‘India has leadership role to play’ for Test cricket to thrive, says CWI CEO Johnny Grave

West Indies

India has a “leadership role to play” in ensuring that Test cricket not just survives but thrives in regions like the West Indies, according to its CEO Johnny Grave.

Grave, who joined Cricket West Indies (CWI) back in 2017, lauded the BCCI’s 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 India, England and Australia.

Out of the nine competing ICC Full Members, only these three will play a five-match series in the 2023-2025 World Test Championship cycle. Three teams – Ireland, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe – have never been part of the championship, which was introduced in 2019.

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

“India have a leadership role to play,” Grave told PTI. “They’re now the No. 1 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, [and with] their commitment to Test cricket. I don’t think it has ever been as strong as it is now.”

“Centralise flights and accommodation within the WTC and take on those costs as the costs of the league rather than placing all that burden on the participating teams”

Johnny Grave’s request for the ICC

Is the BCCI doing enough in the leadership role? “I think they are,” Grave said. “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 after a gap of 128 years.

“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.”

“Centralise travel costs and accommodation in WTC”

India have toured the West Indies three times in the last five years, providing a massive financial boost to the CWI, which largely depends on media-rights money from Indian and English broadcasters to keep the game afloat in the Caribbean.

As of now, series in the WTC cycle are bilaterals 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 the travel costs – West Indies have to spend quite a bit on travel in crisscrossing the globe.

“We have to have a league mentality that we’re all in it together as the Test playing nations,'” Grave said. “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.”

“We made the point that we think there should be more equal revenue sharing of ICC distributions. And part of that equality was the spreading around the men’s events”

Johnny Grave

T20 World Cup to offer economic boost of US$300 million in the 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 US$50 million.

The six chosen venues needed urgent renovation to be World Cup ready and that has cost $50 million approximately, with half of the amount 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,” he said. “And it’s hugely important [that we get to host world events].

“[Building infrastructure] is a huge part of hosting a World Cup because the legacy of that means that the six grounds that are playing hosts for this World Cup will have facilities that we, Cricket West Indies and our home boards, can benefit from for hopefully for the next decade.”

West Indies are co-hosting the T20 showpiece with USA, and going forward, more world events will be jointly hosted and not just by India, England and Australia, as it has been the case in the last ten years.

“We made the point that we think there should be more equal revenue sharing of ICC distributions [BCCI currently gets nearly 40% of the share]. And part of that equality was the spreading around [the hosting rights for] the men’s events.

“Some of the bigger host countries could be making $100 million from hosting a men’s event 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 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.”

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