The future of Test cricket could be short once-a-year events like the Wimbledon tennis tournament, according to Rajasthan Royals principal owner Manoj Badale.
One of the biggest issues facing cricket is scheduling with some sides playing two series in two different formats simultaneously in recent years.
Badale estimates that some of the best players in the world can play cricket 220-230 days a year, across T20s, one-dayers and Tests.
England Test captain Ben Stokes retired from one-day internationals last July saying “there is too much cricket” and the players “are not cars” that can be “filled up and returned to”.
“We can make Test cricket work if we make it more of an event,” Badale said Tailenders Podcast.
“We should have it at the same time every year, played between a small set of nations that can actually afford it and Lord’s becomes like a Wimbledon, an event that is the paper.
“The amount of times I hear arguments like ‘Ben Stokes wants to play Test cricket’, that’s important, but what’s really important is what the fans of the future want to see and where they’re going to spend their hard-earned money.
“We’re going to have to think creatively about Test cricket if we want it to work.”
“I would be worried about the ODIs”
Last summer, England’s Test team faced New Zealand at home while their white-ball team toured the Netherlands.
In March, a white-ball series in Bangladesh began a day after a Test tour of New Zealand ended.
India have regularly had white-ball teams on tour, while another set of players play another format elsewhere.
“There are too many formats”, said Badale. “I would be more worried about the ODI game right now.
“It’s difficult for me because Test cricket is what you grow up to be a fan of and I haven’t missed the first day at Lord’s for many years, it’s still my favorite format.
“But it’s not about me, it’s about what 10- to 15-year-olds think in India and around the world.”
“T20s have become too long, T10 will be interesting”
A report in The Times last week said six English players were being considered to sign multi-year deals with their Indian Premier League franchises to play in various leagues around the world.
Seven of the 10 men’s IPL teams have teams in different leagues around the world, including the West Indies, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and one league based in the United States.
Former England and IPL all-rounder Ravi Bopara said Special BBC Test Match Podcast that the contracts are “coming soon” and “isn’t a surprise”.
Badale said he expects franchises to “become bigger entities” and “play in more leagues.”
“I honestly believe that in the next three to five years there will be a number of choices that administrators will make that will be really game-changing,” Badale said.
“We are the second most popular sport in the world at the moment, but our real competition is other forms of entertainment.
“Now we have too many franchise leagues so you can have an IPL hierarchy, some major leagues and then some minor leagues.”
Cricket has long had a desire to enter the Olympics, but Badale believes the current formats restrict the likelihood of that happening.
“I was at a game at the Wankhede [stadium in Mumbai] the other day and the game lasted 4 hours 15 minutes, that’s too long, so I think in a way T20 has become too long.
“The T10 [10 overs per side] it will get interesting.
“The only way to watch cricket at the Olympics is T10, where you can do it in 10 days.”
“Don’t solve timing problems with a new format”
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) introduced a new 100-ball competition in 2021 designed to attract a more diverse audience to the game and fit into a two-and-a-half-hour slot for broadcasters.
There have been reports that they are considering eliminating the tournament after no other country adopted the format and after it had had losses of £9 million in the first two years.
Badale believes that the ECB should be willing to stick with the format.
“I don’t think the right question is ‘what are you losing?’, but ‘what are you willing to invest?'” said Badale.
“People talk about the IPL now, but there were hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the first five or seven years. Everyone forgets that it was loss-making for years.
“I saw an article that the Hundred lost nine million dollars, that’s irrelevant to me. If there’s an economic model that works it could be huge.”
However, Badale has said he doesn’t think another format is the solution.
“I agree T20 works, why do we need another format?” Badale said.
“I think administrators tend to prioritize trying to look different over what we should be prioritizing.
“The problem they were trying to solve with The Hundred is that T20 games were getting too long, and I think four-and-a-half hours is too long, but you don’t have to solve that by changing the format.”