ICC mulls over big boys club


The International Cricket Council (ICC) is mooting a grandiose plan to make cricket a big boys club through the introduction of knockouts for poorly performing Test-playing nations.

The promotion and demotion programme report is now available on the ICC website and will be deliberated on later this month when the executive board meets.

Once again, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, who have struggled to win Test matches against bigger teams in the past, will be the targets.

Presently, the ICC Test fixtures hinge on 10 teams with Test status (South Africa, India, Pakistani, Zimbabwe, West Indies, New Zealand, Australia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka). Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, however, have failed to beat the top-ranked teams (India, Australia, South Africa, England, Sri Lanka) in the past 12 years but only look competitive when they face off.

In fact, in the recent past cricket analysts, Ravi Shastri of India and Mpumelelo Mbangwa of Zimbabwe, have underscored the need for Zimbabwe and Bangladesh to play the big boys more often, as a way of getting exposure without looking too much into the results.

““The ICC executive board is expected to consider the proposal at the next round of meetings later this month. Associate nations, will have to perform well against lower-ranked full members to press for a spot. This will provide strong incentives for nations currently playing Test matches to improve themselves while also offering opportunities for associates to compete at the highest level,” the report says.

The relegation plan by the international cricket governing board ‑ although without a set deadline for commencing ‑ comes in the wake of delays in the implementation of the much talked about Test match league.

ICC initially wanted to come up with a Test league tournament where all the 10 Test teams would play each other in a period of four years and the team with the highest number of wins would eventually become the best Test-playing nation for that time.

However, that does not seem to be yielding results nor is there a plan of action on when the league would commence. So, the cricketing board is now looking for other avenues.

According to the ICC, they are mooting a plan that would see the poor performers in the elite group of 10 Test-playing nations relegated to lower tiers for a certain period. However, the relegation will not necessarily result in the loss of Test status.

The ICC plan would see Ireland, the Netherlands, Afghanistan and a host of other third-tier nations, who have been knocking on the ICC Test door for decades, being promoted into the Test league in place of the relegated poor performers.

While the ICC plan would spell good times for third-tier nations, analysts argue that the world cricket governing board has not taken enough time to look at the reasons why teams like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh continue to struggle against big Test-playing nations.

Some analysts argue that the two teams are never granted long-term tours of five-day Test matches with the big boys to gain the much-needed experience. 

However, others cite the unavailability of funds and sponsorship in the two countries (Zimbabwe and Bangladesh), as the reason why they have become the whipping boys of Test cricket over the past few years.

Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have also struggled to build competitive domestic club tournaments that can expose their cricketers to the highest level of the game in preparation for the gruesome five-day Test matches played internationally.

January 2014
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