Following completion of FICA’s annual player survey, and ahead of further discussions at ICC level on the structure of international cricket, the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) today urged the ICC to deliver a clear and compelling future for international cricket, which includes meaningful change to competition structures. FICA is supportive of improving, and adding context to all three formats of international cricket, ensuring a structure that delivers better clarity and balance between the formats, and one that will address the continued decline in popularity of much of international cricket. Cricket needs a new international structure now to allow it to survive and thrive in the future.
“It is clear that there is a ground swell of opinion around the world that the current structure of international cricket is not serving the game globally, and that the status quo is not good enough for the long term future success of cricket” Tony Irish, FICA Executive Chairman said.
“We have been involved in the ongoing discussions on the structure of the game, on behalf of players, and there is no doubt that the game’s stakeholders have a unique opportunity to be bold and to provide a compelling future for the international game. The entire cricket economy, including all professional players, both international and domestic, is highly dependent on international cricket. To ensure its survival the game needs to evolve. It has many strengths and its rich history must be protected, but it is time to significantly move the game forward. That is not an easy task, but thinking globally, and not based on regional or country interests, is a good place to start” Irish continued.
“To date, the issue that has been talked about most is Test cricket, but we believe that this review is about creating clear visions for all three formats of international cricket, and balancing them alongside the continued expansion and success of the various domestic T20 cricket leagues. We know from our player surveys, and our engagement with players, that they are facing a conflict between international cricket and domestic T20 cricket leagues. This is a fundamental issue that we want any future structure of the game to address. Our concern is that if nothing is done, international cricket may very soon lose more and more of its best players to free agency and the T20 leagues.”
“This re-structuring of international cricket should be about providing a better sporting product for fans, players and broadcasters. ICC management has done some excellent work on this, and we strongly encourage Member Boards to look beyond their own individual country interests in taking this forward. We understand that not everyone is in agreement over the divisional Test structure currently proposed, but this should not derail the entire process. We urge the game to thoroughly explore all potential options to create a coherent new structure that adds more context and meaning to all matches. It is time for global, collective thinking.”
World Player Views
• AB de Villiers, South Africa: “We have already raised our intensity and urgency just knowing that a Test league might happen. There is nothing like the pressure and adrenaline that comes with knowing you need to win matches. It’s time for all international matches to have more meaning.”
• Jason Holder, West Indies: “Creating windows (for domestic T20 tournaments) would make the whole situation a lot easier as players would not be forced to choose. If players could play both domestic T20 and international cricket, it would definitely help to keep players in international cricket.”
• Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh: “It would be a great thing for Bangladesh to play more regular international cricket. I have been playing for 10 years and have only played 42 Tests. If I was from India or England I would have had the opportunity to play double that amount.”
• Steve Smith, Australia: ”We want our best players to be on the park as much as possible playing for our countries, and at the moment that isn’t always happening. Players should absolutely have a say in the future of the game. We are the ones out there doing the job, we have a close up view of what’s happening in the game, and it is important we are involved in decision making.”
• Ross Taylor, New Zealand: “We need to find ways of keeping our players. To survive as a cricket nation, we need our top players playing for New Zealand and not retiring early.”
Additional Player Data
FICA has recently conducted its 2016 player survey of 193 current professional players from all seven FICA affiliated countries, including 111 international players. Notable, selected results relevant to the structure of cricket include:
• Despite overwhelmingly indicating that Test cricket is the most important format to play in, more than 52% of all international respondents in the current structure still indicated that they would consider rejecting a national contract in favour of free agency in domestic T20 leagues;
• 70% of all respondents think there should be “ring fenced” windows in the calendar for certain domestic T20 events to prevent clashes with international cricket;
• 75% of all respondents think that closing the wage gap between domestic T20 and international cricket would help to retain players in international cricket;
• 72% of all respondents would support the introduction of a divisional Test competition to add more meaning to each match;
• 75% of all respondents would support the introduction of a Test match final/play off match.
FICA International Cricket Structural Review
FICA released its International Cricket Structural Review earlier this year, in which FICA encouraged the ICC and Member Boards to focus on the following key issues in the ongoing discussions:
1. Global thinking: for the good of the global game;
2. Balancing the three formats better and working together with domestic T20: introducing windows for T20 leagues where possible;
3. International cricket should be “best v best”: players should not be forced to choose between club and country, and scheduling between formats should generally not conflict;
4. All International cricket needs context and it needs to be competitive: new competition structures with context, based on merit, should enable this;
5. Providing clarity in the calendar and fair protections for players: in regulations and contract structures;
6. Retaining talent in the international game by redistributing money more equitably to help close player wage gaps between domestic T20 and international cricket: this does not mean players from top earning countries should be paid less. Players from all countries should be paid fairly
7. Clear pathways for associate countries, based on merit