My prediction For Future Of Cricket

In a book called “Cricket Wallah,” I stared into a crystal ball rather than a leather ball and predicted: “Not many years later, while the game grew up thousands of kilometers abroad, India is destined to become the capital of cricket. A gang of British cricket journalists has transported to Spain twenty winters ago. The England and Wales Cricket Board sought to introduce a new format, and since Lord MacLaurin was the chairman, the marketing was exceptional.

During the weekend party, we were even polled on the name of the new tournament, even though the designer, Stuart Robertson, had most likely already settled on Twenty20. League games of 20 overs each side were long established in the north of England, thanks to the additional hours of sunshine in the summer, although a bowler may bowl up to 10 overs. By restricting the maximum to four overs and transforming it from an amateur to a professional format, the ECB unleashed a force that has transformed the sport, with all of its intended and unexpected effects.

And, since T20 did not exist 20 years ago, it would now be foolhardy to look beyond the next two decades to forecast how professional cricket would alter. One certainty is that T20 will continue to increase at all levels of the sport, becoming a larger percentage of total cricket played. We merely need to glance around the globe. Three Test matches have been played in the recent week, as is customary in the southern hemisphere and south Asia, at the usual pace of three and a half runs per over.

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Jonny Bairstow has thrived in all three forms Of Cricket

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However, the Big Bash in Australia, the Super Smash in New Zealand, the Sri Lanka T20 tournament, and the inauguration of two new franchise competitions, the SA20 in South Africa and the International League T20 in the UAE, all take place concurrently. The West Indies’ white-ball trip to Pakistan has been canceled due to financial constraints. Since professionalization started in Australia a decade ago, women’s cricket has almost taken off vertically.

The ICC Women’s Under-19 World Cup is set to begin in South Africa, with teams from as far away as Indonesia, Rwanda, Scotland, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates competing, followed by the Women’s Senior T20 World Cup in February. The Women’s T20 World Cup 2022 had 1.64 billion views, making it the most-watched women’s sports event in history. Cricket is a non-contact, but athletic and healthful team activity that attracts people of all sizes, genders, ages, and abilities, from international stars to hospitalized toddlers.

Franchise cricket, which mostly consists of 20-over games but also includes 10 overs on each side, is filling the void left by uninspired, if not indifferent, national cricket boards. Whether as the International Cricket Council or by arranging bilateral series, these “leaders” allowed the Indian Premier League and its imitators to grow by making so much of the international calendar so vapid – filled with two-Test series that is over before most people notice, and white-ball series that have no context that means anything to the public.

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The World Test Championship, which consists of one game every two years, is only a start, or a sop, and players have not required a second invitation to earn more money. A year ago, I would have said that in the next 20 years, Test cricket would be restricted to Australia, England, and India and that if two other nations played a Test match, nobody would notice.

That 50-over internationals will be limited to a World Cup every few years, as opposed to the T20 World Cup, and the rest will be 20-over franchise cricket, centered on the two months of the IPL every spring in India and the two months of the IPL every autumn in the United States if, or rather when, a second IPL takes off there. This was the trend of worldwide professional cricket, the marginalization of all forms other than franchise T20, until England’s Test captain, Ben Stokes, was selected and started his campaign to resurrect Test cricket.

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It’s a red-ball revolution, and there are indications that the county championship may follow suit and stop becoming a fight of attrition for batting bonus points in high-scoring draws. If the other Test-playing countries follow England’s lead and score more than a run per ball, as they did in the first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi in early December, and at 5.5 per over in the series overall, the question becomes: why would anybody find any white-ball format more entertaining? Indian fans will always go to see their heroes, such as Virat Kohli, but a cricket match played to a finish at a fast pace over a few days is inherently more dramatic than one lasting a few hours.

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Harry Brook’s performance during England’s tour of Pakistan exemplified how Ben Stokes wants his team to compete.

The beauty of Stokes’ England’s Test cricket style is that it attracts new and marginal spectators to the sport, like the Hundred does, without alienating the old, conventional audience, as the Hundred does. Will other nations follow England’s lead and urge their Test players to utilize all white-ball skills? I doubt many people will bother to watch any two-Test series because they are inherently uninteresting.

But if countries other than Australia, England, and India revolutionize their Test cricket on Stokesian lines and attract crowds back, bringing broadcasters and sponsors with them, then Test cricket will remain the highest format, and the only cricketers who do not play it, and go off to the franchise circuits will be those who cannot play it.

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What about the future? A complete revolution

The future is up for grabs. As we speak, test cricket is in limbo. In cricket, 2023 will be equal to 1790 in politics. The revolution has started. We are seeing something unprecedented, yet hopeful. What I foresee is that India will continue to be the financial center of cricket, with different IPL clubs acquiring franchises in the West Indies, South Africa, and the UAE. Except for status, these corporations will provide the young cricketer with more of everything.  Nobody will be knighted for their contributions to T20 franchises.

A T20 tournament is analogous to a television series that airs for a month or two before being forgotten and replaced by the following season. A single Test match may live on in the thoughts of many people. Globally, the ICC’s development officers have done an excellent job of expanding the game across Anglophone nations or those where English is the language Franca: the world’s most promising young cricketers have been offered a road to the top.

The objective is to expand the game beyond non-Anglophone South Asian groups. Meanwhile, we can only marvel, and with some awe, at cricket’s pliability. Is there any sport that has been played across every period between one hour – a five-over game cut short by rain – and 10 days, like cricket?

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