The writing is on the wall. It seems as if sooner or later ‒ maybe sooner rather than later that Test cricket will be a game in the past. The reason is financial, since the five day games do not attract the crowds or TV rights. The latest is that the two Tests, three ODIs and One Twenty/20 game between Sri Lanka and the West Indies were cancelled and replaced by an ODI triangular ‒ West Indies, Sri Lanka and India now underway in the Caribbean.
It is extremely difficult these days to attract sponsors for Test cricket since viewers and spectators prefer the shorter versions of the game.
I recall an interview I did with Sam Loxton, a member of the Sir Donald Bradman invincibles a few years ago in Queensland, who said that the Twenty/20 game was not cricket, and former Windies speedster Michael Holding endorsed the then 85-year-old’s statement. Loxton has since died and Holding now has a different view of the shortest version of the game, saying that it is lucrative to both the players and cricket associations.
Moreover, there is strong evidence that the T20 games are attracting huge sponsors since the West Indies Cricket Board has already sold the rights for its annual Twenty/20 to the little known Verus International organisation under the banner of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL). Since then, Digicel, the former sponsor of West Indies cricket, has taken a lead role preparing for the July 28-August 6 tournament.
I am of the view that the now disgraced Allen Stanford was the man who paved the way for the T20 cricket to be given international attention.
The Texan who lived and invested tens of millions of dollars in various business ventures in Antigua spent large sums of money in promoting the T20, bringing it in line with baseball. He organized competitions among 22 countries and paid substantial prize-money, etc. He also spent millions of dollars in improving facilities between Bermuda and Guyana and had 10 legends such as Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Vivian Richards, and others on his payroll for years to promote the game. He also arranged a competition between a West Indies eleven against England and paid out US$20 million to the winning team ‒ the West Indies.
The players are now earning big bucks because of the tremendous sponsor-ship. Tony Cozier, the famous commentator recently indicated that the present triangular series is a competition for the Celkon Mobile Cup, the name of an Indian manufacturer of mobile phones. It and the names of a number of other Indian products and services are unheard of in the Caribbean, but the products are advertised on the advertising boards in grounds in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. Moreover the matches are broadcast live on television to India and several other countries in the world. What is new also is that the games are covered in English and Hindi.
Cricket fans in the region and the world over now prefer ODI and T/20 rather than the five-day Test matches.