Greg Barclay, the new ICC chairman, has conceded that the ambitious World Test Championship (WTC) hasn’t quite achieved what it intended to, and the disruption caused by Covid-19 has only highlighted its “shortcomings”. Barclay suggested going “back to the drawing board” after getting the latest – maiden – edition of the competition out of the way.
“In short, I don’t think so. Covid has probably highlighted its shortcomings of the championship,” Barclay said during a virtual media conference for wire services on Monday, when asked if the WTC has served its purpose.
The WTC schedule was affected in a big way by the pandemic, forcing the ICC to come up with a percentage allocation of points since it wasn’t going to be possible to finish all the scheduled series before the 2021 final at the Lord’s.
“… the issues that we have already got, I wonder whether some of it was because of an attempt to develop a Test Championship, clearly designed to drive interest back into Test cricket, provide a bit of context and relevance around the Test matches,” Barclay said.
“From an idealist’s point of view, probably it had a lot of merit but practically, I do disagree, I am not sure whether it has achieved what it intended to do.
“My personal view is let’s get through with the little bit that we can in this Covid-19, with reallocation of points and all that […] but once we have done that, let’s go back to the drawing board as I am not quite sure whether it entirely fits the purpose and has achieved what it intended to after being conceptualised four to five years back.
“I think we need to look at it in context of calendar and not put cricketers in a situation where it’s a lot worse and not going to help us.”
Barclay said that he had the support of some full-member nations on the matter too. “Yeah, I think there would be some countries (who agree with the rethink). It is difficult for some of the full members as they simply can’t afford to play Test cricket,” he said. “Test cricket has got its legacy and I am a purist but I do accept that as much as I want to keep it as it is, less and less countries are able to afford that arrangement and are able to play it.
“Clearly, there is a demand (for T20 leagues) from the playing point of view and commercial partnering perspective. So let’s accept that domestic leagues are here to stay and they have been tremendously contributing to the growth of the really exciting product like the IPL, BBL and CPL”
“Very few countries can make it work from a financial point of view.”
While Barclay said he believed that T20 leagues would stay, and continue to assist the financial health of the member boards, he wanted bilateral series with context as players’ safety as well as physical and mental health would be paramount in coming days.
“My view is that, I think all forms of cricket need to be taken into account,” he said. “You are right, the calendar is increasingly becoming congested and something has to give somewhere.
“… but I do respect that each country has the right to develop its own domestic league given it meets the ICC requirements and is properly sanctioned.
“Clearly there is a demand from the playing point of view and commercial partnering perspective. So let’s accept that domestic leagues are here to stay and they have been tremendously contributing to the growth of the really exciting product like the IPL, BBL and CPL.”
Context, he reiterated, would be key in keeping bilateral cricket in good health.
“It’s an incredibly difficult juggling act to get in there and also, we need to have enough conversations regarding players’ health safety. I don’t think we have had enough conversations,” he said. “Some of the focus needs to be on the integrity aspect of the game and we need to have competitions which are relevant and have context.”
When asked about having more global events, which the world body had informally proposed before being rejected by members, Barclay said, “Bilateral cricket is fundamentally important to member countries. ICC runs very, very good events; all countries must have an opportunity to take part in these events.
“I am a fan of maintaining ICC events which are world-class, but at the same time, giving an opportunity to members to have bilateral cricket.”
On (the lack of) cricket between India and Pakistan, Barclay chose not to get involved, saying it was “not his mandate” and that he understood there were “geo-political” considerations in play, but he did acknowledge the importance of the BCCI to the global game, despite the many ICC vs BCCI incidents over the years: “India is a massively important part of world cricket. Like all families, we have general squabbles but India recognises that ICC needs Indian cricket. We have been able to navigate through differences, if any.”
Recent Match Report – Notts vs Durham North Group 2021
Durham’s chase runs out of steam despite David Bedingham half-century
Nottinghamshire 195 for 5 (Hales 96*, Duckett 52) beat Durham 182 for 8 (Bedingham 65, Carter 3-43) by 13 runs
The former England opener notched 10 fours and four sixes in his 54-ball innings, falling just short of a century in the final over. Ben Duckett supported Hales, scoring 52 as the Outlaws posted a huge total of 195 for 5 from their 20 overs.
Notts opener Joe Clarke appeared in great touch once again at the crease, striking Matty Potts for three straight boundaries. However, Potts responded by finding his outside edge and Ned Eckersley took the catch at the second attempt.
Hales and Ben Duckett upped the ante in response, with the visitors reaching 62 for 2 at the end of the Powerplay. The two players guided the Outlaws beyond the 100-run mark inside the 11th over before putting on the century stand for the third wicket. Hales was the first to fifty from 32 deliveries before Duckett followed one ball later, notching his second half-century in a row in the competition.
Hales then accelerated his innings, clearing the rope twice from one Liam Trevaskis over. Ben Raine broke the 126-run stand for the third wicket, trapping Duckett in front in the 15th over. Potts produced a piece of brilliance on the rope to dismiss Steven Mullaney, pushing the ball from past the boundary back into the hands of Scott Borthwick.
