International cricket needs more context and support from administrators to stop players from choosing lucrative Twenty20 leagues over the traditional test format, former England captain Mike Brearley has said.
Brearley cites the example of South African AB de Villiers, who is sitting out of the ongoing test series in England and is tipped to retire from tests this year to prolong his career in limited-overs cricket.
“My view is that not everything that could be done to preserve and encourage international and especially test cricket has yet been done,” Brearley, the outgoing chairman of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) world cricket committee, wrote in a column for the Times.
“ICC (International Cricket Council) is trying to make improvements to scheduling and to context. The countries need to make a big push for increased context, including proper competition through a test championship.
“They must create windows for test cricket and be willing to try out all sorts of measures more day-night matches, lower gate charges in some places, offering spectators more and using every resource to publicise test cricket and create stars.”
Brearley, however, acknowledged the players have a right to earn their livelihood.
“There is no blame attached to the individuals for making such choices,” said the 75-year-old who played 39 tests between 1976 and 1981.
“We all know that a cricketing career is a doubtful matter, depending as it does on fitness, form, and selectorial whims.”
The first test at Lord’s between England and South Africa drew good spectators which boosted Brearley’s faith in the traditional five-day format of the game.
“As this entertaining if one-sided match showed, and as the high percentage of results and high quality over the past year or two reinforces, test cricket is in good form on the pitch,” he said.
“Let’s do everything we can to keep it there.”