Does the concept of the Test tour serve cricket’s best interests?

I love a great Test series: the Ashes 2005, The Border-Gavaskar trophy 2001 and the Frank Worrell trophy 1999 are all glittering examples of how enthralling a cricket tour can be.

But great Test series are very much the exception. Most series are typified by the home team grinding the visiting team into the dirt, Test after Test after Test.

Moreover, most Test series lack relevance. Sure they are tallied in the ICC’s Test championship rankings, but this approach has failed to capture the imagination of cricket followers in the way it was hoped.

Yet these series roll on and on around the world in empty stadiums for the most part, doing the game a disservice.

And what is the rationale behind tours? For are they not anachronisms belonging to a pre-aviation age; a time where if you traveled half way around the world by boat, you logically should stay on for several games …

I feel the time has come to dispense with them.

Now before you cry foul that that would mean the end of the Ashes, let’s say we dispense with series other than the ones that work.

My suggestion is we have a world cricket league, say every second year. That way we preserve iconic and sacred series like the Ashes (which would be arranged in the off years.)

The cricket league would consist of 2 groups of 5 teams, playing 4 home and 4 away Tests during a calendar year with the 2 top teams playing off in a final.

A great example of how beneficial this would be is New Zealand’s performance in 2014.

The Kiwis had one of their best ever years in Test cricket and could have conceivably topped the group they were in. This would have resulted in a rare Test world final appearance and a chance at a cricket crown.

But what did their wonderful performance amount to?

Jumping a place or two on the ICC Test rankings to an underwhelming 5th; hardly anything for the long suffering Kiwis to pop a bottle of bubbly over.

I can also see a league system benefiting the players.

To stay with the tour seems draconian to me, as it uproots the players from their families for months and months. And I ask, how many times do they make mention of this when they retire prematurely from Tests?

More compellingly for adopting a league, perhaps we could tie short form cricket into it?

Perhaps all three formats are combined to find a comprehensive world champion?

The way I see this working is the same group manner and that each team play home and away Tests, ODI’s and T20’s. A team would fly into a country and play all 3 games in the space of 10 days, perhaps starting with the T20, then the ODI and culminating in the Test (and can’t you see the excitement rising after each contest?)

By doing this you would nurture a crossover interest from fans of all three formats, which surely is what cricket administrations are trying to foster.

In any case, whichever way it is approached, and even if it’s just Tests, a league over the anachronistic tour is clearly more desirable. How could it be not? And for those of you who feel otherwise, consider this: why don’t we have tours in the AFL or NRL?; why don’t we have Collingwood touring NSW next season and playing GWS and no-one but GWS for 5 games? If you don’t know the reason, I’ll tell you why: because it would be as irrelevant and as it would be boring … just like it is in cricket.

Footnote: should a league encompass all 3 formats, I’m for a system where more points are awarded for Tests than the shorter formats. So say 4 points for a win in a Test, and 2 points for a win in the shorter formats.



About Punxsutawney Pete

Punxsutawney Pete see's a shadow: twelve more months of winter


  1. matt watson says

    I’m for anything that increases crowds at Tests matches. Particularly lowering the prices. Cheapest tickets for day three in the sun at the Gabba this year were $45.
    Cheapest I could find undercover ranged from $67 to $80.
    With baby number 2 on the way, I didn’t go.
    I like your idea of a world cricket league, particularly with a grand final at the end of the year. I think 8 tests each year aren’t enough however. Minimum 10.
    But I also like Test cricket as it is. I like the tours, even the short three Test tours.
    The only five Test series Australia plays now is the Ashes, for obvious reasons.
    Three Tests seem about right. Two is one too few and one Test tours are way too short.
    One way to help Tests is reduce the number of one-day games.
    As a kid I used to love one-day cricket.
    Now I recognise it for what it is.
    The Tests are the real thing…

  2. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Agree with Matt, Zitter. Your idea has merit, in its egalitarian spirit yet logistically would be tough to organise.
    3 Tests aside from ASHES which has to be 5 seems a decent compromise. Would like to see NZ, WI, Sri Lanka and Pakistan in Australia a bit more often, for variety if nothing else.

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    While I understand the idea , I am the other way and think a lot of the problems are the tours have become too intense and test matches way to close together. A lot of the reason that visiting countries bomb so often now days is lack of warm up games and tour games between test matches for guys to find form or force there way in to the test side . While I totally agree re the kiwis and you have a valid point re there lack of recognition I am still a fan of the old fashioned tour

  4. The people have spoken.

    An Aussie Rules “world cup”: hare-brained.

