There’s been a lot of talk in recent months about the growing power of Twenty20 matches. While it once seemed like this form of cricket would be set to dominate international fixtures for the foreseeable future, this could all be set to change. The International Cricket Council (ICC) is set to consider a series of radical proposals designed to stem the talent drain caused by domestic Twenty20. Could this be the solution to cricket’s ongoing problem and even save Test Cricket?
Cricket at a crossroads
As it stands, cricket is heading towards division. The rise of Twenty20 is causing some professionals, including England Head Coach Trevor Bayliss, to voice concern about the knock-on effects to other forms of cricket. There is a growing acceptance among cricket administrators that the primacy of internationals – Test cricket in particular – is being diminished by the proliferation of short-form tournaments. They believe that if this is left unchecked, it could cause irreversible damage to the sport.
As a result of this, three major cricket nations – West Indies, England and Australia – are all pushing for a change to the regulations.
What change could we see?
With this push, the ICC is considering major changes to Twenty20. To that end, the chief executives of the full member national boards will come together at the next ICC meeting in Kolkata in April. Here they will debate a discussion paper on the possible future landscape for domestic Twenty20 cricket within the world game.
There are several recommendations made in this proposal, which could change the sport as we know it. They include:
- Restricting players under 32 to three domestic T20 leagues per year
- Regional T20 windows that leave six months of the year clear for international cricket from 2023 onwards
- All leagues to pay 20% of a player’s contract value to their home board as mandatory compensation
- Capping the number of overseas players in each domestic T20 league
- Standardised conditions that guarantee player welfare and payment
Leading the charge
There is growing unrest among major cricketing nations regarding the loss of homegrown talent and money being lost through Twenty20, which allows players to compete in other nation’s leagues.
The West Indies, for example, estimates that for every junior cricketer who reaches international level, around $1m has been invested. But once they get there, a number of players disappear into the domestic leagues. Five of these fall during the traditional Caribbean season from October to March, meaning they are unable to play in these matches.
As a result, this push for greater global regulation for Twenty20 is currently being led by the West Indies. It is understood to have the full support of Australia and England, with the global players’ union, Fica, welcoming the elements that provide its members with greater security.
If these new regulations to the game are brought in, we could see a monumental change to the cricketing landscape. Without Twenty20 set to dominate, test Match cricket may gain back more talent. Obviously, this is stemming from the fear that the grassroots of the sport could wither without proper regulation.
Yet, with Twenty20 such a popular form of cricket, any decisions made here are sure to divide fans. While some purists may be glad at these regulations, lovers of the short-form may lament the loss of talent. It remains unclear how the ICC will rule, but I believe one thing is for sure – cricket cannot continue on this unregulated path for long.