Friday, 6 May 2011

Multi Tier Test System and how it fits in FTP

Over years there have been so many talks about giving Test Status to Bangladesh how it was a mistake. Many still believe they can and will improve. Then came in Ireland and Afghanistan. Ireland specifically with their performance have lead many to believe and push that they deserve Test Status. These teams have shown improvement and people follow cricket in their nations. Hence rightfully they should be given a chance to play the highest level and keep their players motivated. It would be good in long term to keep adding test teams for growth of cricket.

However then there is the issue of the Big 3-BCCI, CA and ECB who want to play more series amongst themselves and some against SL, Pak and SA. They will reluctantly be ready to host NZ or WI but hosting BD or Zim is a big no no. Now to add to that if you add to that another Test Nation and then ask them to take out time in FTP to play Ireland or Afghanistan instead of the top 3 which  would get them 10% of sponsorship money compared to playing Aus or Ind, why would they be willing to do that. For them additional Test nations is nation is burden on their resources.

I have always wonder what would be the right approach. The problem with present cricket structure is it is like a Communist System, creating different levels and assuming everything in level is equal. Unfortunately the sources of income come from a capitalistic system and ICC should realize that. In that light of that this what I have thought

What should be the Structure?
It should be a multi tier structure with promotion and relegation amongst these structure

Tier 1:- Aus, NZ, Eng, Zim, Ind, Pak, SL, BD, SA & WI
Tier 2:- Afg, Ken, Can, Neth, Scot, Nam, PNG, Ire, UAE & HK
IC Cup:- Ugan, Ber, Oman, Italy, USA, Den, Nep & Tanz

*those marked in red do not have a domestic tournament with dedicated players

 There should be a cycle of 4 years in which as part of FTP each nation in a Tier plays all other nations for atleast 3 Tests. ODI is the wish of nations to play or not but generally played along with Tests. If a country in Tier 1 wants to play a test against Tier 2 that is also allowed and counted as tests (Assuming say Eng goes into Tier 2 but still Ashes will be played). We are not dictating any one to play only a set of nation rather as a welfare state merely asking them to follow certain guidelines for the team in lower strata.

The IC Cup runs in the way it has been running i.e. a pool with 4 days FC matches happening over a time. Only difference it presently it happens in a single cycle for 2 years and now it would be 2 cycles over 4 years

At end of each cycle
Tier 1:-
Top 4 teams qualify for the Test Championship and winner is declared the Test Champion like World Cup champion
The Bottom 2 are relegated to Tier 2.
This keeps the excitement and teams not performing suffer and get relegated

Tier 2:-
Top 2 qualify for Tier 1
Bottom 2 relegated to IC Cup Div and loose test status for 4 years

IC Cup
The top 2 get Test Status and are promoted to Tier 2
The bottom 4 are relegated back to WCL and will have to qualify again

How will it fit in the FTP?
Getting the data from previous tours the time required for various forms of cricket in a tour are

Test:- 8 Days
ODI:- 4 Days
T20:- 2 Days
FC:- 6 Days
List A:- 3 Days

So if in 4 year cycle India has to have 9 tours to all test Tier 1 nations. Besides this India would like to have extra tour against Aus, SA, Eng, SL & Pak over these 4 years to have income stream and tours popular at home. This is beyond the requirement of FTP.

1.)The general Tour of India lets  Aus, Eng & SA typically is 4 Tests, 5 ODI, 3 T20, 1 FC and 1 List A
The tour would take :- 4x8+5X4+3X2+1X6+1X3= 67 Days

In a FTP there are 3 such tours and additional 3 Tours hence 67X6= 402 Days
2.)A tour against rest i.e NZ, Pak,SL, WI would be 3 Tests, 5 ODI, 2 T20, 1 FC and 1 List AThe tour would take:- 3X8+5X4+2X2+1X6+1X3= 57 Days
In a FTP there would be 4 tours with additional 2=1 Tour hence 57X5= 285 Days

3.)The tours for BD and Ire would be smaller with 3 Tests, 3 ODI, 1 T20, 1 FC and 1 List A (I have my doubts for List A but to be on the safer side lets include and move ahead)
The tour length here would be:- 3X8+3X4+1X2+1X6+1X3= 47 Days
The FTP will have just 2 tours making it 47X2= 92 Days

4.)Then India has to play IPL every year. Hence its schedule it needs to have a IPL Window of 50 Days
IPL Window=50X4=200 Days 

Like India have IPL window for themselves, Aus have it for Big Bash and so on. This is to give countries opportunities to earn from Domestic tournament which I believe would be a important source of income in future

5.)Then every year India would give a window for its international players for participating in  T20 tournament of other country as their players participate in for IPL. Remember these windows are not official ICC recognized but mere accommodation amongst boards and have to be considered.
Allowance for Other T20 Tournaments:- 20X4=80 Days
 However as there would be a T20 tournament in every country, accommodating with them would be in form of free days to players or holding a Test Series at that time and T20 specialist are free to go. 

