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Does Test cricket needs football-like ‘promotion and relegation’ system? Ravi Shastri sparks debate

Does Test cricket needs football-like ‘promotion and relegation’ system? Ravi Shastri sparks debate

Whether Shastri's relegation proposal gains traction remains to be seen, but it has certainly sparked a lively debate about how to keep Test cricket thriving.

The future of Test cricket was a hot topic at the inaugural World Cricket Connects event held at Lord’s Cricket Ground. Former India coach Ravi Shastri ignited a debate by proposing a radical shake-up: a two-tier Test system with promotion and relegation, similar to football leagues all around the world.

Ravi Shastri believes this system would create a more competitive Test arena. The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which hosted the event, stated, “(Shastri) proposed a competitive Test structure with promotion and relegation to maintain interest.”

Global Cricket faces challenges

Shastri wasn’t alone in calling for changes. The global cricket landscape is facing challenges. Greg Barclay, Chair of the ICC, opened the discussion by highlighting the packed cricket calendar and the difficulty of balancing growth with financial realities. Collaboration, he stressed, is key to navigating these issues.

T20 boom and balancing format

Another key theme was the importance of managing the booming Twenty20 format. Ravi Shastri, while acknowledging its financial clout, previously advocated for the ICC to solely handle T20 World Cups, scrapping bilateral T20 matches.

Shifting power dynamics

The discussion also explored the changing balance of power in cricket. Graeme Smith, former South African captain, pointed out that Test cricket is primarily played by just six nations. He cautioned against simplistic solutions like dedicated Test windows, favoured by Australian captain Pat Cummins.

Finding ways to ensure financial sustainability was another focus. Sanjog Gupta, Head of Sports at Star & Disney India, emphasised the need for a balance between commercial interests and regulations, while Ramiz Raja, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), highlighted the challenges faced by Pakistan due to limited bilateral series with India. He proposed better stadium facilities, innovative formats like triangular series, and a review of Test series scheduling.

Globalising Cricket: Olympics and brand expansion

Globalisation was another area of discussion. Andrew Strauss, former England captain, saw the Olympics as a potential platform to introduce cricket to new audiences. Venky Mysore, CEO of the Kolkata Knight Riders, stressed the importance of expanding cricket’s brands and fanbases worldwide to create year-round engagement and new markets.

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Gathering of Influential Cricket figures

The event brought together influential figures from across cricket, including representatives from national cricket boards, the IPL, broadcasters, and player associations. Cricket legends like Kevin Pietersen, Brendon McCullum, Kumar Sangakkara, Jhulan Goswami, and Ravi Shastri himself were also present.

Will Relegation Save Test Cricket?

The World Cricket Connects discussion generated a range of ideas for shaping cricket’s future. Whether Shastri’s relegation proposal gains traction remains to be seen, but it has certainly sparked a lively debate about how to keep Test cricket thriving.

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