Sydney, Jan 4: Nick Hockley, the CEO of Cricket Australia (CA), admitted that South Africa sending a weakened team for the Test tour of New Zealand has been a "wake-up call" for everyone and added that the governing body will always prioritise international cricket.
South Africa named a 14-man squad for the New Zealand Test tour happening in February, to be captained by opener Neil Brand, who is amongst the seven uncapped players in the team. Capped Test players in the squad will be batters David Bedingham, Zubayr Hamza and Keegan Petersen, currently playing in the series against India.
Other capped players on tour of New Zealand include batter Khaya Zondo, fast-bowling pair of Duanne Olivier and Dane Paterson, and spinner Dane Piedt. Cricket South Africa (CSA) has chosen to field a weakened Test squad due to the series clashing with the second season of SA20 league at home.
“I think that’s been a wake-up call for everyone. The role of T20 as I mentioned earlier (is) bringing new kids into the game, new people into the game, can’t be underestimated. Their T20 comp as compared to the Big Bash, we’re in our 13th edition, they’re in their second (edition).”
“For me I think the two can co-exist and I think that is, if anything, this was some really suboptimal scheduling. We in Australia, it’s very clear that throughout the whole period of the Big Bash, we’ve always prioritised international cricket, we’ve always prioritised Test cricket and we will always do that.”
“This has shun a light, certainly we will be working with the ICC, working with scheduling groups to make sure those types of clashes don’t manifest and really champion the fact that people need to be prioritising international cricket,” said Hockley on SEN Radio.
With the debate increasing on future of Test cricket, Hockley also said they will be pushing for the World Test Championship to be a minimum of three matches. As of now, rules allow for a two-match series to happen. Australia’s next Test assignment will be against West Indies, but only of two matches.
"The preference is a minimum three-Test series. So we'll keep advocating and championing that. I do think there is work to be done on the FTP (Future Tours Programme) going forward, and it's really (about) cementing the World Test Championship, (and) really advocating for three-Test series as an absolute minimum."
"And then as best as we possibly can, making sure that (when it comes to) domestic T20 competitions, we minimise the overlap for those countries where it is an important source of revenue, so that every country is prioritising international - and particularly Test – cricket," he added.
West Indies will be playing Tests in Australia with a squad featuring seven uncapped players. “The West Indies situation has been a bit longer in the making. If you speak to the vast, vast majority of players, they all want to play Test cricket, if you speak to coaching staff, Test cricket is where people really hone their craft.”
“I think it’s incumbent to work together to get the scheduling right and to be supporting the other countries to be supporting (international cricket). I know it remains to be seen how strong they are, they’ve got some younger talent coming out and they’ll be wanting to make a name for themselves. The question is how long can we keep people in the international game before they move on to T20 competitions,” stated Hockley.
He also believes the nations outside of Australia, England and India would be committed to the future of Test cricket, but admitted the finances of the format were a challenge. "The challenge is the economics. There are parts of the world where the revenue from the T20, ODI and a Test are the same, yet the costs of putting on a Test are significantly higher."
"What we've seen over the last few years in Australia, what we're seeing this summer, and what we saw in the UK over the English summer is that Test cricket is really thriving in certain countries. And in that sense, it is a bit of a two-speed economy. The challenge is that we continue to support those countries that are struggling a little bit more in terms of Test cricket." (IANS)