Indian cricket team head coach Ravi Shastri believes that T20 cricket should follow the football formula to make it more interesting, saying the bilateral series are meaningless.
With franchise cricket spreading its roots across the world, Shastri said the franchise cricket should be the future when it comes to the shorter format of the game, like the way club football is played across Europe, in order to spread the game in different countries and take it to the Olympics.
Speaking to The Guardian, Shastri said: “I would like to see less and less bilateral T20 cricket. Look at football. You have the Premier League, the Spanish league, the Italian league, the German league. They all come together [for the Champions League]. There are few bilateral football [friendlies] now.”
He added, “The national teams only play for the World Cup or World Cup qualifying [and other major tournaments like the European Championships, Copa America, and the Africa Cup of Nations]. I think that’s the way T20 cricket should go. Spread the game in different countries, and take it to the Olympics. But cut down on those bilateral games and give time for the players to rest, recuperate and play Test cricket.”
The former Indian captain has further mentioned that he doesn’t even remember a single white-ball game over his long tenure with the Indian cricket team as director and then head coach, saying the white-ball cricket only makes sense when it comes to major tournaments.
He explained, “There is enough franchised cricket. That is working. But what is the point of bilateral? In my seven years with this Indian team, I don’t remember one white-ball game. If you win a World Cup final you will remember it and that’s the only thing left for me as a coach. Otherwise, you bloody cleaned up everything across the globe. I don’t remember a single [white-ball] game. Test matches?
I remember every ball. Everything. But the volume is too much. We beat Australia 3-0 in the T20 series. We beat New Zealand 5-0 in New Zealand. Who cares? But beating Australia in two-Test series in Australia? Winning Tests in England? I remember that.”
Apart from the franchise cricket, the cricket boards earn plenty of money through bilateral series, even in the T20 format, but not many countries make money through the traditional format of the game – Test cricket and Shastri said that’s the area where the right balance needs to be struck.
He signed off by saying, “Correct. So you need the right balance. Money is important because it can be put into the grassroots. The top players still want to play Test match cricket but, barring England and Australia, very few countries make money through it. In India, it’s beginning to pick up because of the way India play. We go for the win because Test cricket is the ultimate.”