World cricket divided into haves and have-nots

Rahul DravidIndia, where the IPL is now six years old, is a good laboratory to test that hypothesis. Players who donít have a base in four day cricket, have tended to become one season wonders (Reuters)

Rahul Dravid's eloquent plea for test cricket, his words have the same grace as his shots, needs to be taken seriously, as does his thesis that T20 needs test cricket. And he makes an old-fashioned plea for not putting profits through television rights above the greater need to develop sport. It is interesting too that it comes at a time when the game's parents have been obsessing over whether a mark on a bat is good for the game. Also Read: Dravid wants an open approach towards day-night Tests

You would expect Dravid to say what he does and to be fair to him, the manner in which he thought about and played cricket is consistent with what he advocates. But I can see those that run the game tut-tutting about romantics not making good businessmen. Of those that earn money from the game, the ICC is doing fairly well so are India, England and Australia and there aren't alarm bells ringing in the accountants office in South Africa either. But of the others Sri Lanka is broke, so, by their admission, is Pakistan. New Zealand are very honest about the state of their finances and the West Indies aren't exactly rolling in wealth. And there is some debate on whether Zimbabwe cricket is broke or has been broken into. That means a majority of cricket's constituents are either struggling to stay afloat or are waiting for the next payout from the ICC which derives its own income from television rights and attendant benefits. Like with the world of economics that Dravid so charmingly alludes to, cricket is split between the haves and the have-nots.

The haves don't mind playing test cricket because their lucrative television deals cover that. But outside of the top four, there are virtually no television deals and so they must offer the market what it craves for. And what the market wants in these countries is fast food, not fine dining. These countries, to be able to afford to play home tests, must generate revenue from what the market demands. And while the market makes the right noises about test cricket, it does so much like people support social causes; it rarely extends beyond words and into actual support. So to that extent, test cricket, at least in these countries, needs T20 and not the other way around.

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