Fa­mous sil­ver­ware as­sumes cen­tre stage

The Southland Times - - SPORT - MARK GEENTY

A new dawn for in­ter­na­tional cricket has been con­firmed but ICC chief ex­ec­u­tive Dave Richard­son has no doubt that more still needs to be done if the test for­mat is to sur­vive.

Fol­low­ing the ICC board meet­ing in Auck­land yes­ter­day, Richard­son, as ex­pected, an­nounced the es­tab­lish­ment of a test cham­pi­onship (from 2020) and one-day in­ter­na­tional league (from 2020).

In do­ing so, the for­mer South African wick­et­keeper also re­vealed that four-day test cricket would be ex­plored on a trial ba­sis up un­til the 2019 World Cup, with the first try-out set to take place between South Africa and Zim­babwe in Port El­iz­a­beth on Box­ing Day.

Led by Eng­land and with high­level back­ing from Sir Richard Hadlee and Shane Bond in re­cent weeks, four-day matches are seen as a way to re­vive in­ter­est in coun­tries where the five-day game is dy­ing.

Richard­son ad­mit­ted there re­mained wide­spread scep­ti­cism, among play­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors alike, as to whether four-day tests are the way for­ward.

But he said there was uni­ver­sal ap­proval from the ICC board to push ahead with tri­als as they seek to pre­serve the purist form of the game.

‘‘Our pri­or­ity has been to de­velop an in­ter­na­tional struc­ture that gives con­text and mean­ing across all three for­mats, in par­tic­u­lar test se­ries. But we still have to ac­knowl­edge that there is a ques­tion around the the sus­tain­abil­ity of test cricket.

‘‘Is four-day [test] cricket go­ing to pro­vide a bet­ter prod­uct, one that more peo­ple will be in­ter­ested in? Who knows, but un­less we trial it we’ll never know.

‘‘Sim­i­lar to the way we’ve con­ducted day-night test matches with the pink ball and us­ing tech­nol­ogy, we’re go­ing to do the same now with [four-day matches].’’

The play­ing con­di­tions still need to be fi­nalised by the ICC cricket com­mit­tee but they are likely to be sim­i­lar to the first-class for­mat, with six-and-a-half hour days con­sist­ing of 98 overs.

It is hoped four-day tests will re­duce costs and lead to more op­por­tu­ni­ties for de­vel­op­ing na­tions while, ul­ti­mately, cre­at­ing a more at­tack­ing brand of cricket.

‘‘Mov­ing to for-day tests will in­evitably change the way cap­tains ap­proach the game,’’ Richard­son said. ‘‘In the end I think it might pro­duce more at­tack­ing cricket than be­fore. This

A test se­ries cham­pi­onship in­volv­ing nine teams play­ing six se­ries over two years - three home and three away - start­ing in 2019.

A one-day in­ter­na­tional league in­volv­ing 13 teams, start­ing in 2020, which de­ter­mined qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the ODI World Cup

A trial of four-day test matches to run un­til the 2019 World Cup. Mem­bers will be able sched­ule the tests by mu­tual agree­ment, but the new test cham­pi­onship will have five-day tests.

A player will have to re­side in a coun­try for three years be­fore be­com­ing el­i­gi­ble to rep­re­sent it. is what we want to find out.’’

New Zealand Cricket wel­comed the in­tro­duc­tion of the test and ODI leagues, although chair­man Greg Bar­clay said they were ‘‘am­biva­lent’’ on the four-day ex­per­i­ment.

Bar­clay said their pri­or­ity is the con­tin­u­a­tion of five-day tests and have no plans for any trial matches at this stage.

‘‘There are a num­ber of coun­tries that prob­a­bly lend them- selves to four-day cricket for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons ... so it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how the trial goes,’’ Bar­clay said.

‘‘From our point of view, we will keep an open mind. We are cer­tainly not op­posed to it but at the mo­ment we con­tinue to sup­port the sta­tus quo.’’

The test cham­pi­onship will see nine teams play six se­ries over two years – three home and three away.

The bi­lat­eral se­ries will be con­tested over a min­i­mum of two matches and a max­i­mum of five, with points to be al­lo­cated for ev­ery se­ries and the top two teams meet­ing in a one-off fi­nal.

The 13-na­tion ODI league, mean­while, will op­er­ate between World Cups and also be used to de­ter­mine which teams qual­ify for the show­piece 50-overs tour­na­ment ev­ery four years.

The goal is to pro­vide con­text and mean­ing around ev­ery test and ODI se­ries as the long­est for­mat strug­gles for rel­e­vance, crowds and broad­cast­ing rev­enue.

