Former India head coach Ravi Shastri stated that Test cricket should be restricted to only the top six teams in the format. Shastri, who is currently working in the United Kingdom for Sky Sports as a member of their commentary team, further said that emphasis has to be put on white-ball cricket and that it can be used to spread the game all over the world, citing the football model.
“You cannot have 12 teams or ten teams. You keep the top six, keep the quality and respect quality over quantity. That’s the only way you open a window for other cricket to be played. Expand teams in one-day cricket and T20 cricket if you want the game to spread. But Test cricket will have to reduce the number of teams that play.”
“The bottom line, it’s the football model. You’ve got the EPL, La Liga, the German league, the South America Copa America. In the future it’s going to be like that, you’ll have one World Cup, the big one and then the rest of it will be all different leagues happening around the world,” said Shastri.
Adding to the way he wants the Test format, Shastri insisted that the format wouldn’t be limited to only six sides, but teams will have to qualify for being part of the top six to be able to play the format. As per current rankings, the top six ranked teams in Test cricket are Australia, India, South Africa, England, New Zealand and Pakistan.
As per Shastri’s proposal, teams such as West Indies, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka would miss out on playing Tests, so as do Afghanistan and Ireland, which aren’t on the Test rankings yet.
“Whether it’s India, Australia, or England you have to qualify for red-ball series if you want to be around to play Test match cricket. Then it doesn’t matter if England doesn’t go to the West Indies, or West Indies come to England. If they’re in the top six, they play, but if they’re not in the top six they don’t play.”
In complete contrast to Shastri’s views, West Indies beat England 1-0 in a three-match series in March while Sri Lanka recently drew their two-match Test series against Australia 1-1. When asked if he would be pleased with keeping Test cricket to just six teams, Shastri, the former India all-rounder, replied in the affirmative.
“Absolutely. Because what is Test cricket? It tests you and for that you need quality. If there’s no quality then who’s going to watch it? You’re going to have three-day games, two-day games if the opposition is not right.”
“If you have countries who have never played Test cricket and then you say ‘come to India’ or ‘come to England’, in bowler-friendly conditions the game over in two days, two-and-a-half days. And you’ve taken money from the broadcaster for five days.”
“So he’s going to be unhappy, the fans are going to be unhappy and the standard is going to go down. Quality is important and in that format of the game extremely important for cricket to survive in the future.”