Everything is meant to change, but sports are expressions that bears an antique beauty that are meant to defy the scars of time. Football has been the same as it has been centuries ago, rugby has been the same as it has been centuries ago and same holds true for others. Yet, the game of cricket that has passed on to new generation is through rapid change in recent times, particularly after the 2000s. The question that sting every cricket lover is that if these changes have added value or are they working towards the opposite spur.
The change within cricket has been in several dimension, some of which are of course improving the game. For instance, emergence of franchise based cricket has changed viewer’s approach substantially. Before its advent, cricket was more about two nations confronting each other while spectators in the stadium are divided naturally along the line of their nationalities. This became a past in franchisee based cricket like Indian Premier League, Big Bash League and such games, where players from different nationalities play as a team. It becomes more about individual showdowns when it comes to spectators, as they naturally trend to follow their favorite players, who is not necessarily from their own national teams.
Many argue that Test cricket has been on life support while the format gradually seem to loss popularity. In contrast, updates from shorter format T20 matches are becoming more relevant to audience than any test cricket news. In this context, it must be highlighted that, franchise based cricket received the boost only after the birth of T20 games. The same maneuver can be reversed to save Test format as well. The tactic might come up to be a pragmatically successful one, but it is again dependent on how cricket lovers perceive it.
The move would further deem the relevance of national flags in international matches where viewers will have to choose their relevant teams rather than nationalities. This is further based on the crew with included players, who have been their favorites. Cricket has undergone much changes from the days of pink balls and free hits. Now bringing in the franchise model in Test cricket, it can be a winning bet to popularize the game.
Fitting Test cricket under the framework of franchisee setups on the likes of IPL will have more positive outcomes than that of negative ones. In fact, there is no negative aspect at all. Cricketers will have better options to work on the game, more players can be involved in matches and additionally, more spectators can be drawn in to Test matches.
There are another aspects integral to sustainability of Test cricket in modern times, which can emerge out as the Holy Grail for the game through the new model. These are business, money, advertisements and earnings of professional cricketers. Test cricketers are relatively paid less than players in other formats. Bringing in test cricket under the ambit of franchisee based games will have better impact on players in financial terms.
If test matches can be transformed into IPL like franchisees, it would be a grand rejuvenation for the format living on “life support.” As cricket has already changed a lot, it certainly has more rooms for further changes. It is well said that change is essential for progress and if Test cricket is in the position where it requires some progress, change too is inevitable.
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