Test cricket in for major overhaul

The International Cricket Council (ICC) have given notice that at their next Board meeting in June 2018 they will consider major changes to the playing structure of Test cricket from 2019 onwards. There is no doubt that Test cricket needs change if it is going to survive in the modern-day cricketing world. The ICC intends to divide Test cricket into two divisions of six teams each resulting in strength versus strength system. This is an important decision for the future of Test cricket, as all the Test playing nations are not of the same level of strength. With the current system certain Test series are sub-standard and attract little or no interest. Also, it will prevent the problem that some of the major Test-playing nations like India do not play the other Test nations on a regular basis because of commercial interests. This was the major shortcoming of what was … Continue reading

In cricket, all roads lead to India

Last month the coveted broadcast and online rights for the next five editions of the Indian Premier League (IPL) were sold to Star Sports India for a staggering US$2.6 billion.  What few people know, however, is that the American social media behemoth, Facebook, entered a bid of US$600 million for the online rights to stream matches to Facebook users on the Indian sub-continent. Facebook’s bid wasn’t successful, but think about it:  The sixth most valuable company in the world in terms of market capitalization, based in America (where cricket doesn’t count) were prepared to pay US$600 million to stream cricket live online in India alone, nowhere else.  Why? According to Dan Reed, Facebook’s head of global sports partnerships, the company witnessed first-hand on Facebook how incredibly engaging the IPL is in India.  The bid for them was a no-brainer because they would’ve easily recouped that money, and then some, through … Continue reading

Why fix test cricket if it ain’t broken?

Last week my colleague wrote a column saying that playing Test cricket over four days would destroy the integrity of Test cricket and he is absolutely right. Test cricket has worked for 140 years and continues to work in the modern era, easily coexisting with One Day and T20 cricket. Test cricket is not broken, so why try and fix it? The idea of playing four day Test cricket was first mooted by Colin Graves when he became Chairman of the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in 2015. Why would a Chairman of the ECB raise such a fundamental matter in a country where Test cricket is such a success and its biggest threat is the weather? It can only be for his ego and legacy without thinking the matter through, to the detriment of the game. If there is one country that needs five day Test cricket, it … Continue reading

An insidious erosion

Let me state it upfront:  I’m a cricket traditionalist and resent the possibility that a Test match could be played over four days. Yet, that is the distinct possibility facing the world of Test cricket.  After endless deliberations between Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the two boards announced earlier this week that their upcoming Test series in South Africa has been reduced from four to three matches.  Effectively, the decision axed the Boxing Day Test match (usually played in Durban but more recently in Port Elizabeth too).  Not wanting to deprive South African fans of Test cricket over this period, CSA took the unprecedented step of requesting the International Cricket Council (ICC) to grant Test status to a four-day, day-night match against Zimbabwe in Port Elizabeth.  All indications are that permission will be granted, albeit strictly as a “trial” exercise.  A … Continue reading

Is the great rivalry over?

  The great rivalry between the Springboks and All Blacks began way back in 1921 and the two teams have played each other on 94 occasions since. However, recent results like the 57/0 defeat in Albany last week and the 57-17 defeat in Durban last year, suggest that the traditional rivalry between these two great rugby nations is under threat. The Springboks are no longer the force they were in years gone by. The records show that New Zealand has won 56 matches and the Springboks 35 with three being drawn. However, before the professional era in 1992 the Springboks had a better win record against the All Blacks having won 53% of the matches against them. In the professional era the Springboks win ratio has dropped to 26% against the men in black. So what has been the cause that the Springboks have lost ground and continue to lose … Continue reading

Bumper cricket season in store

South African cricket fans can look forward to a bumper season of international and domestic cricket, with a particular highlight the inaugural T20 Global League (T20GL). The season has already officially started, albeit rather low key, with the third edition of the Africa T20 Cup.  The first round of the competition, won by Namibia, was somewhat overshadowed by the T20GL draft but hopefully the competition will heat up over the final two weekends.  The previous two seasons were the launch pad for the careers of Lungi Ngidi (who has since gone on to represent South Africa) and Patrick Kruger. The domestic 4-day competition, the Sunfoil Series, starts on 19 September.  Cricket South Africa (CSA) has broken with the tradition of having these games played from a Thursday to a Sunday.  First-class was traditionally played over weekends, but that came from an era when it still attracted good crowds.  As a … Continue reading

Two further additions to the T20 circuit

South Africa and Afghanistan have launched their own T20 tournaments that will take place between now and the end of the year. World cricket now has seven T20 tournaments and England will be added to this list in 2020. This will leave only New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe of the full nations of the International Cricket Council (ICC) without a global T20 tournament. International cricket and the global tournaments need the best players in the world to be marketable and commercially viable. This raises the question, can the two co-exist together successfully in the interests of cricket or will there be a casualty, and who will that casualty be? The Indian Premier League is played in a window when there is little or no international cricket, so no trends emerge from this tournament. The Big Bash in Australia is the best barometer to see if international cricket and global … Continue reading

T20GL draft a big success

The draft for the inaugural T20 Global League (T20GL) took place in Cape Town last Sunday.  It was an event of the highest quality in all aspects and the hosts, Cricket South Africa (CSA), must be commended for it. The eight teams’ two marquee players (one international and one South African) were announced at earlier events.  The aim of the draft was for each team to pick sixteen players to make up the rest of their squads.  From a pure cricketing point of view, this was the first really serious business for the teams and the T20GL in general. Overall, the seriousness of the event was very well counter-balanced with light-hearted moments and short interviews.  In this regard the masters of ceremonies, Dan Nicholl and Crystal Arnold, have to be congratulated.  The draft could easily have become robotic and strictly business (much like the draft for the Caribbean Premier League), … Continue reading

Is there still a place for the Currie Cup?

After six rounds of the Currie Cup one needs to ask the question is there still a place for the oldest rugby competition in world rugby? The once famous competition’s profile is almost non-existent with poor crowd attendances and television audiences, low media exposure and players who have no profile. The Currie Cup is no more than club rugby of years gone by. With the Free State Cheetahs and Eastern Province Kings now playing in the European Pro14 from September, the two provinces need two teams to meet their Currie Cup commitments as the two competitions overlap. The Free State Cheetahs don’t even have one decent team never mind two, and the Eastern Province Kings don’t even have enough players and need to loan from the Lions. The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has officially stated that the Pro14 will take preference over the Currie Cup. One can only term … Continue reading

The problem with Dale Steyn

The Proteas bowlers were about the only players who could still hold their heads high after the recent humiliating Test series defeat at the hands of England.  Provided they are fit, there would be no reason to start the two-match Test series against Bangladesh in September/October with any other fast bowling combination than the trio of Morné Morkel, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada. It was therefore interesting to see Dale Steyn earlier this week dropping a massive hint that he is ready to play again.  Posting a picture of him celebrating a wicket with his trademark fist-pump, Steyn took to Instagram to deliver a simple message: “The wait is over.” Steyn is one of the greatest fast bowlers the world has ever seen.  Full stop.  He has taken 417 wickets in 85 Test matches at an average of 22.30.  That puts him in tenth position on the all-time list for … Continue reading