Free Markets, Natural Selection, and Cricket
Free Market Theory basically suggests that the market should be allowed to determine what's best for the stakeholders with minimal intervention from administrators.
Drawing a parallel to cricket, there seems to be a great demand for the shortest version of the game—Twenty20 (T20)—in some markets. Thus, if the market decides that this format is good for the stakeholders, i.e. the public, then who is to stop T20 to grow? In fact it is the duty of the system to cater to that market demand.
I agree that free markets in their absolute form never work. The current economic crisis is a chilling reminder that prudent interventions and more robust systems are urgently needed. However, that does not take anything away from the free market system.
The ICC has the duty to ensure that cricket does not get into a crisis by ensuring that all stakeholders' demands are met. Therefore, the ICC should develop frameworks that will allow all forms of the game to flourish. This, in effect, will take care of the demands of various market segments, i.e. the traditionalists/romantics and the liberals.
The ICC should not allow series such as a seven One Day Internationals (ODIs), two Tests and two T20s. There should be enough in it to address demands from different segments. It should more or less standardise the format of a tour. A minimum of three Tests, no more than five ODIs and two T20s sounds fair enough though personally I'd like to see four or five Tests.
Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection says that the fittest only survive. In cricket too, only the fittest, i.e. the most popular, will survive.
Cricket, in its earliest form, would have been soporific to say the least. It has evolved a great deal and the present forms have developed in response to the market demands. Perhaps over the years the game as we currently know it may change for better (or for worse, depending on how one sees it).
To lament the loss of the soul of cricket to the new-fangled format is to live in the past. T20 is here to stay. But T20 and Tests need not be mutually exclusive entities.
The onus is really on us cricket fans to ensure that the oldest form of the great game survives.
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