6.)World Cup Window=60X1=60 Days
7.)World T20 Window= 20X2= 40 Days

8.)ICC Champion Trophy Window= 20X1= 20 Days

9.)Test Championship Window= 45X1= 45 Days

10.)Champions League Window:- 20X4= 80 Days  

11.)Rest:- 30X4= 120 Days

Hence a Total of 402+285+92+200+80+60+40+20+45+80+120=1424 Days, which is 356 days in a year leaving 9 days for any other activities 

In this schedule I have accommodated everything, 1 month rest to players in a year, window for IPL and other T20 leagues including Champions League and the favorite tours of the big 5 amongst themselves and compulsory tours to the other test nations test nations.

For the players perspective he gets 30 days rest, also players can be rested in some tours i.e when India tours WI, BD, Ire or NZ they can be rested. This has been built from the most busiest of schedules and when I analyzed  teams typically had the days cut in ODI series by playing triangular series or not playing T20. It is the test tours that are compulsory

How are ranking calculated for relegation?
When the cycle starts each team is supposed to play against all other 9 teams for at least 3 tests. There would be points given to teams based on their performance against that team a maximum of 20 points. That makes a max of 180 teams. If in 4 years they played 2 test series of 5 Test Series, then the points will be based on total of 10 tests.
The 20 points of Aus against Eng may be decided on 10 tests and against BD based on 3 Tests. How the points are to be given, a system can be worked out by ICC, which can be similar to what ICC uses in IC Cup
  • Win – 14 points
  • Draw if more than 10 hours of play lost – 7 points (otherwise 3 points)
  • First Innings leader – 6 points (independent of final result)
  • Abandoned without a ball played – 10 point
 So if in a Test Series between Aus and Eng, Aus won 3-2 and Aus got 54 Pts and Eng got 46 Pts and in second series Eng won 2-1 with 2 Drawn Test with Eng got 49 Pts and Aus got 38 Pts. Hence in total 92 Pts for Aus and Eng get 95 Pts. The 20 Pts would be split as Aus:- 9.84 and Eng 10.16. Hence in such a way each bi lateral series will have the points split and an overall table would be there.

This would make the whole Test Series besides really excitement. Think it is the series between Pak and BD and Pak want to win all the 3 matches taking first innings lead to come in Top 4 and qualify for Test Championship while BD require to draw one Test or Take an innings lead to be get out of bottom 2 and avoid relegation. Imagine the amount of excitement that will be there. It will make now the dead rubber 3-0 or 2-0 result series also interesting. Results will surely matter a lot.

What would be the implication of relegation and Promotion?
The present voting structure of ICC gives the absolute right to Test Nations. Bad performances are not punished. Also just being a test nation though not having a visible difference in level over an Associate (BD and Ire) gives an undue advantage like direct WC qualification and extra funding which is really unfair.
Being in Tier 1 should mean that each member would have 4 votes in the ICC, while in Tier 2 would mean that being reduced to 2 votes and IC Cup (Tier 3) will have 1 vote each. Hence from present 10 voting member 10 votes it would change to 28 voting members and  68 votes.

Presently  approximately over 4 years cycle ICC gives 20 M$ each to 10 Test nations, 2 M$ each to 6 ODI status nations and 1M$ each to the 4 HPP nations. So that is a total of 216 M$.
This amount is given to Test Nations to support their first class system, while to ODI status & HPP nations to support them for giving contracts to national team and developing talent.
The Test nations have got additional sources of money for hosting the teams for ODI and test series. Hence they have great means to support the FC structure.

