IPL hastening Test cricket’s death, says MCC panel

Test cricket is on the verge of a sad death in most countries with more and more players considering an Indian Premier League (IPL) contract their ultimate goal, according to the MCC World Cricket Committee.

Future of the game’s longer version dominated the two-day meeting of the panel at Lord’s that concluded Tuesday with the committee recommending a World Test Championship, trial of day/night Test cricket and pink balls to revive the format’s fortune.

“Except for certain icon series, such as the Ashes, Test cricket throughout the world, and in particular the lower-ranked nations, is in very real danger of dying,” the committee said in a statement.

Underlining IPL’s impact on the longer version of the game, the committee said, ” MCC’s research proved that attendances at Test cricket have declined in recent years. In addition, there is a growing ambivalence towards the longer format of the game from cricketers in certain nations, with player surveys revealing that an Indian Premier League (IPL) contract was the main career aspiration for many.”

IPL’s stupendous success also poses the risk of triggering premature retirement among players, feared the panel.

“The committee is deeply concerned that the proliferation of lucrative domestic Twenty20 leagues, such as the Indian Premier League, will lead to the premature retirement of quality international cricketers.

“Those from the lower-ranked Test nations could be particularly susceptible to such a career choice, based on earnings alone,” it added.

In such a situation, a World Test Championship would reinvigorate players, spectators and broadcasters for what is the pinnacle of the game, the committee said.

“There are already World Championships in twenty and fifty-over cricket. World cricket needs a World Test Championship and it needs one within the short-term. Work should commence immediately on devising the appropriate format,” it noted.

The panel also felt that administrators have failed to market Test cricket.

“The committee believes Test cricket is not marketed sufficiently around the world, certainly not to the same extent as other forms of the game, and that crucial to its success is a focused and well-resourced marketing strategy,” it said.

The committee endorsed day-night Tests and said a trial should take place within the next 12 months.

After hearing endorsements from panel members Shaun Pollock and Steve Waugh, who had both been involved with trials of various coloured balls, the committee was unanimous in its support of the pink ball, which would enable Test cricket to continue to be played in white clothing.

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