I was surprised to see Brendon McCullum jumping on the bandwagon to proclaim that T20 will be the only form of cricket in the future.
In an interview with Cricket Monthly, the former captain of New Zealand, who has 101 Tests to his name, said: ‘I firmly believe that Test cricket won’t be around in time, because there’s only so many teams that can afford to play it.’
McCullum retired from international cricket in 2016 and now, like a hired gunslinger, plays in the IPL, the BBL, the CPL, the PSL and the BPL.
He added that, long-term, he foresees T20 franchises as owning players… ‘and I don’t see them releasing those players to play for their nation in a Test match’.
What an utterly bleak prospect that is. It’s a bit like saying that after a nuclear war, the only living creatures will be cockroaches.
This is not a new idea… except that it has previously been limited to the IPL.
IPL founder Lalit Modi believes that if restrictions were relaxed, players could soon be earning $1-million a game. The best players in the world, he says, will dedicate themselves solely to (IPL) T20.
He even suggested that India didn’t need anyone else; the economy there would be big enough to sustain the IPL as the only tournament worth watching. He compared it to the money washing though European football, perhaps forgetting that their season lasts 10 months, not six weeks.
The problem, I believe, is that players would have to reinvent themselves. The value of AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and McCullum, to name just a few, lay in their displays in Test cricket.
I also can’t quite work out the logistics of McCullum’s idea. If the franchises owned the players, they would have to find something for the players to do outside the six weeks of the IPL. Certainly, they could try to own all the T20 leagues across the world and take their players through England, Australia, the Caribbean, Pakistan (errr, skip that one), Bangladesh, and, maybe, South Africa.
The problem with that is the governing bodies wouldn’t allow it. They know that T20 is the cash cow, but the very raison d’etre of cricket lies in Test cricket, and T20 will fund it.
Can you imagine a cricket world without AB and Kohli in whites, playing their supreme shots against the best bowling attacks in the world? That is what defines them.
Otherwise, it will come down to a lot of opportunists with very short lifespans. T2o needs Test cricket as much as Test cricket needs T20.