Cricket

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Future of Test Cricket
Big-time cricket all looks so rosy. It is at the start of a $1.1 billion (£550m) television rights deal for international tournaments, which should keep the wolf from the door until 2015.(ICC) It is weeks away from the quite astonishingly lucrative Indian Premier League(IPL), a Twenty20 competition from which most of the leading cricketers in the world will reap rewards beyond their dreams and avarice. Money has done a lot of talking. Couldn't be better? Don't believe it. The game is hurtling towards a crossroads and not only might it struggle to know which way to turn; it might also have little choice in the matter. One country, India, is setting the pace and plotting the direction. Other countries are wondering how to respond. They recognize the new league as a hitherto unseen cash cow but in some cases are casting envious eyes. There are reactions and knees jerking everywhere. New Zealand bowed to the inevitable last March by allowing five of their players to arrive late for the tour of England so that they could earn some of the Indian money. In England, there is mild panic, with talk of the big counties trying to form their own breakaway league.
Test cricket is the longest form in cricket. It has long been considered the ultimate test of playing ability between cricketing nations. It remains the most prestigious form of the game. But with the growing popularity of Twenty20 cricket, Test cricket is popularity is going down as each passing day. In six of the 10 countries where it is played, it is virtually unwatched most of the time by live audiences, while in a seventh, Zimbabwe, it has not been played for almost three years and may never be so again. Vibrant though the game might be in three countries – England, Australia and India – there are profound concerns that most of the power influence and, crucially, money will all belong to India. The International Cricket Council are probably worried, but

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