players from the international side for unexplained reasons.

          • Roar Rookie

            June 7th 2018 @ 10:52am
            Pedro The Fisherman said | June 7th 2018 @ 10:52am | ! Report

            I’m no lawyer either (obviously) but I foresee issues associated with your proposed yet unexplained controlling nature of the employers and the likely resentment and failure to perform by the players (leading to the sacking of the coach and administrators and an end to that controlling nature). Now where and when have I seen that type of outcome before?
            Faced with a choice between making many millions and playing for your country there are 2 choices. You could even base your choice on the choices made by others (maybe react like a West Indian).

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