Former India head coach Ravi Shastri has suggested changes to Test cricket and T20 Internationals. He said the changes would help increase the popularity of red-ball cricket.
He made the statement amid complaints about Ben Stokes’ ODI retirement and busy cricket schedule. Fans and experts had been asking what would the best solution be, to which Shastri answered in an interview with Sky Sports.
"If you want Test cricket to survive you cannot have 10, 12 teams playing. Keep the top six, keep the quality of cricket going and respect quality over quantity. That's the only way you open up a window for other cricket to be played," Shastri said.
"Expand teams in T20 or one-day cricket if you want to spread the game, but in Test cricket, you will have to reduce the teams, then it does not matter if England does not go to West Indies or if West Indies does not come to England."
Shastri further said that only top-six teams should play Test cricket, and sides would need to be qualified. Otherwise, they should not play. This is due to an increase in interest in crickets to the point that various countries have started to establish their own cricket leagues.
It was also reported that Test cricket in some of the nations that play cricket experienced a drop in viewership numbers. As a result, Shastri said that Test cricket should only be played in a limited number of counters, but International Cricket Council (ICC) may use white ball cricket to promote the game globally.
He said that countries with no Test cricket experience would not be able to entertain crowds. He insisted on prioritising quality over quantity, which was why he suggested restrictions on who could play Test cricket.
"What is Test cricket? It tests you, you need quality. So if there is no quality then who is going to watch it? You are going to have two-day or three-day games, if you get countries who have never played Test cricket, and you say come to England or India in bowler-friendly conditions, either turners or seaming conditions, the game is over in two-and-a-half-days,” he said.
"You have taken money from the broadcasters for five days, they are going to be unhappy, and the fans are going to be unhappy."
'I would be a little careful of the number of bilateral splits'
Following the retirement of Stokes, who found playing three formats “unsustainable”, Shastri proposed a reduction in the T20 bilateral series.
"I would be a little careful of the number of bilateral splits, especially in T20 cricket. There's a lot of franchise cricket which can be encouraged, whichever country it's in - India, West Indies, or Pakistan," Shastri said during his appearance on Telegraph's Sport's podcast.
"You play less bilaterals, and then you get together for the World Cups. So the emphasis on ICC World Cup events becomes paramount. Then people look forward to them."
Shastri suggested a two-tier Test implementation to save the longest cricket format from being no longer viable.
"I think two tiers are needed, otherwise Test cricket will die in 10 years' time,” he said.
"You need six teams at the top, and then six teams in the second, and then you qualify. And those top six play against each other more often because of the corridor you open up by having less bilateral T20 cricket and just franchise cricket. That's the way all formats of the game can survive."