The Tim Brooks Column
The Testing Question
The Tim Brooks Column: Previous Articles
Ireland’s announcement of their strategic vision and application for test status this week has sparked a debate about whether test cricket should be the ultimate objective for aspiring cricket nations. Many see elevation to test cricket as the Holy Grail and consider that playing the ultimate form of the game has to be the ultimate ambition. Others are more sceptical, emphasising that for a test nation to prosper cricket has to be a commercially viable sport in the country.
There is no doubt that Ireland has proved its on-field credentials in recent years, dominating the associate scene, claiming test nations scalps and excelling in the test cricket ‘litmus test’ of the Intercontinental Cup. Judged on performance alone they have at least as good a case as Bangladesh, the newest test nation. However, there are questions marks over whether cricket has been sufficiently saturated into the sporting culture and consciousness to ensure consistently large crowds and enable any provincial first class structure commercially viable
The problem is that the current system allows only two options: either the ICC take a huge gamble in making Ireland a test nation, in the knowledge that they promoted Bangladesh too soon and have been criticised for it, or they deny Ireland and its players the chance to further develop as a cricketing nation. The former option is fraught with risk and the latter sends a message to all aspiring nations that there is a glass ceiling they cannot break through, and an exclusive full members coterie at the top of the game who want to share the sports spoils amongst themselves.
What is needed is a more flexible approach. The ICC should commit to a development pathway that sits between the High Performance Programme and full members. Associates should progress to this pathway if they meet the following criteria:
Once fulfilling these criteria they should qualify for the following:
The ICC development programme should assess the success of the associate in this period setting out transparent objectives against which their case for full member elevation is assessed. This includes an assessment of the commercial success of the inter-provincial tournament and the extent to which it can attract crowds, sponsorship, press coverage etc.
Such reforms would provide a bridge between the leading associates and test nations and reduce the risk to the ICC to an acceptable level. It would also provide real teeth and a genuine incentive for the High Performance Programme, the WCL and the Intercontinental Cup.
This article was originally published on Cricket Atlas at cricketatlas.blogspot.com
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