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Sight Screen

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Two-tier Tests?

Sriraj, responding to the post about Bangla's Test status: 'I thought of what you had to say -- my emphasis would be on quality and not quantity. I'd hate my heroes to score centuries against, say, Nigeria and Fiji tomorrow and artificially pump up their respective individual scores.
What the ICC could do is to have a two-tier system, just like the English County system and I believe, the Ranji system too (I'm sorry man, I've not been in India for a while -- so I do not exactly know what's going on there. Rediff is my main connection to India, I might add). Back to my main point -- the first tier has the top five or six nations only. Only the matches played b/w any of these nations will be accorded Test status. Once you drop to the second tier, any matches played witll be accorded first class status.
So, at the end of the year, the bottom two nations of the first tier get relegated to the second tier and the top two nations of the second tier get pushed up to the first tier. This will really make Test cricket exciting. I know this sounds radical but only by thinking out of the box, can one arrive at better solutions.
It also means that centuries scored against second tier nations (assuming there's a series b/w a first tier and second tier nation) will not be entered in to the record books under official Tests. They will, though, be given first class status.
The system is fair and square -- you perform, you survive; you poop, you're scooped.'
This is the sort of thing international players -- most notably Ricky Ponting, though he is not the lone voice -- have been suggesting.
A two-tier system makes an awful lot of sense, actually -- assume we have five teams in each tier, imagine how much more competitive an international calendar would be; the top five teams would play each other more often, without the distraction of having to find time for the teams in the second tier -- with a structure like that, a real, quantifiable world championship of Test cricket would be truly on.
But here's where it begins to get fun: Who should form the top tier? If you go by the ICC Test rankings table (and since ICC runs the game, I guess their table would be the yardstick, right?), then it would be Australia, England, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, with South Africa tied for that fifth slot (Check the current standings, here).
Rediff's rankings, which I frankly prefer, is less ambigous -- Australia, England, South Africa, India and Pakistan, in that order.
Either way, imagine a two-year calendar where each of these teams plays the other home and away -- that sort of match-up would put spectators back in their seats, for sure.
In passing, an ICC update indicates what Pakistan has to do, in the coming series against the West Indies, to hold on to its fourth position in the Test table. And here's a pretty comprehensive preview of the series, which kicks off Thursday with the first Test.
Another defeat for the West Indies will mean, among other things, that Brian Lara will earn a dubious distinction -- of all who have played 100 Tests or more, Lara joins Alec Stewart with the most defeats (54 apiece).


  • Anna,

    As an after thought, I wanted to add to my post that the calendar should be two-year. I guess, the guru that you are, your reply cleared the cobwebs.

    Your post really covered it all. I have nothing else to add.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20:50  

  • I am fully agree with your thoughts of creating a two-tier system for the test playing nations. In this way the competition will be more among the teams as well as players. Players will also start playing for the teams and the team managers/coches/corresponds boards will alsomake interest to avoid the politics in the game.
    By this way we can also avoid the betting in the game.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 01:24  

  • Totally tangential topic, but how will you avoid betting in the game? In fact, it adds another variable and that typically means more permutations and combinations .. and thus .. more betting.
    We should just legalize betting .. hell, people are betting anyways .. might as well let the govt make some change off it ..

    By Blogger Viks, at 08:06  

  • Viks,

    Excellent observation on betting....as a libertarian, I belive that it is not the goddamn business of the govt to decide what I do my money with -- if I want to splurge it in buying my own aircraft, it is my business.

    BY adding a 'moral' twist to this issue, what politicians end up doing is encourage all kind sof slimy people to make black money or channel their black money too. No wonder this gives power to scumbags like Dawood and Chota Shakeel....imagine if betting were legal...how much money would end up in the govt's coffers.

    These guys have no problems with dance bars...then why not allow people to bet?

    Arrrggggg...man, when will our guys wake up??


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 08:51  

  • actually in Bbay now apparently people have a problem with dance bars too ..
    Yeah, I dont get it- Horse racing betting is legal in desh .. but cricket and other sports .. not so much
    now if only every place was like Nevada .. but then i guess the saying 'What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas' wouldnt be so hot ..

    By Blogger Viks, at 09:49  

  • Frist thing first...well you can bet if the match is going to be 'done' in two days (which looks like it will be teh case at Lords....unless the English decide otherwise).

    Here is another idea worth considering. How about pooling the A sides of top (say) four teams and then divide the whole lot (of 14) into two groups. Then you will have enough teams in each group and some of the 'A' teams (like that of the Australia) may be even better than some of the top National teams!!!

    By Anonymous Ram, at 12:42  

  • Ram,

    Just to pile on your comments, but then we are talking of Test cricket b/w national teams, and not Tests between best teams of nations. Your suggestion would be more akin to the way Club Football is played esp in Europe. Get the best of the world, club them together and watch the fun.

    What Prem is alluding to is having a divisional approach with the best eleven of nations -- bottom two from first tier get relegated, top two from second tier get bumped up. And I agree that the calendar should be over two years. One year calendar would be too short, too cramped and not too practical (we have to consider the fact that nations have cricket playing seasons -- Aussies and NZ in winter, Englad in summer and early fall, etc)


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 13:38  

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