Reviewing the effectiveness of the points system in place, is it worth the hype?
When things tend to go wrong, nothing much appears too bright. Just look at England, especially this week and this adage is vindicated.
This week has been a rather haphazard one for England. First, the referendum that forced the much vaunted Brexit, and then the colossal upset to Iceland in the Euros. Amidst all the doom and gloom, cricket has been holding its own (although the gloomy English weather has threatened to play spoilsport).
The young, revamped England One Day International side has been marching all over Sri Lanka and is dishing out one dominating performance after another. They had their moments of embarrassment too in the 2015 World Cup but have since mended their ways with some aplomb.
The innings of Jason Roy epitomised the new free spirit that has seeped into England, and no wonder the team is brimming with confidence. In a rather innocuous way, they offer hope to the rest of the country that if wise heads come together and plan and foresee with conviction, the distant light at the end of the tunnel can be attained.
Andrew Strauss, the director of England has been the brains behind this transformation. He assumed charge during a very difficult period but has turned things around with his pragmatic approach. In connivance with Trevor Bayliss, Strauss has transformed the mundane and stoic English cricket to a much more vibrant outfit. Credit should be given where it is due!
Strauss is also the brain behind the point system which is in place for the ongoing series against Sri Lanka. He believed, and he is justified to a great extent that introducing a point system will add much context and fervour to a bilateral series. There will be cynics around who will jump at any moment and criticise any new development, but the introduction of the point system was without a doubt a novel concept.
However, even after 3 test-matches, and 4 ODIs, this system has not won any accolades with the fans. Perhaps, this is one blip which needs more introspection. In many ways, this system might just devalue the worth of Test Cricket in the future. And this is where the aberration lies. All this experimentation and new changes are primarily aimed at engaging with the audience, but then is it serving the purpose?
Test Matches undermined?
Test matches and test victories will any day be of much greater importance than an ODI victory, but according to the current point system, a Test victory is undermined in many ways. Factor this, a test victory yields 4 points and victories in One Dayers and T20 is worth 2 points. Hence, if a team wins a 3-match Test Series 1-0, and goes on to lose the subsequent 5-match series 4-1. The series will then be tied at 8 points each and just like that a test series win is undermined.
If the series is played between Sri Lanka and Australia, and Sri Lanka win the Test Series which is a significant achievement, will be of no avail by the end of the tour! This does no justice to the worth of a Test Victory, and this fact is just what the doctor did not order for Test Cricket.
Test cricket is and should be the pinnacle of all formats and nothing should rob its glory. In the current scenario, we are compromising on the longer format and perhaps this is why the fans have not yet taken to the concept. Also, if a team wins the first Test Match it becomes very difficult for the opposition to play catch up in the rest of the tour.
And then what happens when the Ashes comes around. Historically England have not done very well in the ODI series which follow the Ashes triumph. They win the Test Matches and then go on to lose the subsequent limited overs leg. No one remembers the ODI defeats, but if the point system remains intact it will, by all means, take the sheen out of the test triumphs.
“I believe you have to look at giving every match context. If it is a case of just another Test match or just another five-ODI series between two nations, it loses some of its context and some of its meaning and that is something the ICC needs to look at. I personally think there is scope in linking up Test, ODI and T20 cricket in some sort of bigger world championship that involves all three formats. It’s an idea I’ve been a fan of for a long time", Strauss said.
He sounds right, the plans seem to be in the right vein, but when implemented it may not have too many takers because of the massive loopholes prevalent. Nothing should ever erode the sanctity of Test Cricket, and this points system in a very uncanny manner is doing exactly that. Perhaps a further tweak is needed!