MCC NEWS

Shastri calls for two-tier Test system at MCC event

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Ravi Shastri spoke at length about the need to re-strategise Test cricket's future
Ravi Shastri spoke at length about the need to re-strategise Test cricket's future © Getty

Ravi Shastri has called for the introduction of a two-tier system for Test cricket. At the inaugural World Cricket Connects event, held at Lord's Cricket Ground on Friday, the former India coach said Test cricket can be more interesting if there is a method for promotion and relegation.

"(Shastri) proposed a competitive Test structure with promotion and relegation to maintain interest," Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) revealed. It released parts of the wide-ranging discussion. Another point put forth by Shastri was about managing Twenty20 cricket. The point has not been elaborated with the MCC stating, "Shastri also stressed T20 cricket's financial importance and the ICC's role in managing the Future Tours Programme." Shastri had previously stated that there should not be any bilateral Twenty20 cricket in the ICC calendar and the world body should only hold the World Cup in the shortest format of the game.

Shastri also highlighted the balance of power and economic realities in modern cricket, referencing England and Australia's former dominance being replaced by that of India. The cricketer-turned commentator and media expert also noted the importance of the BCCI sharing resources more generously.

In the same discussion, Graeme Smith spoke about Test cricket's evolution, noting it is primarily played by six nations and advocating for a strategic approach to its future. He cautioned against oversimplified solutions like creating dedicated windows for the format, something Pat Cummins, captain of Australia, has asked for.

The MCC discussion brought together some of the most influential figures in the game 'to discuss, provide opinion and debate some of the major opportunities and challenges facing modern cricket.' The MCC said, "The debate generated a range of ideas for those attending to help shape the positive evolution of the game."

Sanjog Gupta, Head of Sports at Star & Disney India, stressed balancing commercial interests with regulatory measures and enhancing the overall fan experience to ensure the sport's sustainability. Ramiz Raja highlighted the difficulties faced by Pakistan Cricket Board, particularly because of its inability to play lucrative bilateral cricket against India and pointed out how the success of Pakistan Super League (PSL) bolstered Pakistan's cricket economy. He questioned the current Test series scheduling and called for better stadium facilities and innovative formats like triangular series.

Andrew Strauss, the former England captain, noted the potential of the Olympics to introduce cricket to new audiences while Venky Mysore, CEO of Kolkata Knight Riders, spoke about the importance of pushing boundaries for growth, stressing the need to globalise cricket brands and fan bases to create year-round engagement and new market opportunities.

Greg Barclay, Chair of ICC, kicked off the event with a thought-provoking introduction on the state of the game, highlighting the unsustainable pace of the current cricket calendar and the looming challenge of balancing the sport's global growth with economic realities. "Barclay stressed the need for collaboration and compromise among cricket's leaders to navigate these challenges effectively," the MCC said.

According to the MCC, attendees included chairs and CEOs from ICC full Members representing Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa, West Indies, and associate nations Scotland and Oman. The IPL had strong representation with the CEOs of the Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders, as well as some of the prominent names from the world of broadcast bringing the IPL to billions worldwide. Leaders from the Professional Cricketers' Association, Australian Cricketers' Association, SA20, and IL20 were also present. MCC's World Cricket committee members such as Kumar Sangakkara, Graeme Smith, Clare Connor, and Jhulan Goswami attended, along with cricket legends such as Kevin Pietersen, Brendon McCullum, Heather Knight, Barry Richards and Shastri.

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