Two weeks ago, I wrote a column on my reflection over the past 50 years that I have followed cricket, mainly in South Africa but also globally. This week I want to concentrate on the period after Covid-19.
Personally, I am not a great believer that a new and totally different world will emerge after Covid-19. It is imaginary, as mankind and the planet will remain the same with the same issues. However, I have labelled it the post Covid-19 era because cricket, like other sport codes and industries, have faced major disruptions not seen since the Second World War.
There are three major issues that cricket will have to address post the Covid-19 break if the game is to be sustained and grow in the future.
The first major consideration is to control the supply and demand of the cricket product. It is no secret that the professional game has sold itself out to the television networks for revenue. This has brought about the demand for product by the television networks at the expense of the supporters who have become saturated by the amount of cricket. This can be seen in the general passion for the game and its attendances. The start to rugby in New Zealand played by local teams and watched by big crowds proved two points, that less is better and that local teams enjoy community support.
The second matter that needs to be addressed is the future of Test cricket. The International Cricket Council (ICC) has stated that Test cricket is their number one product and priority, but their implementation does not reflect their vision. Test nations, except for England, are playing less Test cricket than a decade ago. Historically countries played an average of 12 Test matches in a calendar year. This no longer happens, with 6 being the modern-day norm. If Test cricket were to disappear it is hard to see cricket surviving, because Test cricket remains the real cricket where great players are born and statistics drive the history of the game. White-ball cricket does not have the character of Test cricket that is needed to preserve cricket and its history. There needs to be a concerted effort to secure the past and future of the game.
The third aspect that needs to be addressed is the fragmentation of the game; currently there is Test cricket, One Day Internationals and T20 cricket. Compared to other team sports cricket is a very fragmented game. This is not a positive but a negative. The introduction of other forms of cricket, like The Hundred in England, T10 in Dubai and now Three-team cricket in South Africa, is further fragmenting cricket and saturating the product. The ICC should not approve these peripheral forms of cricket, and stick to the tried and tested in the interest of the future of cricket.