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For Test cricket to thrive, India has leadership role to play: CWI CEO Johnny Grave

Grave, who joined Cricket West Indies (CWI) back in 2017, lauded the BCCI's unwavering commitment to Test cricket despite a gruelling calendar but said more needs to be done at the ICC level to protect the red-ball game outside the big three comprising India, England and Australia.
Last Updated : 16 June 2024, 07:42 IST

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Bridgetown: Test cricket remains in danger and powerhouse India has a "leadership role to play" in ensuring the five-day game not just survives but thrives in smaller regions like the West Indies, its CEO Johnny Grave told PTI.

Grave, who joined Cricket West Indies (CWI) back in 2017, lauded the BCCI's unwavering commitment to Test cricket despite a gruelling calendar but said more needs to be done at the ICC level to protect the red-ball game outside the big three comprising India, England and Australia.

Only the big three out of the nine competing ICC full members will play a five-match series in the 2023-2025 World Test Championship cycle. Three full members -- Ireland, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe -- have never been part of the championship introduced in 2019.

Grave, currently busy with co-hosting of the T20 World Cup, spoke his mind on future of the game and the role he expects the BCCI to play.

"India have a leadership role to play. They're now the number one board when it comes to power, influence, and resources. To date, they've been fantastic in how they've continued to play all three formats of the game, their commitment to Test cricket. I don't think it has ever been as strong as it is now," said Grave.

With the ICC being a members' body, the BCCI's stance on any subject carries huge significance. Are they doing enough in the leadership role? "I think they are. They're becoming increasingly influential in the key decisions that the ICC makes. The BCCI were hugely supportive in one of the biggest things the ICC have achieved in the last 12 months, which is getting cricket back into the Olympics.

"The fact that India came on board and supported that bid was absolutely, in my opinion, crucial for the result that the ICC got, which was the acceptance of cricket into the LA Games.

"And we're already seeing from the associate world in particular, that being an Olympic sport has a very big impact on them positively in terms of how they can get money from government, get money from the Olympic associations to drive the game at all levels," he said referring to the sport's return to the Summer Games after 128 years.

Centralise at least travel costs and accommodation in WTC ===================================== India have toured the West Indies thrice in the last five years, providing a massive financial boost to the CWI, which depends on media rights money from Indian and English broadcasters to keep the game afloat in the Caribbean.

As of the now, series in the WTC cycle are staged like bilateral rubbers with the home board pocketing all broadcast revenues and the visiting teams having to pay for their own travel.

Grave wants the ICC to centralise at least the travel costs as the West Indies have to spend the most in crisscrossing the world.

"We have to have a league mentality that we're all in it together as the Test playing nations. And I think the World Test Championship is a start to that. I think it's gaining some momentum. I think it can be improved.

"Centralise flights and accommodation within the World Test Championship and take on those costs as the costs of the league rather than placing all that burden on the participating teams as we're so negatively disadvantaged by that," said the CWI CEO.

T20 World Cup to make economic boost of USD300 million in region =========================================== In Grave's words, the CWI has not been in a better place financially after multiple tours from India and England in the post-COVID era. The T20 World Cup, which is the first ICC men's event held in the Caribbean since 2010, will also add to the coffers of CWI which generates an annual revenue of USD 50 million.

The six chosen venues needed urgent renovation for being World Cup ready and that has been done at a cost of USD 50 million approximately, with half of them spent on the Kensington Oval in Barbados, where the final will be staged.

"It's been 14 years since we hosted our last men's event. And it's hugely important (that we get to host world events).

"... (building infrastructure) It's a huge part of hosting a World Cup because the legacy of that means that the six grounds that are hosting or playing hosts for this World Cup will have facilities that we, Cricket West Indies and our home boards, can benefit from for hopefully the next decade," he said The West Indies are co-hosting the T20 showpiece with USA and going forward, more world events will be jointly hosted and not just by the big three, as it has been the case in the last 10 years.

"We made the point that we think there should be more equal revenue sharing of ICC distributions (India gets the lion share of that). And part of that equality was the spreading around the men's events.

"Some of the bigger host countries could be making a hundred million US dollars from hosting a men's events based on the revenues that they would keep.

"And therefore, it's another way in which if you're not spreading around those events, that the few nations that do host are benefiting more than others, as well as getting the on the field home advantage and playing in home conditions that they should know better and be able to adapt better.

"It's an important part of the change of the next cycle, there's going to be multiple teams hosting," said Grave.

Don't see BCCI releasing their players for overseas leagues ever ======================================== A record three Indian female cricketers will participate in the upcoming Women's CPL but Grave doesn't see their male counterparts getting the time to play outside the IPL.

"There are already non-stop cricket. So, I don't see it happening." If West Indies win T20 World Cup, party will go on for months ======================================= CWI has got itself into a secure place financially but it will take a special effort from the home team to revitalise the game in the region.

"It's (the pride of playing for West Indies) has always been there. It's probably hasn't been articulated as well by the players as it has been, but we've got very good relations with them.

"I can guarantee you, if the West Indies lift this trophy, a record third trophy in the T20, the party in the Caribbean will be going for many, many months afterwards," added Grave.

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Published 16 June 2024, 07:42 IST

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