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ICC chief's comments cast doubts over women's Test matches

Aditya Chaudhuri Aditya Chaudhuri

The International Cricket Council’s independent chair Greg Barclay recently stated that, moving ahead, women’s Tests will not be the focal point for the ICC. Barclay also mentioned that fans should prepare for a reduced amount of Test matches annually.

Women’s Tests have been around for more than eight decades, but only a total of 143 Test matches have been played. Since 2007, only one women’s Test match has been played which did not involve India, Australia or England. This signifies that the women’s game in the other nations has been hampered and its growth in associate nations has been minimal. 

Speaking about the future of the five-day game in women’s cricket, Greg Barclay commented:

If you look at the way cricket is going there is no doubt that white ball is the way of the future – that is the game that is sought after by the fans, where the broadcasters are putting their resources and what is driving the money.

Therefore the counties that are developing women’s cricket will focus on that. In order to play Test cricket you have to have the structures in place domestically and they don’t really exist, so I can’t really see women’s Test or long-form cricket evolving at any speed at all.

That’s not to say that those countries that choose to play Test cricket – Australia and England – who provide that to the women can’t do so, but I don’t see it as part of the landscape moving forward to any real extent at all.

If you look at it strategically the way that cricket is going, there’s no doubt that white-ball cricket, short-form cricket, is the way of the future. That’s the game that’s sought after by fans, that’s where the broadcasters are putting their resources, it’s what’s driving the money.

Barclay also spoke about the future of the game for women in Afghanistan, where there has been growing concern that the Taliban’s return to power will put the development of the game backwards. 

Barclay stated:

The people involved in Afghan cricket assure me they are doing everything they can to get the women’s game better established and what has happened is hopefully something of a blip in that process. Some other members have also had slow progress in developing a women’s game so let’s give it time.

It wasn’t only the women’s game that received bad news from Barclay, who also spoke about how the game in general was being run by the financial superpowers of Australia, India and England and how the other countries would be playing less cricket.

Barclay said:

Men’s Test cricket represents the history and legacy of the game – it is what makes the game unique. We are fortunate that we have other formats that can help us sustain Test cricket financially because other than one or two series is effectively loss making for boards.

The single biggest issue that we’ve got in front of us now is we’re creating the cycle for the next eight years (and) just fitting everything that we’ve got into that calendar.

And I think there’ll be some unfortunate consequences from a playing experience point of view and in a revenue generation perspective for some of these countries who just won’t get the amount of cricket that they will hope to have. And they won’t get exposure against, particularly, India and to a lesser extent Australia and England.

The World Test Championship has driven some relevancy into it. In 10 or 15 years time I still see Test cricket being an integral part, [but] some of the smaller full members will have to accept that they can’t play the amount of Test cricket that they want to.

So I think we’ll see a lessening of that, four or five Tests a year maybe. Whereas England, Australia, India, I think they’ll be playing Test cricket like they are now. It’s only one man’s opinion but I think that’s how it will play out.

The English women’s team are scheduled to play the Proteas women in June, which will be the South Africa women’s national team’s first Test match since 2004. 

ICC chief's comments casts doubts of women's Test matches
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Aditya Chaudhuri

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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