The recent developments surrounding the ICC’s decision to have a two-tier test system in place have met with mixed reactions. While some cricketing bodies have seconded the move to have distinct categories in test cricket, a majority of the cricket boards have clearly opposed the move. The boards opposing the move have mentioned that putting in place such a system is bound to dilute the outlook of test cricket.
Former Pakistan batsman and renowned TV commentator Ramiz Raja was among those who lashed out against the system. Raja backed the BCCI’s guidelines of opposing the recent developments, and he was also backed by former ICC chairperson Ehsan Mani. Raja mentioned that in his recent meeting within the MCC, he clearly spoke against the issue.
“I’m opposed to it, and made this amply clear during the MCC cricket committee meeting recently at Lord’s. In a nutshell, there will be sponsorship issues, as the second tier of teams is bound to be regarded as second-grade, which may dissuade companies to link their businesses to such a circuit,” Raja said in his interaction with TOI.
The former Pakistani skipper added that the low ranked teams would find it difficult to last the five days. “Also, if the lack of context is being quoted as one of the reasons behind a lack of interest and falling standards in Test cricket, then why would anybody want to watch a lowly-ranked set of teams with lesser skills at it over five days? That would, in fact, turn out to be a negative advertisement for Tests and defeat the purpose altogether,” he said.
Mani lauded the BCCI for opposing the move and questioned the commercial factors. “I laud BCCI president Anurag Thakur for not approving this concept. The ICC has bigger issues which must bother it – it must ensure that all the Test playing countries play each other on a regular basis, and pump in more money in countries like Ireland, Afghanistan, and the US, where there is huge potential for the growth of the game.”This idea isn’t commercially viable presently , and should be thrown open for debate to the public, sponsors, media and other stakeholders before it is passed. Test cricket is in good shape in England and Australia, and only needs a boost in the sub-continent,” Mani added.
“If it was in place, perhaps we wouldn’t have seen Pakistan and Sri Lanka play in England this year, and missed out on some quality cricket. Do you want to see only the top four-five countries play against each other, while the rest struggle? I’m not surprised that England and Australia, who had come up with the `Big Three’ concept to wipe out the smaller cricketing nations, have mooted this idea too,” Mani concluded.