Former England captain Andrew Strauss has said the skewed distribution of power among the India-led big three in ICC can lead to a situation in future when the “rich will only get richer and the poor poorer.”
Following the revamp in International Cricket Council, India, England and Australia now effectively runs the game’s apex body with the Asian giant being the wealthiest of the three boards on account of the massive interest cricket generates in the country.
“India can argue that they bring the most money into the game, and thus deserve more out of the precious ICC broadcasting rights, but skewing the distribution of the three boards that are already the most financially secure can only create a situation in which the rich get richer and the poor poorer,” Strauss said.
Strauss made his prediction in the upgraded paperback edition of his autobiography, ‘Driving Ambition’, published on Thursday. Strauss feared that Test cricket could “fizzle out” in the face of competition from Twenty20 tournaments such as the Indian Premier League.
“With only 10 teams playing Test cricket and four of those already struggling to stay competitive, the risk of the game degenerating to the extent that the result of many Test series is a foregone conclusion is both high and real,” Strauss wrote.
One of England’s most successful captains having led the country to two Ashes triumphs, Strauss added: “I can’t help feeling that we have already reached the tipping point as far as Test cricket is concerned. The teams will keep playing each other over the next eight years, but aside from iconic series like the Ashes or England v India, I fear that the game is slowly going to fizzle out as a mainstream attraction, especially away from the ‘big three’ nations.”
Strauss, who captained England in 50 of his 100 Tests, highlighted how viewing numbers for county T20 games now rival the five-day matches.
“Being at Headingley to watch the Test between England and Sri Lanka, and hearing that there was a bigger crowd at Lord’s to watch MCC v Hertfordshire, tells a story itself.
“Watching a Test match between the West Indies and New Zealand in an empty stadium with no more than a handful of spectators in attendance sends out warning signals.
“Seeing that the viewing figures for a county Twenty20 game rival those for a Test match adds to the growing perception that Test cricket is in crisis,” he said.
Considering the growing interest in the slam-bang format, the ex-England opener feels there will soon come a situation when the majority of players are contracted to T20 franchises with countries having to request their release.
“It is not a huge stretch of the imagination to see a situation in which most players will be contracted to franchises and play the majority of their cricket in the Twenty20 format.
It will not happen for a while, as the international boards will do everything in their power to prevent it, but market forces are likely to win the battle in the long term. “In twenty years, the game of cricket will look very different,” felt Strauss.