Ōtautahi – The global game in test, 50-over and T20 versions is currently like standing between two stools slowly spreading apart. Something has to give.
Mumbai bowling coach and former Black Caps fast bowler Shane Bond says the schedule of all formats of the game and the growing number of premier or super leagues, players are being forced to make choices.
“It’s fairly clear which will probably happen. In the fast-paced digital world we live in we can’t keep replicating what cricket life was like 50 years ago,” Bond says.
Most players see test cricket as the pinnacle but there are opportunities across three formats to play for your country. The money though is in the shortest format.
Big changes are coming. The UAE league kicks off in Dubai early next year and Bond is the head coach of the Mumbai team competing in it.
Also next year, the US is launching their Major League Cricket (MLC), another Twenty20 cricket league. Operated by American Cricket Enterprises (ACE) and sanctioned by USA Cricket, it plans to begin play in summer 2023 and will last three weeks with six teams in major U.S. cities under a single-entity model.
Meanwhile, there are number of bi lateral series that although count for points or qualification, they fill a congested calendar and often struggle to capture the imagination of the public. Too much cricket, just like rugby, can impact interest.
Bond says New Zealand needs to profoundly revise the national set up and improve the brand.
“We don’t play Australia enough. Why don’t we have a week of T20s against them in Christchurch, Queenstown, Auckland and Tauranga. It would be hugely appealing.
“Our game will grow if we can play more games against Australia, England, India and South Africa. Of course, the problem is all teams want these top tier matches because drive greater television revenue.
“And as a sport we are not far away from laying 50-over cricket to rest. It has run its course. Players globally will step back from one day cricket as the focus is on test and T20 cricket.”
Which way will New Zealand players go? And look at what England is doing. Sir Andrew Strauss is leading a total review of the game there.
Their season is crammed with the county championship, the one-day cup, T20 Blast, the Hundred, the new first-class cricket festival, test matches and limited over internationals, along with tours and world cups. A number of their key players are not taking part in all versions of the game anymore.
England has adapted to the new game. They can go for it from ball one with Hales and Buttler, then Malan, Brook, Stokes, Ali, Curran, Jordan and so on. The have a lot of six hitters.
So what of the future for NZ cricket in the coming years? Changes have already begun. Trent Boult is not wanting to tour much anymore and is putting his remaining seasons into the premier leagues for better financial return. The same with Jimmy Neesham, not wanted by NZ Cricket, so is playing in the new South African league.
More players will opt for more money, than for playing for their country if they have to choose. We’ve seen it in other top tier countries.
There is a lot right about New Zealand cricket. The Black Caps have made the last three World Cup finals in the short format. They have a number of top ranked batters and bowlers with a number in T20 leagues even those who aren’t contracted nationally now, such as Colin Munro, Bond says.
“But I think New Zealand’s golden age will end at some point. It’s been an incredible eight years but with Trent Boult leaving and others now all in their early to mid-thirties change is happening.
“It’s natural to look to cash at the back end of a career. Family situation is often different and if someone has played international cricket for a number of years then T20 tournaments can be fun and different.
“How NZC Cricket adapt to this changing environment will be interesting. We will see new talent emerge but it will be tough to match the results of the last vintage. “