KARACHI: Test cricket could be reduced to four days, and the next World Cup curtailed to 40 overs a side, if wide-ranging discussions between the chairmen of the English counties and the ECB become firm proposals, and are ultimately adopted by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
“Any reduction in five-day cricket would mean the abandonment of a tradition that has been at the heart of the international game for more than 30 years, cricinfo.com website reported on Wednesday.
“Tests have routinely been played over five days since 1979, an exception being when India met West Indies over six days in Kanpur. You have to go as far back as 1973 to find a Test scheduled for only four days: New Zealand v Pakistan in Auckland, it said.
The ideas are included in a discussion document – Strategy Conversation Summary – seen by website which details radical suggestions for change in the domestic and international game.
They form part of a wide-ranging review into the future of English cricket, both domestically and internationally, in which no tenet of the game is immune from potential change.
These suggestions remain only that, and are as yet restricted only to England. Any such change, if proposed, would have to undergo a long and painful discussion process within the ICC if they were to be adopted. But the very fact that such radical questions are being posed perhaps indicates the potential changes that could take place within the international game.
Another eye-catching aim – and one being driven forward most strongly – includes England establishing the English Premier League, a streamlined T20 competition involving eight or 10 teams, as “a dominant T20 tournament.”
The implication – although it is not stated directly – is that England’s international schedule could be trimmed to allow England players to take part in the EPL which would be seen as a serious rival – or addition – to the IPL and the fast-growing Big Bash League in Australia.
There are also widespread changes suggested for the structure of domestic cricket in England and Wales.
But it is the sections on Test and ODI cricket that will provoke the most worldwide interest, as county chairmen debate options ahead of an ECB strategy document due to be published in October.
News that a 50-over World Cup is being openly questioned in England might be seen as untimely, taking place as it does while the current tournament is being held over 50 overs in Australia and New Zealand.
While the next World Cup is to be staged in England in 2019, there is no way that the ECB – soon to be rebranded Cricket England and Wales as the ECB brand is seen as toxic – could unilaterally decide a change in its format.