When I was a kid, my mother would tell me that everything in moderation would lead to a happy life. Too much of a good thing really is, too much of a good thing.
I wish the ICC could have heard my mother all those years ago, after their recent decision to contemplate holding the World Twenty20 Tournament every two years. They’ve been blind sided by the money and TV ratings that this juggernaut has created. They want fast cash and massive exposure at the expense of the traditional core of the game. And the players, have followed their lead.
Yes, the game appeals to the younger generation. Yes, it creates plenty of interest and revenue from sponsors and the like around the world. And yes, I agree sometimes there can be some tantalising, if not unbelievable cricket on display.
Isn’t this reason enough not to host a tournament like this so regularly? What happens when we stop being so amazed by these great cricketing shots and blown away by what these athletes are doing on the cricket pitch? We live in a world where we always want that little bit more. I fear there will come a day where the game stops giving us that buzz. The more Twenty20 tournaments that are held, the sooner this level of burnout will occur.
Twenty20 is saturating the market. From Australia’s Big Bash League, India’s Indian Premier League, Pakistan’s Super League and the T20 Blast in England, this form of the game is always on somewhere around the world. If you want to get your Twenty20 fix, there are plenty of tournaments in which to sink the teeth into.
So why is it that on top of all that, every other year we are going to be served up the same players in a World Twenty20 tournament? I know, money is the simple answer to that question. But what is the game really giving up for that coin?
Test cricket is rapidly fighting a losing battle. Like a shy kid in the corner, it sits there plodding along without being given much attention. We need to be encouraging the minnow nations like Bangladesh and Afghanistan to be developing Test cricketers as well as Twenty20 specialists. I wonder how many young kids are out there who love the longer form, but have no pathway to make it in the big time and are restricted to playing only Twenty20.
Money needs to be invested in fixing Test cricket and fast.It needs to be made more attractive and some bold risks such as the night Test matches need to be taken. It is a different game to Twenty20 and we need to keep it alive. Imagine a world where Test matches, One Day Internationals and Twenty20 games are taking the globe by storm. Then we can talk about revenue and big sponsor dollars.
I have a feeling that we will look back on this decision in thirty years time and mark it down as the day cricket lost its way. And that is so sad. I fear attention given to the World Twenty20’s at the expense of One Day Internationals and Test cricket will leave us with only one form of the game. And when that no longer attracts, what will be left for this historic sport?
So lets follow my mother’s advice. Moderation. A World Cup is a four year event. Don’t hit the hand that feeds you for six.