West Indies cricketing icon Sir Everton Weekes believes that making Test cricket as monetarily attractive as the shortest form of the game could be one means of keeping the region’s best players interested in that format.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY this evening, the legendary batsman said Test cricket was still the true measure of a cricketer’s ability and excellence, despite whatever performances were produced in the other versions of the game.
He noted however that the other formats, especially Twenty20 franchise cricket, were more attractive to players because there was greater financial reward to be gained than the longer version.
“I believe that if a cricketer plays a game over five days, then the monetary incentive should be there for the individual to play for that duration of time. That is not the case now and cricketers make significantly more playing the game over a shorter period of time so that attraction is there,” he said.
Sir Everton, who had a stellar career in which he played 48 Tests between 1948 and 1958 while scoring 4 455 runs at an average of 58.61, said that at the end of the day cricketers were remembered for what they achieved in the longer format of the game. Though not knocking Twenty20 cricket and stressing he was pleased that cricketers were making financial rewards from it, the cricketing knight nevertheless said performances in franchise cricket around the globe were often quickly forgotten.
He also said there were aspects of the shortest form of the game that bordered on unfair play. He said when one side set a field based on a batsman’s left-handedness or right-handedness and he subsequently switched at the crease to play a stroke, that could be viewed as an element of cheating the game.
Sir Everton noted that while paying cricketers more for Test cricket might be one means of maintaining their interest in that format, he was not sure what could be done specifically to rekindle the interest of spectators in Test cricket, which he added had dwindled over the years.
Sir Everton’s views have been echoed by Cricket Australia’s chief executive officer James Sutherland. He said today that everything should be done to ensure international cricket retained its position as the most attractive form of the game for cricketers across the globe. He acknowledged, however, the financial lure which leagues such as the Indian Premier League, The Big Bash League and others, have in comparison to International cricket matches.
Sutherland said cricket was at an interesting stage of its growth, where players were confused whether to play Test cricket for their nations or represent their franchises in domestic cricket leagues.
He said that international cricket’s future could only be secured by making it more financially lucrative than domestic leagues. He added this was the only way that it would remain at the pinnacle of the game.
He noted that efforts had to be made to ensure that the rewards on offer for Test cricket were continually increased and worked in parallel with any additions of domestic leagues, or other T20 tournaments to a calendar year.
A study conducted by ESPN Cricinfo during the 2015 – 2016 West Indies Tour of Australia revealed that, while West Indies players earn $5000 in match fees for a Test match, the Australians received US $11,200 approximately per home Test and US $15,700 approximately for overseas matches. This was only the tip of the iceberg, however, as there was a greater imbalance when one compared their annual retainer contracts.
The West Indies Cricket Board contracted players are split into three categories earning between US$100,000 and $140,000. By contrast, the lowest ranked Australian contracted player gets US $182,500 approximately in addition to their match payments. The top-contracted players, meanwhile, earn around US $1.1 million.
The Australian executive suggested that one way of encouraging greater spectator attendance at the longest format of the game was day-night Test matches. He said the cricket boards of all major Test-playing nations had thrown their support behind day-night matches and nearly half intended to host a game under lights in the next 12 months. (WG)