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Twenty20 is a big challenge: ICC
Harish Kotian in Mumbai | April 16, 2008 19:01 IST
International Cricket Council Chief Executive Officer Malcolm Speed [Images] on Wednesday admitted that it will be a huge challenge to integrate Twenty20 cricket with the existing formats of ODIs and Test cricket.
"It's very healthy, and, as the current generation of cricket administrators, we have an interesting challenge and that is to integrate T20 cricket with the other two forms of the game. Not many sports have had a challenge like this if you look at other sports like tennis or basketball or hockey, football. It's generally one form of the game that is played.
"Cricket was originally played on a country versus country basis in Test cricket, and then in the late 1970s the 50-over cricket, and now we have the phenomenon of Twenty20 cricket," said Speed in Mumbai.
He said while domestic tournaments, like the Indian Premier League, are promoted, the administrators must not forget international cricket.
"What I also said to the board is that cricket as we know it is based on country versus country, nation versus nation and that's the lifeblood of the game. Up till now it has been the lifeblood of all of the members, including the BCCI, as that is where the BCCI's money comes from when they play against other countries. We need to be very careful that we preserve that," said Speed, who is the ICC [Images] CEO since 2001.
The veteran administrator said there is no rush or demand as of now to create a window for the IPL and the BCCI has still not approached the ICC for the same.
"The ICC Board agreed that it's too early to make a decision on this. And nobody asked for a window to be created including BCCI. They (BCCI) may do that in future as shall other countries.
"IPL hasn't started yet. Before we go carving windows in the structure, that is basis of the finances of all countries including the BCCI, let's see how good it is. There is no rush to do this. Whether a window is carved out in the FTP is a different issue that could pose a serious
problem for some countries, in particular West Indies [Images]. Their primary season coincides with the time IPL tournament is being planned. It also affects the other countries and how they tour. It is premature to change the fundamental structure of cricket. Let's see after the first season; there will be enough information to see as to how it should be structured," Speed opined.
The 59-year-old administrator said though the IPL has already achieved instant recognition, and given players' pocket a big boost, it has to work along with international cricket and not try to override it.
"I said to the board, and I say it you, that IPL is a good concept. If it's executed properly and can be integrated into nation versus nation cricket it can be very successful. But we need to proceed with caution. We don't need to change the nation-versus-nation structure of the game at this stage. Let's take our time and see how the IPL develops.
"I'm very pleased that BCCI has respected the request of the other members that there be a NOC [No Objection Certificate] so that they can object to their players playing in the IPL. I'm very pleased the BCCI has agreed that bilateral cricket between countries will take priority over IPL. They are two major fundamental points that will stand in favour of IPL and enable us to keep nation-versus-nation cricket going," Speed said.
While many former cricketers are worried that Twenty20 cricket is killing the traditional Test cricket, Speed says it is not a problem but rather a challenge to make it work along with the longer version of the game.
"I said to the ICC board in the very long paper I wrote in March this year that this current generation of cricket administrators will be judged not by how much money the game makes out of T20 cricket; it will be judged by how well we integrate T20 integrate into the other forms of the game. We regard it as a challenge, not a problem," he said.
Asked how the sport's governing body would judge the IPL's success, Speed replied: "The quality of cricket that is being played, quality of facilities where it is being played, the television coverage, the number of people watching on TV and on the ground."
Speed, however, pointed out that the ICC will also look at how much impact the IPL has on the player's workload.
"The effect it has on player workload. We've are seeing some teams go straight after IPL to play elsewhere in the world. The teams are going to play a long season in England [Images] and West Indies immediately after playing the IPL for six weeks. There will be an effect on their performance. We need to evaluate that. We're not introducing any concept of privatization yet. There are a number of positives from that but we need to be careful.
"We need to be careful because it is a new concept. We've seen the players meeting the demands put forward by the countries. Now they are doing the same for the franchisees. Now we've to see how both these things are to be balanced."