13-member committee suggests “removing bilateral ODIs, other than in the one year preceding each World Cup”
The MCC has suggested limiting men’s bilateral ODI cricket after the 2027 World Cup, questioning the value the format adds to an already jam-packed calendar.
The MCC’s World Cricket Committee met on the sidelines of the recent Ashes Test at Lord’s and have come to the conclusion that in a world of growing franchise T20 tournaments around the year, something has to give.
The 13-member committee, led by former England captain Mike Gatting, is hopeful that “a scarcity of ODI cricket would increase the quality, achieved by removing bilateral ODIs, other than in the one year preceding each World Cup. This would, as a consequence, also create much-needed space in the global cricketing calendar.”
The ICC and its various members have been grappling with this situation for a while now. Jason Roy is foregoing a part of his incremental contract with England to play in the US’s Major League Cricket (MLC). Trent Boult gave up a central contract with New Zealand last year, and the IPL has expanded into a two-month window with its franchises buying teams in other leagues as well, leading to the prospect of players being offered year-round T20 contracts.
The FTP for 2023-27 is more or less set. “Nothing is going to be removed,” Wasim Khan, the ICC’s general manager of cricket said in May. But he also highlighted that, going forward, the international game needs to find a way to co-exist with the ever-increasing number of T20 leagues.
MCC wants to know how much it really costs to host a Test match
Test cricket faces challenges of its own. The widely-held belief is that only a few countries don’t lose money hosting a five-day game. In 2017, for example, Zimbabwe were exploring the possibility of playing a majority of their matches away from home because of these very concerns. To address this, the MCC’s World Cricket Committee has asked the ICC to undertake an audit of the Test game with the view to setting up a “Test fund”.
“This audit of operational costs [of hosting a Test match] versus commercial return would help the ICC identify nations in need of support in order to sustain a Test match programme,” an MCC press release on Tuesday said. This need could be subsequently addressed via a separate Test fund, established to “protect the sanctity of Test match cricket.”
The ICC established a Test fund after the Big Three boards of the BCCI, ECB and CA took administrative control of the game’s governance in 2014. That, however, did not last long.
Gatting, who is on his way out as committee chair, added: “In many ways, cricket is growing and, on the surface, seems financially strong. However, we are increasingly seeing a game which focuses on a powerful few, as opposed to a democratic and inclusive approach for the benefit of the whole sport.
“It’s time for the global game to reset. Too often, member nations are finding themselves living hand to mouth with their cricketing operations, versus having a long-term, viable strategy in place that future-proofs the game in their country, both financially and in terms of participation.
“We are currently at the commencement of a new ICC Future Tours Programme and financing cycle, and we would recommend further evidence of the requisite funding being directly apportioned to the strategic needs of cricket.”
The World Cricket Committee also advised the setting up of a “substantial and ringfenced fund” solely for growing women’s cricket, the money from which can be “allocated on a required basis to full member and associate nations who, amongst other key initiatives, fully commit to their women’s pathway and national team. The WCC also believes that in order to qualify as a full ICC member, each nation must be required to commit to investing in both men’s and women’s cricket and field a national women’s team.”