The MCC World Cricket Committee (WCC) met at Lord’s on the 1 & 2 July - discussing topics from Zimbabwe to pink cricket balls.
MCC World Cricket Committee recommend a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe
After speaking with cricketers, administrators and politicians in his native country, Andy Flower delivered an informed presentation to his MCC World Cricket Committee colleagues on the status of cricket in Zimbabwe.
The presentation and subsequent discussion covered the full range of moral, ethical, political and cricketing considerations that need to be addressed in assessing whether MCC sends a touring party to the country in 2011.
As a result, the MCC World Cricket Committee recommended the main MCC Committee undertakes a swift but thorough fact-finding trip to gauge its suitability as a touring venue.
MCC World Cricket Committee: we are ready for day / night Test cricket now
The MCC World Cricket Committee believes that the time is right to play day/night Test match cricket, with a pink ball, in countries where Test attendances have dropped markedly.
Three years of intensive research culminated in a trial of the pink ball at the MCC v Champion County match in Abu Dhabi in late March.
This match proved one thing about playing first-class day / night cricket with a pink ball – it works.
Cricket authorities should not delay its introduction any further.
MCC believes that Test match cricketers – even when playing under floodlights – should always wear white clothing, to maintain the game’s best traditions and to ensure Test cricket remains distinct from the ODI and T20 formats.
MCC World Cricket Committee make a call to action for Test match cricket
The MCC World Cricket Committee fears for the future of Test match cricket and has called for the ICC and its Full Member Countries to better promote the longest and purest form of the game.
Twelve months after stating the need for a World Test Championship and seven months since presenting a blueprint for such a competition to the ICC, the Committee feels that the following necessary action should be taken immediately to re-invigorate Test cricket:
Introduce a World Test Championship to provide the wider context for each Test Series
Ensure that Test matches are played on pitches that offer a fair balance between bat and ball
Financially reward players to ensure that Test cricket is an attractive proposition
Invest in marketing of the Test game to improve crowd and television audiences
MCC’s research from India, New Zealand and South Africa, published in November 2009, showed that the cricketing public in these countries wanted to watch day/night Test cricket and were strongly in favour of a World Test Championship
Fairer pitches, such as the ones England recently encountered in South Africa – which offered bounce and some assistance to the bowlers – rather than in Bangladesh – which were low, slow and batsmen-friendly - would also help to improve the game as a spectacle.
With T20 riches on offer, the Committee feel that national governing bodies should do all that they can to retain their best talent and ensure Test cricket is a financially rewarding career.
There are freelance cricketers who see a profitable career in playing shorter forms of the game only; the Committee wants to guard against an increase in their number.
MCC has today published new research into how televised cricket viewing patterns in India have changed in recent years.
The results were striking yet unsurprising. Only 11% of all cricket watched in India was Test cricket, compared to 33% in 2004. T20 has emerged as the clear favourite format of the game, both in stadia and on television, which strengthens the calls for more to be done to promote Test cricket.
The Committee was heartened to hear from Rahul Dravid that, due to the efforts of the BCCI and other cricket authorities, India will play an increased number of Tests in the coming months.
The Committee understands that market forces will always dictate what type of cricket spectators want to watch and that you cannot force people to watch Test match cricket.
At the moment, however, cricket authorities around the world need to make a more concerted effort to attract audiences to Test cricket: a World Test Championship, played by well-rewarded cricketers – on fair pitches – at a time of the day to suit the paying public, would provide the Test game with the boost it requires.
Mandatory ball change: no longer required in One Day cricket
Since 2007, MCC has been working with scientists and manufacturers to develop durable, coloured cricket balls.
Following a number of presentations at the meeting, the MCC World Cricket Committee unanimously believes that these balls are now ready to use and should be incorporated into domestic and international cricket around the world.
Manufacturers have made significant progress in recent months in deep-dying the leather which creates a ball which will not discolour.
A pink ball could effectively be used in 50 over cricket tomorrow without the mandatory ball change after 34 overs – and thus bring back the skill of reverse swing bowling at the end of an ODI innings.
The Committee also understands that a new white ball has just been produced that will last the full 50 overs, although this requires a trial as soon as practicable.
Immediate trials with coloured balls in first-class cricket will, the Committee feels, prove beyond doubt that they are viable for use in Test matches as well.
Three years of the Indian Premier League
Rahul Dravid presented his thoughts after three years of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to the MCC World Cricket Committee.
The Indian batsman described how the IPL franchises have learned to maximise their brand, reach new markets and become profitable ventures.
He also talked about how the IPL has changed the training and coaching methods of players, with an IPL contract being seen as a crucial target for aspiring Indian cricketers.
He was concerned, however, that parents of talented children were asking coaches to teach them T20-specific skills only, such are the rewards of an IPL contract.
Dravid felt that, while the occasional player has emerged as a T20 specialist, the best performing IPL cricketers are those with the skills to play all forms of the game and who can adapt to all match situations.
The Committee believes the IPL to have been a great success and something that has captured the public’s imagination.
However, it is also concerned about the proliferation of fixtures both in the IPL and in other domestic T20 tournaments and warns against the danger of overkill at the expense of longer forms of the game.