I have waiting until this evening to read the speech of Rahul Dravid to the ESPNcricinfo For Cricket Summit and to say it is a must read for any cricket fan would be an understatement. If you want to read it in full here is a link to the speech http://www.espncricinfo.com/cricinfo-for-cricket/content/story/663447.html
In describing test cricket Dravid relies on an allegory about a tree to make the point that test cricket is the life blood of the game. He says:
“Test cricket, an older, larger entity is the trunk of a tree and the shorter game – be it T20 or ODIs – is its branches, its offshoots,” he said. “Now to be fair, it is the branches that carry the fruit, earn the benefits of the larger garden in which they stand and so catch the eye. The trunk, though, is the old, massive, larger thing which took a very long time to reach height and bulk. But it is actually a life source: chip away at the trunk or cut it down and the branches will fall off, the fruit will dry up.”
Dravid expresses concern for test match cricket and suggests a series of improvements to assist the development of the game such as:
- Re-working first-class and test match cricket contracts to increase the pay of players who specialise in those forms.
- Regularising the itinerary of all cricket so that in test cricket all teams play each other in a four year cycle.
- Introduce marques tournaments in a test match context: a Champions trophy of Test Match cricket for example.
- Improving first class competitions in developing nations or smaller, less resourced countries.
- For less resourced countries integrating overseas teams into the domestic competitions of better resourced countries. Dravid suggests a Bangladesh team playing in India, a Zimbabwe team in South Africa, a West Indian team in England and a New Zealand team in Australia.
I love the ideas in this speech from Rahul Dravid and I have to say I only hope that the administrators of the game worldwide look at this roadmap for improving the game of cricket and actually take on board the ideas presented. If they do not then the fear that Dravid states for the game, I suspect will become reality.
“We are, I believe, maybe one generation away from reaching the point where our entire youth structures could cater only to T20 without any emphasis on the longer form of the game. By not giving young players a chance to explore their versatility, endurance or even improvisational skills, we will be selling ourselves and our sport well short.”
I can only pray he is wrong!