Are the ICC’s procedures similar for all countries when it comes to Test matches? The question has started ringing from the cricket community itself.
West Indies all-rounder Jason Holder lamented recently, “Except for those big 3 teams, conditions have developed so that no one can play Test cricket that much.”
The “Big 3” only India, Australia and England have been fraudulently given more matches in the Test Championship field by the ICC, while other countries have been cheated with fewer matches. The term “Leveling the playing field” has been entirely false in the agenda of the ICC Test Championship.
ICC’s consideration of those three teams continues forever. The Big 3 have been given more than 18 matches in all three rounds – past, current and upcoming, while other teams have been given only 12 – 14 matches. It is from this that the unscrupulous ethics of the ICC have come to light. To see if it directly affects the ranking list, let’s first clarify the way it is evaluated.
120 points were awarded for each series played by two teams in the last round. The points awarded to the winning team in a match will be determined by the number of matches in the series. In a two-match series, 60 points will be awarded to the team that wins one match, 40 points for a win in three, 30 for four and 24 for five. Controversies arose that this method was an unfair calculation.
The award for a win is 30 points in a four-game series, while it doubles to 60 in a two-game series. So teams with more two-game series are likely to have an advantage. It has been revised for the 2021-23 cycle.
All teams had to play in six series, with 12 points for a win, 4 for a draw and 6 for a tie. Here too the ICC played the role of Nallapillai as the custodian of justice.
Teams do not play in matches unless they play in an even number of series. It is said that the ranking will be prepared on the basis of percentage of marks and not on the basis of marks so as to correct the imbalance. Dizzy? It’s an easy calculation. Let us clarify with an example.
Assume that two students have appeared for 500 marks and 600 marks respectively. If we want to compare it, let’s change the scores of both to 100 and rank them on the basis of percentage, shall we? That is what the ICC does.
The ranking list is prepared on the basis of winning percentage which is how much the teams have been able to take in the places they have to take and not on the basis of points. Just hearing this gives the impression that everything is fine. Yes! Legally correct no doubt, but morally the ICC errs here.
Test matches – five days of training camps. Already the local cricket organizations of the Big 3 are strong. It is in Ranji and County that they learn the ins and outs of the game. But it is the international test matches that give the rest of the countries a chance to brace themselves and progress on the creative path. There it becomes unfair for the ICC to discriminate. Despite playing six series, in which Australia is 19 and Sri Lanka is 12, ICC’s color is white.
Well the question arises what is the reason for this? What else, even if the dead tree is stoned, fruit and care is given to the fruiting tree?! The ICC does the same.
The ICC’s 2019 – 2023 Revenue Distribution Plan defines the Big 3 cricket boards’ collective revenue of approximately $672 million. For the remaining 6 countries in the ranking, the share available is only $128 million per capita, totaling $768 million.
Along with this, it will be clear how much income the ICC earns from the respective countries.
Not only this. “Can the likes of Bangladesh and the West Indies bring in the revenue and crowds that the India Australia Tests bring in over three days? Can Ireland and Scotland create the same attraction as the last Ashes as a sideline?” As the ICC is only aiming to fill its coffers. The six series between Sri Lanka and South Africa in the next round consists of two matches each. It is not morally correct at all.
If this is their situation, what is the situation in countries like Zimbabwe and Ireland? Tests are only a distant horizon for them. Having only played three Tests in the last six years, where will Ireland appeal and to whom will they cry?
In England, it is common practice to divide the teams into different divisions according to their ability. Similarly, these 9 countries will be given equal matches in the round robin method and another tier of test matches will be held between the associate countries and the winning teams can face the teams from the previous group. This will keep the passion alive in them.
Let’s forget the Bazz Ball swinging England that snuffed out a chance for the finals. If Sri Lanka had been given a few more matches, many more changes would have taken place in the rankings, which had shattered their last hopes with the last ball bowled against New Zealand.
It is not only the teams that are affected by this, but also the players. England’s Joe Root, who made his Test debut in 2012, has gone on to play a total of 129 Tests, adding his name to the Fabulous 4. But Craig Brathwaite, who made his Test debut in 2011, has played only 85 matches. How is it fair to put these people who are not given equal opportunity on the same ranking list? Apart from being from Ireland, what did Paul Stirling, who only got a chance in 3 Tests, do wrong? The demand for income is met by players from smaller teams through T20 leagues. But
Do teams and players rely on such competitions and rankings to nurture their talent and showcase it to the eyes of the world?
The lesson for the ICC is that even though the length of the runway is the same 100 meters, not all teams have the same track characteristics. If we want cricket to spread to more countries and reach the next level, we need to make it accessible to everyone. The first requirement is the flourishing of balance without compromise.