The ICC will revisit its decision to include an additional global event in its next eight-year cycle, a move that makes apparent the divisions within the game about how international cricket should move post 2023.
“No. We haven’t really built the calendar of events,” Barclay said. “There’s a lot of conjecture around whether it should be eight events, seven events, six events or whatever. I honestly don’t have a preference. What I want to ensure is that whatever we do end up with gives us optimum cricketing outcomes.”
That, effectively, marks a U-turn for the governing body, given that the ICC has already gone to market to tender eight events for the cycle – one each year for men and women. That roster included two 50-over World Cups, four T20 World Cups and two editions of an extra event that may have looked like a six-team Champions Trophy.
However, that extra event has been a bone of contention among members: some want it because they rely heavily on the revenues generated from an ICC event, while others feel it eats into their calendars where bilateral cricket might fit, which remains a lucrative property for them.
In some ways, the issue came to dominate the election that saw Barclay emerge victorious, and finding a balance and consensus among members would be among his most pressing tasks. ESPNcricinfo understands from multiple board sources, for instance, that executives from India, England, Australia and New Zealand – all of whom backed Barclay in the election – have been mapping out an alternative future tours and ICC events programme.
While greater details of these plans are still to emerge, it is clear that the re-addition of a Champions Trophy-style event is missing, thereby reducing the number of global tournaments over an eight-year cycle, and increasing the emphasis on the nascent World Test Championship and ODI Super League that got underway last year before being severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
When the ICC approved the extra event in 2019, the BCCI made its opposition plain, and was backed up by the ECB and CA on the premise that the game’s richest nations continued to earn the majority of their revenue from bilateral series and have argued that the introduction of leagues would, in time, contribute to an increase in the value of broadcast rights for bilateral meetings involving less financially healthy boards.
Matters will likely come out into the open at a scheduling meeting due to take place in December, to be attended by ICC management as well as chief executives from member boards. One ICC Board director confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that there were strong differences of opinion on the matter, though he insisted that fears of another Big Three takeover may be exaggerated. There is, however, clearly a degree of secrecy to the alternative plans. A number of officials who attended or were involved in the ICC meetings last week expressed ignorance of a potential alternative schedule, one suggesting that there was still widespread acceptance of eight ICC events.
“There was an analysis done around six months ago that showed little or no impact on bilateral cricket from playing eight ICC events instead of six,” the official said. “Following that, all countries have pretty much accepted that eight events will take place now and there was little challenge at the meeting the other day when the outline of eight events was presented.”
That suggests that, at the very least, there remains a fundamental disconnect between those who believe that ICC events revenue now represents the lifeblood of the majority of cricket’s major nations, and the boards of primarily India, England and Australia, with the co-operation of the game’s most sustainably-run smaller board, New Zealand.
Whatever direction is chosen, meanwhile, will play into the broader strategic review of the game – carried out by a global consultancy firm – currently ongoing. The report is not yet final, but at the ICC meetings last week, both the chief executives’ committee and the ICC Board were updated on the review’s progress. Barclay has stressed the need, with this review in mind, of a quick decision on what direction the ICC takes.
This off-camera battle, which has now played out over more than a year and well beyond Shashank Manohar‘s resignation as the previous permanent chair of the ICC, is only adding to numerous pressure points building up for the global game, as summed up by the Australian opening batsman David Warner when he was asked about priorities for scheduling.
“It’s an interesting question and a tough one for me to answer. You’ve just got to find time where you do have a couple of weeks off before you do play a series, which is going to be very rare because that’s an opportunity and a window to put something on, or someone else will put their franchise cricket on,” Warner said. “You’ve got the introduction of the 100-ball as well in England, which looks like a great tournament, but yet again next year it’s on the back end of the Test Championship final.
“Yeah there are only two teams playing that, but after that series I know Australia go to the Caribbean, so it’s hard to play everything. When it comes to that scheduling, they took out that T20 Champions [League] that was in September/October, they got rid of that, but then there was more cricket put on, which allowed that for the international calendar, which rightfully so takes more preference over the franchise leagues. But it’s a difficult one, those guys who do the scheduling and with the ICC putting the new Test Championship there.
“Then you have unprecedented times and the unique situation with the coronavirus, now it’s gone to a percentage of points on the table, so it’s difficult to get all these games in and then play all your other white-ball games and BBL and then the IPL as well which had to be moved, T20 World Cup had to be moved, is that going to go ahead in India next year, we don’t know. So it’s very hard, we can talk about it but it’s very hard to try and schedule that in.”
Additional reporting by Osman Samiuddin
Men’s Hundred – Eoin Morgan
Middle order failing to fire, absence of three members of Test squad, Maxwell’s relatively late withdrawal hurt winless London Spirit
But five games into their first season, the Spirit have been the Hundred’s weakest side. They are the only side in the men’s competition yet to win a game, and were thrashed in their fourth and final home fixture (one was a washout) by Northern Superchargers on Tuesday night. The table is still tight enough that they are mathematically in the running, but any realistic chances of qualifying for knockout stages have dissipated.
