The 149th edition of Wisden has sounded a shrill warning about the overweening influence of Twenty20, and issued a plea for India to recognise its responsibilities to the global game.
Lawrence Booth, who, at 37, is the youngest Wisden editor in 72 years, used his inaugural preface to put forward his belief that the sport stands on “a precipice”, and that administrators are neglecting the five-day game to milk the more lucrative formats of 20-overs and 50-overs.The big yellow book, which this year runs to 1,552 pages, has garnered a reputation over its long history as a voice of temperate authority on the game. But the urgent tone of Booth’s notes – was marked. “It is clearer than ever that our administrators believe there are three forms of cricket: Twenty20 and one-day internationals,” Booth wrote.
“A sense of impending crisis has always been integral to Test cricket. But not even a string of gloriously addictive Tests late in the year could ease the concern that the sport stands at a precipice.”Booth, a former Daily Telegraph reporter who has also worked for The Guardian and currently writes for the Daily Mail, also called for the ICC to stipulate that all series except those involving Bangladesh and Zimbabwe should consist of a minimum of three Tests.“Outside England, the Test match increasingly resembles the quiet zone of world cricket’s gravy train: respected in theory, ignored in practice,” wrote Booth.
“And even in England, they have axed a Test this summer in favour of five extra one-day internationals against Australia. “A fixture list in which only four teams – Australia, England, India and, just occasionally, South Africa – play series of more than three games is bad enough. But the real damage is being done by the prevalence of the two-match series: once a means of hurrying through Tests against Bangladesh, now a means of hurrying through Tests full stop. Of the 19 series which took place either wholly or partially in 2011, six contained two games, and a further three (in Zimbabwe) only one. For any series not involving Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, three Tests must be the minimum.”
There was also a pointed criticism of the Indian Cricket Board for abnegating its responsibilities to the game. “The skewing of Indian sensibilities away from Tests would cause less alarm if their powerbrokers were on top of their brief,” Booth wrote.“India have ended up with a special gift: the clout to shape an entire sport. Some national boards would struggle to survive without an Indian visit. But too often their game appears driven by the self-interest of the few.”There was also a call for the number of appeals a team is allowed under the Umpire Decision Review System to be reduced from two to one. “The debate over the Decision Review System has become so complex as to have lost touch with the game it was supposed to simplify,” it read.
There were also a surprise name among Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year, with Worcestershire seam bowler Alan Richardson receiving the accolade along with Alastair Cook, Tim Bresnan, Glen Chapple and Kumar Sangakkara.Richardson, 36, took 73 wickets in the first division of the County Championship for Worcestershire last season, and was credited with “almost single-handedly” saving his county from relegation. – Telegraph