‘‘This is a sig­nif­i­cant point in time for ICC mem­bers and our col­lec­tive de­sire to se­cure a vi­brant fu­ture for in­ter­na­tional bi­lat­eral cricket,’’ Richard­son said.

The ICC board will now set about fi­nal­is­ing a play­ing sched­ule for the open­ing edi­tion as well as the points sys­tem and com­pe­ti­tion terms. There were dou­ble takes and a few whis­pered ques­tions at Welling­ton’s Mid­land Park on a Fri­day lunchtime.

Yes, in­deed it was The Masters tro­phy and the Claret Jug, famed prize for golf’s Open Cham­pi­onship, perched in glass cases and draw­ing cu­ri­ous, some­times awestruck glances.

Beam­ing Royal Welling­ton of­fi­cials looked on, no­tably club cap­tain An­drew Har­court and pres­i­dent Marty Scott, whose club hosts the Asia-Pa­cific Am­a­teur Cham­pi­onship from Oc­to­ber 26-29.

For a field of 120 of the best am­a­teurs from the re­gion, no­tably Aus­tralia, Ja­pan, China, South Korea, Thai­land and New Zealand - who get 10 en­tries as host na­tion - that’s the win­ning prize. The golden ticket of am­a­teur golf: di­rect en­try to The Masters at Au­gusta and the Open Cham­pi­onship at Carnoustie for the win­ner of the 72-hole stroke­play event.

‘‘It’s hard to be­lieve it’s nearly here, af­ter a cou­ple of years of plan­ning and re-in­vest­ing in the club and the course to get it to tour­na­ment stan­dard,’’ Har­court said.

‘‘It’s very hard for us to de­scribe the enor­mity of this event and the in­fra­struc­ture sur­round­ing it. Hav­ing seen it in Korea last year, it’s as big as any PGA Tour event, even though it’s an am­a­teur tour­na­ment.’’

Money talks, and this tour­na­ment has high-pro­file back­ing from The Masters who in­vest mil­lions and will send many green­jack­eted mem­bers from Au­gusta. The Royal and An­cient Golf Club are on board, too, for the ninth edi­tion of this an­nual tour­na­ment be­ing hosted by New Zealand for the first time.

Di­rect en­try to The Masters has al­ways been the prize, but for the first time it’s a dou­ble whammy with the Open Cham­pi­onship grant­ing a spot in their field, too. The catch-phrase is ‘‘cre­at­ing he­roes’’ and Ja­pan’s Hideki Mat­suyama was the poster boy, win­ning it in 2010 and 2011 be­fore start­ing a glit­ter­ing pro ca­reer.

Royal Welling­ton bid for the tour­na­ment three years ago and had two years to pre­pare, hav­ing last hosted a big tour­na­ment at the 1995 New Zealand Open.

It was re­designed to cham­pi­onship stan­dard by Greg Turner and Scott Macpher­son, a facelift which cost $6.5 mil­lion, of which nearly $4 mil­lion was funded by mem­bers.

‘‘The list of things to given to us by The Masters is quite ex­ten­sive and pre­scrip­tive. We’re work­ing through that and we’ll have it pre­sented in top or­der,’’ said Har­court.

‘‘We’ve come out of the worst 18 months of rain con­di­tions that I can re­call so we’ve been bat­tling that, but I think we’re on top of that and the course is look­ing fan­tas­tic. All we need is 2-3 days of sun and a bit of breeze and it’ll harden up.’’

The club’s tar­get of 250 vol­un­teers had been sur­passed and they hope­d­for big crowds, with the tour­na­ment be­ing tele­vised and beamed around the world.

‘‘Peo­ple are start­ing to talk about it and there’s the cu­rios­ity fac­tor from out­side clubs who have heard us talk about it. It’s huge for Welling­ton, and Royal Welling­ton, and for New Zealand Golf, par­tic­u­larly golf tourism and will put us on the map.’’

The tro­phies will be on dis­play at Para­pa­raumu Beach to­day and Boul­cott’s Farm Her­itage to­mor­row, be­fore settling in at their tem­po­rary home at Royal Welling­ton till the end of the tour­na­ment.


Cricket’s grad­ual rev­o­lu­tion that has in­cluded night test matches con­tin­ues to evolve af­ter an ICC meet­ing in Auck­land yes­ter­day.


An­nie Har­court checks out the pres­ti­gious Claret Jug, prize for the Open Cham­pi­onship, in cen­tral Welling­ton yes­ter­day.

Josh Ta­bor snaps a pic­ture of the Masters tro­phy.

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