Cricket has a defined playing calendar. The International Cricket Council (ICC) came up with a calendar which lasts for 10 years in which bilateral series are charted out. The number of Tests, ODIs and T20Is are mentioned in a document called the Future Tours Program (FTP).
However, in the last couple of years, the ICC has been worried about the future of bilateral series in the wake of several Twenty20 leagues which are topping the popularity charts. In July 2015, the ICC expressed concern and mulled the possibility of creating a qualifying league for Tests and ODIs.
India’s batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar has come up with a radical solution to make bilateral series more competitive. Speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Tendulkar put forth a very different proposal.
Tendulkar used the current India versus England series as an example and said, “It will be a good idea to play back-to-back Test matches on a home-and-away basis. It will make the matches more exciting. Let India host two Tests at home and then let England host India in the next two.”
The former India skipper said, “Two years ago, India played in England. They lost a couple of players since then. We have also had a couple of changes. This home and away contests become more meaningful because everything stays the same. In that way, the series would be interesting.”
Sachin Tendulkar pointed out that for crowds to have interest in Test cricket, a fair contest between bat and ball is needed. He added that the pitch, which is the heart of the game, needs to be the main focus.
He also added that playing with two different balls, on two different pitches can also add an interesting dimension to the game, “Playing with two different types of balls on different surfaces will level the playing field between bat and ball and make the competition interesting.”
With bilateral series struggling for recognition, Tendulkar’s solution provides an out-of-the-box solution for the ICC. With the England Cricket Board (ECB) having trialed out the points system in a bilateral series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan in 2016, Tendulkar’s suggestions, if executed, will go a long way in bringing greater context to bilateral series in the coming years.