Women lead the way towards a meaningful ratings scheme01/03/2019 - Author: admin - Comments are closed
Did you know South Africa is the holder of the “ICC Test Championship mace”? Any idea what it looks like? Well, this should be a revered item – it passes to the nation which leads the ICC Test championship. Know what that is? Well, basically, it is the continually updated league ladder of Test cricket, in which teams are ranked by which team they beat, and where. The mace is transferred every time a team takes over the top ranking, not that all but the most attentive fan would notice. It seems scant recognition for achieving the the presumed pinnacle of the sport.
But in many parts of the cricket world, Test cricket is not the pinnacle.
Many fans, administrators and TV moguls get more excited by T20 or limited overs cricket. The World Cups of T20 and 50-over cricket are presumably their mountain tops, and IPL their staple, and addiction.
There is a gaping divide in world cricket.
It is why the International Cricket Council has failed to institute a world championship of Test cricket, and postponed the next attempt until 2017, despite releasing Test rankings each month since 2003.
Such a tournament is simple in theory – the top four teams in the rankings at the end of every four years play off in an event that could be completed in less time than the perversely interminable 50-over World Cup.
The tradition associated with individual contests between particular nations are a hindrance to them enthusiastically embracing a global Test championship. Australians and Englishmen treasure Ashes series over every other contest, and those series will make more money than banks of now unfashionable ODIs. Most nations are also keen on playing India more often these days, due to the broadcast dividends that can result.
However, such is the power of cricket’s lucrative shorter forms that second-rank one-day tournaments such as the Champions Trophy survive while the Test championship languishes.
Given this dichotomy, an innovation in the women’s game bears some scrutiny.
The Ashes series being contested by Australia and England’s finest women cricketers this winter will be decided by a points system.
The winners of the Test will be awarded six points, with two points awarded to the winners of each of the limited overs and T20 matches. The team that accrues the most points across all three formats will win the women’s Ashes.
The concept of awarding three times as much weight to a Test win as for an ODI or T20 match is a worthy starting point for a refreshing innovation. Already, votes awarded to Australian male cricketers in their player of the year awards give greater weight to performances in Test matches than ODIs, due recognition to the form of the game that most truly tests the skill of the combatants.
Under the innovative women’s scoring system, Australia would have scored 23 points to England’s 19 on the last men’s Ashes tour, having lost the Test series 2-1 (two points are awarded for draws), and won the ODI series 6-1. The single T20 match was washed out.
Antipodean cricket fans may grasp at such flimsy consolations given the bleak short-term prospects of the national team. (We’ll leave aside the fact that our ODI team is also hardly setting the world on fire of late.)
But in the future such a scoring system might not seem so ridiculous.
While women’s cricket features far fewer Test matches, and the gap in status and prestige between long-form and limited overs cricket is not as great as in the men’s game, the scheme is a starting point for thinking differently about how we rate cricket performances.
The novel scoring technique agreed to for the women’s Ashes may be a method to enliven series which feature all forms of the games and recognise the best all-round cricketing nation. Surely there should be acclaim for a team that can slog at 10 an over in a three-hour T20 extravaganza, then defend grimly on the final day of a five-day Test match.
Do many IPL fans care about which nation is crowned Test cricket’s finest? Are there that many Test cricket devotees who care much about which team is crowned T20’s champion? Maybe it is time to bring such fans closer together, for the sake of both forms of the game.
Perhaps, in decades to come, a new scoring system will inject some meaning and interest to previously dead rubbers, and suspense to usually moribund one-day games.
Consider how much has changed in the past 40 years in cricket. India has gone from easybeat to superpower, on and off the field; the game is professional, lit up at night, played in coloured clothing and over in three hours in many gaudy instances. The reverse sweep, ramp shot and TV rights deals now demand attention previously hogged by delicate leg glances during slow-scoring Tests viewed from a single fixed camera in colonial black and white.
We live in an idiosyncratic, divided cricket world, and it may be that the women and their administrators have shown a way forward, or a taste of things to come.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.