Indian cricket has reached the pinnacle: ICC chief

By Dipankar De Sarkar, IANS,

London: The head of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Wednesday congratulated India on reaching the top of the rankings for Test match cricket, saying the time was now ripe to for countries to play day-night Test cricket and even consider launching a world championship for the five-day version.

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But ICC President David Morgan said the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCi) must take steps to attract spectators to the grounds to watch Test cricket rather than just rely on revenues from television broadcasts.

“The ICC regards Test cricket as the pinnacle of the game. It is the form of the game that cricketers seek to play,” Morgan said.

“The BCCI are absolutely delighted to be at the top of the rankings and this is an opportunity for me to congratulate India, the Indian team, on achieving that pinnacle. It is something many countries have not achieved and would absolutely love to achieve.

“The two biggest events in world cricket are the Ashes and Test match cricket between India and Pakistan. From Pakistan’s point of view, the sooner they can resume playing bilaterally with India the better.

“These are the really big earners. South Africa-England and Australia-South Africa Test matches are not far behind. Don’t underestimate the importance of Test match cricket commercially – its far bigger than 50-over internationals and Twenty20,” he added.

Morgan also welcomed the BCCI’s move to seek an increase the number of Test matches India is scheduled to play against South Africa in the upcoming series.

“The efforts in place within BCCI to rearrange the programme to have a two Test series is good for Test match cricket. It shows an interesting shift within India,” he told journalists at the Oval Cricket Ground in London.

Without naming any country, Morgan said the ICC recognised that in some countries Test cricket was not that popular.

“Television audiences are good but it is recognised that you need people at the grounds in order for the product to be interesting. It needs to be a competitive event. We need pitches that give a good balance between bat and ball. All of those things are being looked at,” he told the conference organised by the Indian Journalists Association of UK.

Morgan said he now sees “very good reasons for moving to day-night Test match cricket”.

“It will bring out the crowds out in a way that they are unable to do during the working day,” especially in countries with large grounds and hot days, he said.

Morgan backed proposals to launch a World Cup of Test cricket, saying it is “certainly required”.

“There is a belief around the Chief Executives’ table at ICC that that it is required. We now have a group within CEC – England, Australia, India and Sri Lanka – which is examining ways and means of producing Test match cricket that has context (of a World Cup).”