Big money and the impact on WI cricket

Saturday, August 19, 2017

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Cricket fans can't have missed that the West Indies three-Test tour of England clashes directly with the Caribbean Premier League (CPL regional t wenty20 (T20) franchise tournament) currently ongoing in the Caribbean.

There was a time when such a thing would have been unthinkable. But times have changed dramatically in cricket over the last decade.

Readers will recall that until very recently Cricket West Indies insisted that players could only be selected to play for the West Indies in particular formats (Tests, One-Day Internationals (ODIs), T20s) if they play the equivalent formats in regional cricket.

Since many of the region's top professionals were earning far more money playing in the many cash-rich international T20 leagues springing up around the globe, they fell short of the regional board's criteria.

It meant that embattled West Indies have, in recent years, fielded theoretically under-strength teams in Test and ODI formats, since many T20 stars did not meet the requirements.

With the modern realities staring them in the face and also recognition that West Indies will now have to compete with so-called lesser cricket-playing nations to make it to the 2019 ICC (50 overs) World Cup, Cricket West Indies relented last July.

An amnesty now allows the West Indies selectors to choose from the best available players, even if the player hasn't been playing the equivalent competition in Caribbean domestic cricket. It's expected that new rules along those lines will be formally ratified by the directors of Cricket West Indies later this year.

On that basis, the expectation is that celebrated T20 stars will be available for ODI tournaments going forward, including a qualification tournament.

Of course, money makes the mare run so we will have to expect that in the months and years to come some players will be making themselves unavailable for West Indies selection because of the money on offer in competing high-paying tournaments.

We note what appears to be a move by Cricket West Indies to get players to identify their preferred category of cricket. CWI President Mr Dave Cameron was quoted as saying in July, “ w e must be able to identify the full slate and categories of players we have in the West Indies”.

We must not forget that all of this turbulence has been triggered by the huge revenues being generated by televised T20 cricket, especially in Asia where hundreds of millions watch. Cricket administrators agree that there needs to be some way to so organise global cricket so that schedule clashes such as the ongoing one between the West Indies tour of England and the CPL are avoided.

But where big money is involved, everything else, including the interests of cash-starved cricket regions and countries, take a back seat.

Inevitably Test cricket is getting a beating. So that only recently New Zealand, with an eye to revenues and the fast-evolving realities, cut a scheduled West Indies three-Test tour of that country to just two Tests.

And the long-standing arguments in support of a two-tier Test cricket league system persist. Such an arrangement would involve powerful India, Australia, England, and one or two others in a top league earning the bulk of television revenues with the rest scrambling for scraps in a second tier.

All the more reason for the young West Indies Test squad in England to somehow defy huge odds and make a powerful impression.




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