Home > Cricket Development > Maybe ODIs and First class should not be the first step …

Maybe ODIs and First class should not be the first step …

Realistically speaking, not many, if any, will be able to create a viable First Class structure at this point in time. A first class structure requires a lot of domestic level cricketers to be at professional or semi professional level. Most associates are having trouble with professionalizing the national squad ! Also, nothing beats playing numbers, which automatically brings up the raw talent. What gets playing numbers high, more than a first class structure, is a following for the game, or a following for the national team. Just take a look at how many cricketers in the current Ireland u19 team have Ireland beating Pakistan as their favorite cricketing memory?

No doubt first class structure is very important, but first, lets see if the associate can produce the players who are able to play 25 balls against a big test side. Then you can see if they can play 60 balls, and eventually 150+ balls. If the associates cannot even stand firm in a T20 game against the test side due to a serious gap is basic bat on ball skill level, it is unlikely that they will improve too much by having a first class structure.

ICC’s FTP should fundamentally be just tour based (rather than test based), involving all the 10 test and 6 associate countries. At minimum the Full member has to give 3 T20 to the touring side. The rest is upto them. If they feel that an associate can compete in an ODI that they can sell to their broadcasters, then the host test country would be free to convert the T20 into an ODI. Just the minimum required would be this. If Bangladesh and Zimbabwe play 2 of these series, either hosting or touring,  then that leaves the rest of the test teams to play just one such series in the year to give every associate 2 of these series every year.

ODIs are a tougher proposition than T20. Full members have to sell the broadcasting rights and also the tickets to their events, and in most cases than not, the associates have not really been able to match up. Once in a while they can, but not for a full series. T20 is a different game. The top associates can be quite competitive. If given a regular season and dosage of games, they can build their own product around that for financial income. A series of 3 T20 games will not be more than a week long tour. It is quite certain India will not be hosting any associate for 3 ODI series in India, but they might be more open to hosting them for a 3 T20 game series. If Ireland or Netherlands consistently beat Full Members in T20, the full member might be more inclined to start giving them full ODI series, as the public can start thinking of a longer game against the associate as not just being a one sided run bash. But for Ireland or Netherlands to consistently beat full members at T20, they need a structured way in which they will play them in T20, every year.

Of course all of this is expected to increase the awareness and following of the sport in the associate country.

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Categories: Cricket Development
  1. Chris
    January 19, 2010 at 8:28 am

    I agree with your assessment about having a more tour based FTP which would allow for more T20s and allow for the variance of broadcaster and spectator interest in T20s against associates/affiliates as opposed to ODIs against associates/affiliates.

    One other benefit which you missed though would be the additional revenue generated. With 16 teams playing 3 T20s against each other it would allow fans a lot of variety (so they wouldn’t see India v Sri Lanka for the hundredth time in 2 months or South Africa v Australia for who knows how many times). This should lead to more revenue for all 16 boards so that the rich full members (England, Australia, India and South Africa) could make even more money and the more cash-strapped full member boards (Pakistan, West Indies, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe) could get the kind of funds need to push their domestic cricket programs further, whilst the associate and affiliate boards (Ireland, Kenya, Afghanistan, Scotland, Canada and the Netherlands) would finally start to earn their own money (instead of constantly asking for handouts) and get to use this money (hopefully) in beneficial ways.

    It should also increase interest in the associate and affiliate countries such that when full member teams or other associate/affiliate member teams visit then the crowd turnout would be good – which in turn would make their cricket more attractive to broadcasters and sponsors and that in turn would make it easier to professionalize the sport.

    Too often recently I’ve seen complaints and suggestions which seem to suggest many people are trying to put the cart before the horse and professionalize cricket outside the test world when there really isn’t the base to support it. For the life of me, I can’t understand why there seems to be so much emphasis on getting central contracts and having professional domestic teams when that really isn’t a necessity for the progess of the sport.

    It really isn’t. A lot of associate and affiliate cricket today is in the same stage as cricket was for the full members in the 1900s-1960s/1970s. Back then a number of cricketers played test cricket but held other jobs. They got time off to play cricket (for cash) from their employers due to the prevailing cricketing culture (so the employers would not only give the players time off, but give other workers time off to watch the matches and the employers themselves would go to watch). Nowadays that isn’t the case as businesses started to focus more on the bottomline and don’t give that kind of time off as readily anymore. Luckily that coincided with full member cricket’s complete professionalization.

    However associate and affiliate members can still progress, even in this kind of unsympathetic business environment but only if the players realize that they can’t expect their boards to live beyond their means. If domestic matches aren’t drawing in crowds in the low thousands or even hundreds and such matches aren’t being widely listened to on radio or watched on television then it is impractical to expect some kind of contract with anything more than a token stipend because boards don’t print money.

    And time isn’t really as much a problem as some make it out to be. After all, the minimum requirement for first-class cricket is a match lasting 3 days. There is no minimum requirement on the amount of teams playing to constitute a first-class tournament (well other than the obvious number of 2, but what I mean is that the ICC doesn’t impose a minimum limit on the number of teams participating so that each match can be adjudged as being first-class).

    So if say the top associate/affiliate nations like Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands, Kenya, Nepal, Malaysia, (I would say Afghanistan but they have a lot of issues other than time and players to overcome before they could even have domestic first-class cricket), etc used 3 domestic teams each in single round-robin tournaments of 3-day matches then that would require no more than 3 matches. If matches are held Friday to Sunday then surely 33 players in the country could get 2 Fridays off each out of the entire year to play their 2 first-class matches for their teams. I know it would be possible since even more than 33 players must get time during the week (including Fridays) to play 50-over matches in Ireland’s bloated senior cup (unless they are skipping work on those days).

    Doing something like that would present the foundation for further growth as teams would then have a core of about 33-50 players who have experience of batting for more than 50 overs and bowling for more than just 10 overs per match. This would shore up the numbers and help those teams to become more competitive and to remain competitve. Take for instance Ireland; they had a really competitive 2007 World Cup squad, but when some or most of that squad couldn’t make it to the 3 match ODI series in Bangladesh the Irish team were soundly and convincingly whitewashed. Now in 2010 out of that 2007 World Cup squad we’ve had Jeremy Bray, Kyle McCallan, Paul Mooney, Peter Gillespie, Dave Langford-Smith have all retired, Eoin Morgan has switched to England (following another promising Irish player, Ed Joyce) and Boyd Rankin may well switch to England as well having been called up in a ECB development squad (plus he now has an injury).

    They can’t be having 6 or even 7 players out of their main squad of 15 being lost to them and expect to remain as competitive as they were in 2007. They have Trent Johnson who will be around 36 or 37 years old by the time of the 2011 world cup and Andre Botha who will be around 35. Out of the current U-19 squad only Andrew Balbirnie seems to be making any real splashes in terms of performance. Others do okay, but not well enough to make one feel confident that the experience of 2007 would be repeated.

    All of this underlines the fact that too many associate teams rely on too few players. Give a slightly larger pool of players the kind of experience necessary to make them better players through patience and experience and these teams may become more competitive and more attractive. And it doesn’t require a lot of money or even professional domestic cricket – not even Sri Lanka or Zimbabwe or Bangladesh had truly professional domestic set-ups before they became full members as far as I know and all 3 of them definitely had 3-day domestic cricket (in the case of Sri Lanka it was also first-class cricket).

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