Their first three defeats were all tight, with each game going down to the final set of five balls. At Edgbaston, they were just short of par in setting Birmingham Phoenix 145 to win, and in the home losses against Trent Rockets and Southern Brave, they were two boundaries away from getting across the line.
“I think throughout tournaments, and group stages, you will be beaten by better sides. There are very few instances when sides go unbeaten throughout a tournament. Where the problem for us lies is that the previous two games we played, we played well for the majority but in clinical parts of the game, we didn’t finish the job and that’s hurt us.”
Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of their struggles has been the fact that the squad they assembled does not look like it was built with the long term in mind. While some sides have openly admitted that their draft strategy was to assemble a group that could develop over a number of years rather than simply targeting success in the Hundred’s first season, the Spirit picked a number of veterans and looked – to borrow terminology from the NFL – like a ‘win-now’ team.
All three players were signed as part of the draft in October 2019, rather than through the separate Test player mechanism. None of them held a red-ball central contract at the time – Crawley and Lawrence were both uncapped – and while it was not out of the question that they might miss some games due to inclusion in a Test squad in future seasons, the Spirit were unfortunate to miss all three simultaneously for the majority of this year. To make matters worse, one of the two games for which Crawley and Lawrence were both available was washed out.
“I think every team has gone through it, losing players, particularly their Test guys,” Morgan said. “It’s been challenging, but other sides have found a way. We’ve recruited well, we just haven’t managed to get over the line.
“We haven’t done a lot of things wrong in the previous games that we’ve played. Every game we’d played had gone right down to the wire but to be up there with the pace, you’re doing a lot of positive things. Today [against the Superchargers], we were just beaten.”
But the upshot is that the Spirit are the first men’s team facing a post-mortem into a season that has represented something of a false start. Mason Crane and Blake Cullen have shown flickers of promise with the ball, but positives for future years have been relatively hard to come by. Warne, who missed their last two games after testing positive for Covid-19, tweeted from self-isolation that their defeats against the Rockets and the Brave had been “embarrassing” – his verdict on the season to date is unlikely to be any more favourable.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
Bangladesh vs Australia T20Is, 2021
The 1994 tour to Pakistan was the last time a full series was not available to viewers in Australia
For the first time since 1994 a tour by the Australia men’s team will not broadcast into Australia after a last-minute deal failed to materialise for the rights to the T20I series in Bangladesh.
It had been hoped that in the absence of a traditional television deal the series would be streamed on YouTube but there was no live coverage into Australia.
While the occasional one-off limited-overs match has not been seen in Australia over the last few years, it is not since the 1994 tour of Pakistan that an entire series won’t have been shown.
The majority of Australia’s tours are broadcast by Fox Sports who secured the recent series against West Indies just a couple of days before it started but a similar outcome has not happened for Bangladesh.
The ongoing Olympics that is taking most of the attention, the 1am finish time of the matches in Bangladesh and the fact Australia are missing a host of first-choice players may also have been factors in the attractiveness of the series. However, it also highlights what is likely to become an increasingly challenging broadcast market, particularly for perceived lower-key tours.
The series will be the last chance for both sides to work on plans and assess players ahead of the T20 World Cup in October. It was confirmed on Monday that Bangladesh’s proposed series against England of three T20Is and three ODIs in late September had been postponed until March 2023.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
IPL 2021 – Eoin Morgan to return to Kolkata Knight Riders for second half of IPL
He says involvement of other England players in the tournament, scheduled in September-October in the UAE, was a matter of personal choice
England were due to play three ODIs and three T20Is in Bangladesh in September-October but the ECB and the BCB released statements on Tuesday morning confirming that they had “mutually decided” to postpone the tour until March 2023. The IPL is due to resume on September 19 after its postponement midway through the season earlier this year, with the tour’s postponement opening up the opportunity for England’s white-ball players to take part ahead of the T20 World Cup in the UAE.
Speaking after his London Spirit side were beaten by Northern Superchargers in the Hundred at Lord’s on Tuesday night, Morgan confirmed that he intends to return to captain the Knight Riders in the rest of the IPL, and said that the involvement of other England players with contracts in the tournament was a matter of personal choice.
“It’s a complete individual decision,” Morgan said. “I think it was a win-win either way. If we went to Bangladesh we’d play in conditions that are foreign to us. If some guys go to the IPL, they’ll play in similar conditions [to the World Cup] or for guys that need a rest, they take a rest.
“We’ve a lot of cricket to play between now and then. We’ve planned on the tour going ahead – that’s been part of our planning for a long time now – but equally, given the nature in which we now compete and live our lives, it’s not a bad thing for guys to either take time off or go to the IPL if they feel refreshed and have enough energy.”
England’s only two remaining T20I fixtures before the World Cup starts on October 17 are due to be played in Pakistan on October 14 and 15, with the ECB and the PCB both confident that the tour will go ahead. The IPL final is also due to be played on October 15, creating a possible clash for any players whose franchises reach that stage of the tournament.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
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