In this system we should divide the funding in same ratio as the votes, so help the Tier 2 teams develop a FC structure also. Now the question arises how would we compensate the loss of funding to teams like Zim, BD or NZ which greatly depend on it. Answer is simple, instead of host taking it all money in a series and visitors just getting a participating fee, we go for a 80:20 divide. Hence when NZ hosts Aus or Eng they get large amounts in hosting, but they also get a huge chunk while they are visiting India. This would encourage teams like Ind, Aus to tour NZ, BD or WI rather than host them, which is great benefit and source of income. Since all the 9 teams would be playing there is a definite source of income through out the year. Also as every Test series has a reason points associated to it, the interest of people would be much higher and hence sponsorships are bound to increase. This way we ensure to compensate the teams. Now if they do not perform and go into Tier 2 (Say BD) then it is based on their performance.
The funding divide if we assume same amount of money is available then Tier 1 team gets 12.7 M$ (easily compensated with the FTP tours), Tier 2 gets 6.4 M$ (Good enough money to start and support a FC) and the IC Cup teams get 3.2 M$ (They can move to contracted players)

Over time if a team is relegated from Test to non Test (IC Cup) and it would have already started a FC based on funding, Then it would have a sudden loss in funding. However ICC will still keep supporting it for next cycle also with same funding level as a functioning FC should not be dismantled.  However even then if that team after 4 years is not able to reach Tier 2, then it will loose the funding. It would be believed during that time the team with that funding (As has an advantage over others in IC Cup as it has double funding and a Working FC structure) should be able to get back Test Status and also should have developed alternate funding sources.

Will the new voting structure affect the present political balance?
The present voting structure is divided on these lines

Asian Block (Ind, Pak, SL, BD):- 4/10=40%
White Block (Aus, NZ, Eng):- 3/10=30%
African Block (SA, Zim):- 2/10=20%
American Block (WI):- 1/10=10%

The proposed structure would make it as follows
Asian Block(Ind, Pak, Sl, BD, Afg, UAE, HK, Oman & Nep):- 24/68=35.3%
White Block (Aus, NZ, Eng, Ire, Neth, Scot, PNG, Italy & Den):- 22/68=32.3%
African Block(SA, Zim, Ken, Nam, Tan & Ugan):- 14/68=20.6%
American Block(WI, Can, Ber & USA):- 8/68=11.8%

Earlier the major block against expansion was the White block. To pass a resolution the Non White block needed 2/3rd votes i.e. 7 votes the exact no they had. Now to pass the resolution 2/3rd vote = 46 votes again what non white block has. Hence overall the power balance is same
But the Asian block and India would have less direct control and would require to take along much higher no of boards along. Also it would ensure that some colonial type decisions like 10 nation WC are not passed easily. However the Big 3 would need just 11 more votes (or 3 more Tier 1 nations) to block a decision which can be seen as too favorable and before time for lower strata of teams (Eg if a resolution is brought in for equal division of ICC money between all)

Hence it will be a more inclusive board and would help to take decision in general good for the world and not just 10 nations.

How would the qualification of World Cup Happen?
Suppose the World Cup is in 2019. This cycle would start for 2013 to 2017. In 2017 We also would have World Test Championship. Hence we would have a WCL cycle running from 2009 to 2013 and the Top 4 teams would qualify for IC Cup based on WCQ something similar to what happens now for WC qualification.
From 2013 to 2017 we have the 2 Tier and IC Cup running. After that all the teams would be ranked i.e
Tier 1
1 to 4 from World Test Championship
5 to 8 based in Tier 1 Ranking
9 & 10 Teams promoted from Tier 2
Tier 2
11 & 12 Teams relegated to Tier 2
13 to 18 based in Ranking in Tier 2
19 & 20 Promoted to Tier 2
Non Test
21& 22 Relegated from Tier 2
23 to 24 Based on IC Cup ranking
24 to 28 Relegated back to WCL

We should have a 16 nation World Cup
Top 12 Ranked teams directly qualify
WCQ for 8 teams from Rank 13 to 20 and Top 4 qualify

The teams in Tier 2 will have a very relaxed schedule as they will have funds to play short series and very rarely a double series with any team. Hence Tier 2 will be scheduled to finished 20 days before Tier 1 and this would be utilized as time for WCQ.

For World T20 and Champions Trophy would be direct qualification based on ranking.

So in the End
The message is pretty clear. For common man every test series will have a meaning. The qualification for World Cup would be based on a merit. Lets built a system of meritocracy and lets hope and push towards it
21 & 22.

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