Former India coach Ravi Shastri has once again ignited the debate around bilateral series and franchise cricket tournaments. On Monday, English all-rounder Ben Stokes shocked the entire cricketing world as he announced his retirement from the 50-over format of the game. The 31-year-old English talisman who has been bestowed with the Test captaincy recently said that his body can't keep up with the challenges of international cricket and to prolong his cricketing career and his service to the English cricket team, he was bound to take this decision. Ben Stokes further said that he will continue with the Test and the T20I format and will make sure he gives his hundred percent, every time he steps on the field.
This attracted the attention of many former cricketers, experts, and sports journalists who were in agreement with Ben Stokes and lauded his courage to express his views clearly. Former English captain now turned broadcaster Nasser Hussain had a very strong reaction to this as he feels that the calendar of international cricket is crazy and this can burn a player down. Nasser took indirect digs at the BCCI as well as he said that the ICC is being extremely callous at the moment by giving free windows to certain boards who are organizing their leagues. A very renowned sports journalist Ayaz Memon said that cricketers retiring from one format might just start to feel like a new normal going forward.
As per ICC's next Futures Tours & Programme's (FTP) draft, there is set to be a massive increase in T20s, and the IPL is also set to have a two-and-a-half-month exclusive window. Cricket South Africa too made a bold decision as they pulled out of an ODI series against Australia to ensure that their superstars are in full fitness and form to be available for their new domestic T20 competition.
"I would be a little careful of the number of bilateral splits, especially in T20 cricket. There's a lot of franchise cricket that can be encouraged, whichever country it's in be it India, West Indies, or Pakistan. You play fewer 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", said Ravi Shastri.
Moving on Shastri also suggested a two-tier Test set up to save the longest format from extinction. "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", explained the former India coach.
(Inputs from PTI)