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Restrict Tests to 6-7 nations; spread game through T20s: Shastri

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New Delhi, July 8: Former India cricketer and head coach Ravi Shastri said Test cricket should be restricted to games between six or seven nations, while the responsibility of spreading the game worldwide should happen through the T20 format. Of late, despite making for riveting drama, Test cricket’s appeal has been declining, mainly due to the rise of T20 leagues around the world, something which instantly catches the attention of younger audiences.
“When you don’t have quality, that is when the ratings drop, there are fewer people in the crowd, its meaningless cricket, which is the last thing sport wants. You have 12 Test match teams. Bring it down to six or seven and have a promotion and relegation system.”
“You can have two tiers but let the top six keep playing to sustain the interest in Test cricket. You can spread the game (in the world) in other formats, like T20,” said Shastri at the MCC World Cricket Connects event at the Lord’s.
The MCC President, Mark Nicholas said money coming from T20 cricket might be the only way to sustain the game’s finances. “T20 cricket is the behemoth that everybody wants. It is where the new market is, where the fans are, and where the money is. In cricket, money is seen as a dirty word but it shouldn’t be because it is the only way to sustain the game.”
Former Australia opener and head coach Justin Langer said he wished for international cricket to be protected due to its impact on youngsters, citing West Indies fast bowler Shamar Joseph’s memorial Test debut in Australia earlier this year.
“It had Australia enthralled and it brought the Caribbean to life. Last week we saw a million people turn up to see India celebrate winning the World Cup. That is bilateral cricket and international cricket.”
Lord’s, the iconic cricket venue, will be hosting the first England-West Indies Test on July 10, which is also the farewell match of veteran pacer James Anderson.
Speaking about the attention of the upcoming Test series, Johnny Grave, CEO of Cricket West Indies (CWI) said, “It’s probably the pinnacle Test series that we play, it’s the barometer of how the team are developing.” “We’re coming off a high, obviously it’s a long gap since that amazing day at the Gabba, and for a number of the players, this will be the first time they’ve ever played at Lord’s. They’re playing for the Richards-Botham Trophy, the ultimate example of friendship and camaraderie between England and West Indies.”
“So being here it’s always special, but I think for our players to hopefully announce themselves to the English audience with a Test series at Lord’s is fantastic,” he concluded. (IANS)

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