On the Front Foot: Short-sighted approach to Twenty20 leaves world getting smaller

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The Independent Online

It is generally agreed that the best way, indeed the only way, to take cricket to the wider world is through Twenty20.

Don't take this column's word for it, listen to Haroon Lorgat, the International Cricket Council's chief executive. "I support the view that the best way to globalise the game would be through the Twenty20 format. So in my view 16 teams participating in the [World] Twenty20 every two years is the way to globalise the game." He made that statement the day after the ICC had reversed previous policy and decided that the number of countries in the World Twenty20 should be 12, not 16, so there will be only two qualifying places. Some globalisation policy, you may think. Perhaps cricket does not need globalising, perhaps it is cosy enough in the small world it has inhabited for more than 100 years. But only by spreading the gospel can the ICC be sure of professional survival. The talk is always of the United States and China, but nothing much has happened. The reason for the amendment was that the ICC caved in to bleating from the minor nations annoyed at exclusion from the 50-over World Cup, which had been reduced to 10 teams to shorten its interminable length and is now back up to 14. So there will be another unwieldy World Cup, at least two Twenty20s which miss the point, and stagnation.

Blinkered about Hawk-Eye

To general lack of astonishment, there has been a fudge over the Umpire Decision Review System. It remains official ICC policy and is, after all, to be used in every international match. Except there will be no regulation use of Hawk-Eye or the grey mat for lbw decisions, which have been crucial to its effectiveness. The reason was simple: without that concession, India would have refused to budge from their anti-DRS stance. Without India, it was going nowhere. As Bala Ramanathan wrote to OTFF: "I understand as a former ardent follower of cricket growing up in India the need of DRS in modern cricket, but at the same time the game depends on a billion followers in India. History shows that countries have always exerted their influence, UK, USA, modern China, so the BCCI [the Indian board] exerting their new wealth is no big deal. Ultimately, world cricket needs India rather than vice versa." Which sums it up both neatly and gloomily.

Letters for a Broad

After an initial burst, so to speak, there has been a hiatus in the flow of entries to the OTFF competition summing up a player with a pithy sentence using his initials. But Mervyn Benford has submitted a few attempts, the best of which was for Stuart (SCJ) Broad: Should Control Jarring Behaviour. This is the last chance to win a couple of tickets for a day at one of the Tests between England and India; simply email the address below.

Snow may not be frozen out

The campaign to win honours for some of England's gongless cricketers has gained support. Alan Knott, John Snow and Tony Greig might yet receive their rewards if public opinion is a yardstick. Martin Welsh suggests knighthoods should be the order of the day. "People forget how well Knott and Greig played Lillee and Thomson," he said. "Knott's keeping is well-known, but I think Greig's record is forgotten because Botham followed him. As for Snow, best English fast bowler since the mid-Sixties with a wonderful record in Australia and West Indies." So there. Arise lads, arise, with MBEs at least.