The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has called for an ‘urgent intervention’ to protect international cricket. The MCC committee also cited that the game is at an ‘important crossroads’ with most cricketing schedules being swayed by domestic leagues.
It has urged ICC to balance domestic leagues and international fixtures better. The latest addition of SAT20 and ILT20 leagues to the existing ones has put a lot of pressure on ICC’s Future Tour Programme (FTP).
This has led to an ‘alarming disparity’ in the number of matches played by minority nations.
“…In the new men’s FTP is an alarming and growing disparity in the amount of international cricket played by a minority of member nations compared to others- a situation which is clearly neither equitable nor sustainable,” it said.
The Big Three (India, England and Australia) get the major share of international assignments. Whereas small test nations like Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe barely get to play such contests.
“The men’s cricket schedule in 2023 is saturated with franchise competitions, which overlay and compete with the ICC Future Tours Programme of bilateral international cricket, recently released until 2027,” MCC said in a statement on Friday.
Only IPL commands window?
According to MCC, the trend is seen to repeat annually with constant overlap between international and franchise cricket, the only clear air created for ICC Global tournaments. Of all the domestic tournaments, only the Indian Premier League (IPL) commands anything like a window to avoid international clashes.
Women’s FTP vs Men’s FTP
The MCC appreciated ICC Women’s current FTP but urged boards to learn from the Men’s game to make the game more sustainable for players amidst the rise in T20 leagues.
“Unlike the men’s version, the recently released first version of the ICC Women’s FTP until 2025 appears very clean and presents no overlapping of international and domestic leagues. However, it urges boards to work together to find the optimal balance between the two, taking learnings from the men’s congested schedule to ensure the overall workload for the game’s best international female cricketers is sustainable.
Former BCCI President Saurav Ganguly said it is necessary to find a balance between international and franchise cricket.
Saurav Ganguly said, “I still believe that Test cricket is the biggest platform for cricket. That is where you find the great players, and that is why it is called a Test. It is a test of skill.
“That should always continue to be the pinnacle and I am sure that countries will give importance to it and find the right balance between franchise cricket and Test cricket,” he added.
Former Australia’s Men’s head coach Justin Langer said, “We need to protect the integrity of Test cricket, and international cricket in general. It is how great careers are judged and it is where true passion and lasting memories are generated.”