Late striking from Hales almost guided him to a deserved hundred, but tight bowling from Raine denied the opener and prevented Notts from breaking past the 200-run mark.
Bedingham and Clark began the Durham innings at a rapid rate, smashing the Outlaws opening bowlers around the ground. They reached their fifty partnership inside four overs, handing the hosts a great platform in the Powerplay. Clark dispatched Jake Ball over the fence to move to 39, but the bowler made the breakthrough to end the opening stand.
Matthew Carter turned the game on its head by removing Raine and Cameron Bancroft in the space of three deliveries as the home side fell from 73 for 0 to 77 for 3. There would be no repeat of Ned Eckersley’s Leicestershire heroics for Durham as he fell to Samit Patel, allowing the visitors to take complete control.
Bedingham offered hope by reaching his first T20 fifty of the term, but once he was bowled by Patel the game was up for the hosts, despite a decent late effort from Brydon Carse and Trevaskis.
Recent Match Report – Yorkshire vs Leics North Group 2021
Yorkshire given scare in defence of massive 240 in aggregate record for Blast
Yorkshire 240 for 4 (Bairstow 82, Lyth 51, Brook 48*) beat Leicestershire 222 for 8 (Inglis 82, Willey 3-44) by 18 runs
Leicestershire, 146 for 3 in the 13th over with opener Inglis unbeaten, later slipped to a fourth straight North Group defeat. But Inglis ensured they fought to the death at 222 for 8.
This was Yorkshire’s second win in three North Group games, and 462 runs combined equals the Blast record.
The triumph was built on a 113 opening partnership in 10.1 overs between Bairstow and Lyth, with further half-century stands for the third and fifth wickets.
On a glorious Leeds evening, there were 29 sixes hit.
Each of the Foxes six-man attack was taken to task after home captain Willey had won his side’s 10th toss in 11 in all cricket in 2021.
Afghanistan seamer Naveen-ul-Haq claimed two wickets, getting Willey and Bairstow caught in the deep in the 17th over. That left Yorkshire at 189 for four.
Fellow quick Gavin Griffiths had a night to forget, conceding 60 in three overs, as Bairstow set the tone, giving the Foxes fielders little chance with his power.
Leicestershire’s chase was always going to be a mountainous task. But that suited the dashing style of 26-year-old opener Inglis, who emigrated to Perth just before turning 15.
Having lost Scott Steel to Willey in the first over, Inglis and Arron Lilley took their side to 50 for 1 after only 3.4 overs to threaten a miracle.
Thompson had Ackermann caught in the deep and then brilliantly caught former under 11s team-mate Inglis one-handed at deep cover off Matthew Fisher.
That left 95 needed off 7.3 overs with six wickets left.
Ben Mike’s 31 helped the target to 31 off two overs and 23 off the last – with three wickets in hand. But Willey comfortably defended that and finished with 3 for 44.
Recent Match Report – Essex vs Sussex South Group 2021
Skipper slams 75 from 44 to help make short work of small chase
Sussex 130 for 3 (Wright 75) beat Essex 128 for 8 (Garton 3-31) by seven wickets
The Blast’s all-time leading run-scorer missed the opening two rounds after splitting the webbing in his hand while practising fielding on the eve of the competition. But he made up for lost time by bringing up his fifty in 33 deliveries as Sussex chased down Essex’s below-par 128 for eight with 36 balls to spare.
Wright looked at home right from the start, with boundaries from his second and third deliveries – two of eight fours.
Opening partner Phil Salt earned a life when he bludgeoned a full toss to mid-on, only to earn a reprieve for the umpire to judge the ball to have been above waist-height, much to Simon Harmer’s chagrin. Salt was run out for 13, after putting on 54 with Wright before Travis Head added 60 together with the skipper.
Wright continued to his 26th Blast half-century, going past 8000 T20 career runs, with a pair of straight sixes and another over cow corner. He departed with six still needed but Delray Rawlins clattered the winning runs over long-off soon after.
Wright’s day had started perfectly as he won the toss and stuck the hosts in – although Will Buttleman struck successive sixes in the fourth over. On a used hybrid pitch, scoring proved difficult for Essex with only Buttleman, Michael Pepper and Jimmy Neesham’s strike rates topping 100, for those who reached double figures.
The strain on scoring was exemplified by the last over of the Powerplay, which saw just one run, as Paul Walter struggled to lay a bat on Chris Jordan – the run rate throughout the innings hovering just below seven an over.
To add to the Eagles’ woes, wickets were a regular occurrence. Tom Westley and Buttleman fell in the Powerplay – the former picking out deep midwicket off George Garton and the latter slapping a Tymal Mills slower ball to cover.
Walter was stumped, Ryan ten Doeschate clubbed old pal Ravi Bopara to long off, Pepper – having scored 38 off 25 balls – drilled to extra cover, Harmer miscued to midwicket, Jack Plom skied to mid-off and Neesham was comprehensively bowled.
Garton ended up with 3 for 31, with Mills, Jordan and Bopara all going at under a run-a-ball.
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