Ian Chappell says something stupid

I didn't intend for this to be the lead bit for this column but I couldn't ignore the comments made by Ian Chappell in his recent column for Cricinfo.

To quote him directly: "Test status is best confined to the eight nations who have had a long-standing culture of the format".

I suppose he's at least more progressive than Ravi Shastri, who wanted to restrict it to six teams.

In case you're in any doubt about which countries shouldn't have Test status, he specifically names Ireland and Afghanistan as countries that don't "have the grounds or the infrastructure to reasonably expect that status". He doesn't name the other two but it's probably reasonable to suggest that he means Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, even though neither can be described as not having the grounds or the infrastructure to support Test cricket.

Chappell does say that there should be a pathway to Test status - "Teams should still have to fulfil infrastructure and financial requirements to qualify for Test status. This would require a second-tier competition, where teams that perform well could state their case for Test status qualification."

This ignores the obvious - Ireland & Afghanistan did meet infrastructure and financial requirements and performed well in a second tier completition in the shape of the sadly defunct Intercontinental Cup.

If he examined things closely he might question why only certain nations have the infrastructure to support Test cricket. Could it be that certain cricket boards - including his own - have long been given preferential treatment by the game's administrators and receive big chunks of ICC funding despite being financially independent from it?

But he probably doesn't want to examine these things too deeply. He's an old dinosaur who wants things to be more like they were in his day. Someone who can't accept that the world is leaving him behind.

Fortunately for cricket, views like his are dying out.

What if Thailand men played like their women's team?

After their 4-0 whitewash of the Netherlands in their maiden ODI series, Thailand women entered the ODI rankings in eighth place. They sit ahead of four full members on the rankings - Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Ireland and Zimbabwe - thanks to the ICC also counting their performances in last year's aborted World Cup Qualifier - where they beat full members Zimbabwe and Bangladesh - towards their ranking.

Allow us for a moment to imagine what would be happening if Thailand's men's team were doing this well.

The demands for Thailand to be given Test status would be growing. The ICC would be promoting them as a great success of their development programme. Calls for more ODIs against the full members would be loud. We might even be already getting ready for the first ever Test match in Bangkok.

But it's not the men's team. It's the women's team. And in the world of the ICC it's the men's team that matters the most. Sure, the ICC may make cosmetic changes - Men's World Cup and Women's World Cup rather than World Cup and Women's World Cup. Gender neutral language in the laws. Listing Belinda Clarke as the first ODI double-centurion. 

But real, substantial, structural change that fully recognises women's cricket as equal to men's cricket? Not a chance.

A missed opportunity for Ireland

Regular readers of my column will know that I'm no traditionalist. But I do have a respect for cricket's history and there are many things that I'd like to come back, in particular multi-day matches for associates and not just in the Intercontinental Cup. The Auty Cup between USA & Canada, the Saudara Cup between Malaysia & Singapore, the Interport matches in East Asia.

So when looking for oppostion for a warm-up to next year's return to Test cricket for Ireland I find it disappointing that Cricket Ireland didn't give a nod to history by bringing back their traditional first-class game against Scotland. The fixture was played annually from 1909 to 2000 before falling foul of both nations increasing ICC tournament commitments.

The sides have met seven times in first-class cricket since then as part of the Intercontinental Cup, but mostly have only met each other in the limited overs formats during the current century.

It seems unlikely that Essex will be at full strength for the scheduled warm-up - county sides rarely are these days - and whilst Scotland may not have been either, they may have provided more challenging opposition. A team with a point to prove is always better preperation for a Test match against England than a glorified county second XI.

It would also show that Ireland - who no doubt would love to have sides touring England pop over for a warm-up Test match - are willing to do the same.

A missed opportunity for many reasons.