Rameez Raja Asks ICC To Create Test Window, Questions MS Dhoni Grade- A Contract
With the meteoric rise of T20 cricket threatening the popularity of Test cricket, former Pakistan cricketer Rameez Raja has urged International Cricket Council (ICC) to set aside a two-month window solely for Test matches.
The popularity of the oldest format of the game has been on steady decline in the last decade or so and with the proliferation of T20 tournaments across the globe with traditional powerhouses South Africa and England also gearing up to start IPL-like competitions, the scene is only getting tougher for the 5-day cricket to regain its old glory.
The ICC has announced its plans of holding a Test Championship which has been in the pipeline for long but with not every country supporting the plan as of now, nothing concrete has come out so far. But Rameez Raja feels the governing body has got a decent plan for the betterment of Test cricket and has advised the apex body to set aside a window solely for it.
“I feel that the ICC has a decent plan in the shape of the World Test Championship,” Sport24 quoted Raja as saying after a committee meeting at Lord’s on Tuesday (July 4).
“There should be a window for that and everything else should stop for a period of two months so the best players are available to play Test cricket,” he added.
Citing the examples of Test cricket’s deteriorating popularity in Asian countries because of T20 leagues, Rameez further said: “It’s got to get better. In Asia, for example, because of poor Test match scheduling, the interest is dwindling,”
“When you go back home you are never sure if you are going to have a one-Test series, a two-Test series or whether you are going to have a Test series at all,” added the player who is a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).
He further urged the cricket boards such as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to play an active part in preserving the status of the traditional format of the gentlemen’s game.
“You have to acknowledge and respect the status of Test match cricket and it has to come from the cricket boards, in Asia specifically,” said Raja.
To prove his point that the status of Test cricket has lost its sheen in Asian countries, the 54-year old cited MS Dhoni and Shahid Afridi’s examples who were given grade A contracts by their respective cricket boards despite retiring from the longest format of the game.
“For example, MS Dhoni retired from Test cricket yet got the A-grade contract from the BCCI, Shahid Afridi retired from Test cricket yet got the A-grade contract from PCB. It is under a lot of stress in Asia but if we have a properly planned Test match championship, that’s the way out of this, otherwise we will be struggling to put aside as much money as is available for the T20 leagues,” he said.
Rameez also feels that introduction of cricket in Olympics will boost its popularity as new nations will be tempted to take up the sport. The MCC World Cricket Committee, which met in London earlier this week, has asked the ICC to try and get cricket included for the 2024 Olympics.
“It is crucial to have cricket in the Olympics because the game will be introduced to many new parts of the world,” said Rameez.“But for that to happen we have to present a unified front from cricket that we want to be included in the Games.”
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