Global challenges faced by T20 Cricket

The modern day T20 game is starting to face certain challenges from different sources and for a variety of reasons. It was always going to happen with the ambitions of certain nations and the prestige of private ownership. Cricket South Africa (CSA) recently made a media announcement that they have partnered with SuperSport to form a company that will own and operate the South African T20 tournament. This has led to a reaction from the owners who bought the rights to a team for the cancelled T20 Global League tournament. CSA has paid back these owners their deposits of $250,000 and the costs incurred. The team owners have refused the reimbursement because they are not satisfied with this arrangement. They have threatened CSA with legal action and are demanding that the teams they bought participate in the scheduled tournament in 2018. If this does not happen, they have threatened to … Continue reading

ICC World Test Championship becomes a reality

Earlier this week the International Cricket Council (ICC) released the first ever international programme featuring a World Test Championship. The nine top-ranked Test nations will slug it out for the Test Championship over two two-year cycles.   The inaugural cycle will run from 15 July 2019 to 30 April 2021. The sides will play six series in a two-year cycle on a home and away basis against opponents they have “mutually selected”.  The series can consist of anywhere between two and five matches’ duration.  Points will be awarded for individual Test match wins, with matches in shorter series worth more.  The two top-ranked sides will then progress to the June 2021 final to decide the first World Test Champions. The ICC has been debating a Test Championship for many years.  The general consensus was that Test cricket (apart from the Ashes) lacked context – there was nothing meaningful to play for … Continue reading

Cricket South Africa and SuperSport T20 partnership

Cricket South Africa (CSA) and SuperSport released a media statement that they have agreed to enter into a joint venture partnership that will own and operate the South African T20 league. This company will replace the aborted Global League T20 private ownership concept. A new company will be registered with CSA being the major shareholder with 51% and SuperSport 49% of the shares. Both parties will invest R150 million as venture capital to ensure that the company has the liquidity to launch and operate successfully. It has also been agreed that SuperSport will purchase the television rights for Africa at R120 million. They will also look to market the television rights across the cricketing globe and provide the international feed. CSA have entered into a joint venture with a very good South African and global company in SuperSport. With the profile, network and finances of SuperSport there can be little … Continue reading

1968 – A vintage year

The year 2018 is important in the history of the overseas professional in English county cricket:  It is 50 years since the England County Cricket Board (ECCB, predecessor of the current ECB – England & Wales Cricket Board) decided to relax the rules on residential qualification for professional players and heralded in the era of the overseas pro. Up to 1968 overseas players were not completely unknown in county cricket. But the intrepid souls who ventured into the pre-1968, stiff upper-lip world of county cricket had to negotiate complex rules regarding residential qualification.  It was easier to get into club cricket and at the time an equally reliable source of income. But in 1968 Nottinghamshire wanted the world’s premier cricket, Garry Sobers, to play for them – and Sobers dearly wanted to come.  It was an opportunity not even the conservative ECCB could let go.  They agreed to Nottinghamshire’s proposal … Continue reading

AB’s retirement a blow for the Proteas

The unexpected retirement from all forms of international cricket by AB de Villiers has come as a surprise and shock to the cricketing world. There have been signs that AB’s retirement was imminent when he missed recent series but it was only expected after the 2019 Cricket World Cup (CWC). He always said that he wanted to win a World Cup for South Africa. He has been one of the great cricketers of a generation having played in 420 international matches for South Africa with 114 Tests, 228 ODI’s and 78 T20 Internationals. He scored 19,489 international runs with 47 centuries and 109 half centuries. He retires with a Test average of 50.66, an ODI average of 53.50 and a T20I average of 26.12. In a South African context he is one of the top five best batsmen the country has produced alongside Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards, Jacques Kallis and … Continue reading

Changes on the cards in England

More than 20 years after Lord MacLaurin’s drastic shake up, English county cricket appears to be set for another major overhaul. When Lord MacLaurin, at the time the chairman and CEO of one of Britain’s most successful supermarket chains, Tesco, was appointed chairman of the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in 1997 English domestic cricket was in a shambles and it showed in the performances of the national side.  By the time that he announced he would step down in 2002, the County Championship and the one-day league had been divided into two divisions, an effective central contracts system was in place for the international players and the ECB Academy had put in place the foundations of a competitive and successful national side.  As a result, Lord MacLaurin had overseen a rise in board income of almost £30million, with £7million a year being pumped into grassroots development. Now the … Continue reading

Ireland debuts in Test cricket

Ireland debuted in their first ever Test match in Dublin this past week. They lost to Pakistan by 5 wickets but Kevin O’Brien scored their maiden Test hundred in the second innings. Was it a great moment for cricket or will it prove to be another nation playing Test cricket that is not commercially sustainable, like Zimbabwe? Test cricket is the format that was the start of international cricket when England and Australia played the first ever Test match in 1877 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground 141 years ago. It is very much a format that was born in the 19th century and is struggling to survive in the 21st century. Test cricket has come more and more under pressure from first the 50-over game and now the 20-over format. Also, the changing lifestyle has impacted negatively on a very long game. The only country where Test cricket remains in … Continue reading

Ireland makes its Test debut

11 May 2018 will forever be an historic day in the history of Irish cricket:  Ireland hosts its first ever Test match, against Pakistan, at Malahide Castle on the northern outskirts of Dublin. Ireland will become the first team to debut in Test cricket since Bangladesh in 2000.  The country was awarded full member status by the International Cricket Council last June, along with Afghanistan, and will become cricket’s 11th Test nation. It is rather apt for this momentous event that Ireland’s opponent should be Pakistan.  On St Patrick’s Day in 2007 Ireland recorded a legendary World Cup victory over Pakistan by three wickets at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica – an event that set in motion a process that will reach its climax on Friday.  Amazingly, four players will have been part of this journey from Sabina Park to Malahide:  the captain William Porterfield, fast bowler Boyd Rankin and … Continue reading

Is professional team sport dying?

The crowd attendances at the main three professional team sports – cricket, rugby and football – are a reason for concern, especially in the southern hemisphere. The lack of interest at the stadiums suggest that professional sport could be terminal or at best changing roles as a development process for international sport. The convenient explanation by administrators that it is the television audience that is important, holds no water. If the die-hard fans are no longer going to the stadiums, then the television audience has also declined as the one reflects the other. For years domestic cricket has been on the decline and, with the exception of the T20 game, the first-class and fifty-over games are developmental competitions to produce international cricketers. They have very little profile with the cricketing public and certainly have no commercial value. First-class and fifty-over cricket is a professional game in name only and needs … Continue reading

The 2019 Cricket World Cup

The International Cricket Council (ICC) this week confirmed the schedule of the 2019 Cricket World Cup (CWC), which will be staged in England and Wales from 30 May to 14 July. The 2019 CWC will be a replica of the 1992 edition in Australia, South Africa’s first ever CWC. It means that after dabbling with various tournament formats over six CWC’s from 1996 to 2015, the CWC will once again be a pure strength vs. strength competition.  The way it should be. The strength vs. strength concept was achieved in two ways. Firstly, in 2015, the ICC announced that only ten teams would qualify for the next CWC. They incurred the wrath of associate nations like Ireland (before it became a full member) and the Netherlands, but it was the right decision. No associate country had made any impact of any kind at the preceding six CWC’s. Their presence lowered … Continue reading