    A world cricket league: dud.

    So much for me being an ideas man (and on that, I also came up with tuna and mayo in the can years before Michael Keaton did in ‘Nightshift’. Guess I shouldn’t have sat on it for so long.)

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    I think the biggest problem a World Test League has is countries in different hemispheres with different seasons, meaning it all couldn’t be played at once. Sadly the mooted Test Cricket Championship has seemingly been put on the backburner once again. I like your thinking, and have often thought along the same lines, but just can’t see it working.

  6. Hey Luke

    On how I see it working, let’s say you start the league in the northern hemisphere summer. England, The Windies, Sri Lanka and Pakistan (in the Mid East) could host the first 4 rounds in their respective groups. The league would then culminate with the last 4 rounds in Australia. New Zealand, India, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh from October to December. The final would then take place in Jan. The whole thing would be wrapped up in 7 to 8 months leaving room for traditional series should Boards want them. And you could rotate the start from hemisphere to hemisphere, so the next one starts in the southern hemisphere summer with the final taking place in the northern’s summer. Either way, in this aviation age, I don’t think the logistics are totally unsound. Anyway, I know when I’m licked. I also ran this idea on ‘The Roar’ and it was met with a dead bat there too (if indeed that’s what happened in the knackery.)

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Makes sense to schedule it like that. The final would be at a pre-ordained venue and not at the home ground of the top qualifier? If so don’t have a problem with that. This is a far better idea than anything that has been put up by the ICC. But if it was to happen would like to see each team given a tour match before each Test instead of just flying into a country and playing a Test. But maybe that would take up too much time?

  8. Thought about it more. Consider this:

    Group A: England, Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand, Bangladesh

    Group B West Indies, Sri Lanka, Australia, India, Zimbabwe

    From June to September, England would host the other 4 teams in their groups for 1 Test and also fly to the Emirates to play Pakistan. Pakistan would do the same, and fly to England.

    Meanwhile, The Windies and Sri Lanka would do the same (so the Windies would play 4 home tests and one in Sri lanka, while Sri Lanka would have played 4 home tests and 1 in the Windies.)

    As at the end of September this is how the ‘played’ table would look

    Group A

    England: played 4 home 1 away
    Pakistan: played 4 home 1 away
    South Africa: played 2 away
    New Zealand: played 2 away
    Bangladesh: played 2 away

    Group B

    West Indies: played 4 home and 1 away
    Sri Lanka: played 4 home and 1 away
    Australia: played 2 away
    India: played 2 away
    Zimbabwe: played 2 away

    In October / early November you’d expect India and Bangladesh would then host their 4 home games. The tables at the end of this phase would be this:

    Group A

    England: played 4 home 2 away
    Pakistan: played 4 home 2 away
    South Africa: played 3 away
    New Zealand: played 3 away
    Bangladesh: played 4 home 2 away

    Group B

    West Indies: played 4 home and 2 away
    Sri Lanka: played 4 home and 2 away
    Australia: played 3 away
    India: played 4 home 2 away
    Zimbabwe: played 3 away

    From mid November to mid Jan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Zimbabwe would host their 4 home games. In this period these 4 teams would also need to fly out for an away game (and Australia’s would fly to Zimbabwe when the groups were configured this way.)

    Anyway, by the end of Jan, all teams would have played each in a home and away game. You would then have the final (and it would all be wrapped up in 8 months) Now to me, that is not a logistical nightmare.

    Also on the groups, you would rotate teams from group to group each time you had the tournament I figure.

  9. Hey Luke

    Yep, be good to have a practice match before the Test, but I don’t see how. I think that’s why I’d like T20 and ODI’s in the mix too. If you play those games before the Test, they kind of serve as practice games, or you know, games where you get acclimatized.

  10. Luke Reynolds says

    Sounding better all the time. While a tour match would be ideal, maybe by playing a T20 and an ODI first might see more players involved in all 3 formats, would be great to see a more consistent Australian team across the formats instead of the ‘who is this guy’ playing for Australia in T20 and ODI. Just a few specialists in each format. As long as Ashes, Border-Gavaskar and 1 or 2 other series keep on going, this may have merit.

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