The much-written-about and frequently championed division of Test cricket into two leagues of seven and five won’t happen now because India’s BCCI has refused to support it. It was a good idea, if not ideal, but at least it was an idea. Recent weeks have confirmed that Test cricket is truly on life-support and something has to be done to revive it – or even give it a chance.
Just in case South African cricket lovers haven’t noticed, the Indian Soccer League is profoundly successful, as is the Chinese national league. Both are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on recruiting players and coaches and, more importantly, both are gaining even more viewers.
The entire global cricket game is propped up on the back of the viewership of the Indian market. They watch because they have many star players and national pride is suitably and rightly buffed. But the same viewers also watch the English Premier League soccer. And there is a great deal of evidence to suggest they like it more than cricket, even the IPL.
So what happens when India produce their first EPL player? And they will, because there are 1.2 billion Indians and they enjoy soccer – a lot. The moment a player is contracted by Manchester United and starts scoring goals, there can be no doubt where Indian TV audiences will go. The bottom will fall out of the cricket market faster than a bad prawn curry. Actually, never mind Manchester United. Bournemouth or Burnley will do.
Cricket’s international administrators don’t to need react fast, because that will be too late. The moment they are ‘reacting’, they have already lost. They need to be proactive. Cricket is neither a global game nor mass-market. Soccer is. The proof is there for all to see – that’s why the game hasn’t, and can’t grow. In fact, it is shrinking.
Anyway, the good news is that the Proteas decline isn’t quite as dramatic as we all think. Number one in the world to number seven in a year may look and feel horrible, but the team is still a lot closer to number one than number eight!
The Proteas have 92 points which is a lot closer to 1st (111 points) than 8th (67 points). A win in Centurion will close the gap a bit further. Here’s hoping.
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