Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja has proposed an annual quadrangular T20I tournament, T20I Super Series, involving arch-rivals India and Pakistan and Ashes rivals Australia and England. The 59-year old presented the idea on his Twitter handle.
“We have got to break the barriers for the sake of the game and the fans,” the former Pakistan captain told Cricbuzz on Wednesday (January 12).
Furthermore, the PCB Chairman expressed that the idea is not merely meant to host the tournament involving the powerhouses of the game to attract more fans, but rather to generate more revenue through the tournament, which will be shared among the cricket boards of the participating in the event. Moreover, he is even proposing the idea to set up a Limited Liability Company (LLC) at the ICC with a dedicated team and a Chief Executive Officer for the purpose.
He plans to pitch the concept to the ICC board of directors in March, noting that bilateral series in the format is financially taxing and that a tournament like this would be a means to earn more cash from them.
“My view is that a new structure based on pooling and sharing of income should be formed,” Ramiz Raja told ESPNcricinfo. “The idea is to register a company that works under the ICC and has a dedicated Chief Executive Officer regulating the entire financial model, with the income divided among all the members. There are numerous rivalries like Ashes, Pakistan-India rivalry so it can’t go wrong when four T20 sides come and play each other. We need to whet the fans’ appetite as they are getting fatigued, and we need to create something outside the FTP.”
Explaining the matter further, he added that the concept was akin to the rugby union format, in which six European teams compete yearly in the Six Nations tournament.
“I am not a big fan of bilateral T20 series as T20I cricket needs a new life amid the challenges around franchise cricket. Playing five bilateral T20Is is tedious, but if three or four nations play each other rather than bilateral series, that has massive potential in terms of generating revenue. It’s not like we need to create a parallel body like the Big Four, but it’s about generating interest and the income can go to the other boards too,” the 1992 World Cup-winning player said.
As per Raja, the concept might energise little skirmishes inside the series, counteracting the obstacles posed by the game’s privatisation through franchise-based leagues. Moreover, he opined that if the ICC is unable to find a window for such an event in the calendar, which is already quite jam-packed, “then cricket is doomed”.
“It could be a financial and viewing bonanza as there would be numerous little battles like Pakistan-India and Ashes rivalry (England-Australia) within such a competition. It would be a great comeback of sorts for countries competition (international cricket) as a challenge of franchise cricket mounts,” he said.
A four-step qualification process for the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year will begin in April, culminating in a 16-team global qualifier that feeds into the main event, which will include Sri Lanka and the West Indies. However, most T20I cricket played by Full Members will be bilateral and, essentially, preparation for the main event in Australia.
Besides the packed calendar of the ICC, there are several challenges that may not let the idea come to fruition. The diplomatic tensions between India and Pakistan haven’t made it possible for a bilateral series to be held between the two teams, and it does not seem to be in view in the near future. However, the two nations have, although not square-off outside ICC events in over a decade, are continually seen facing off in the ICC championships.
Another challenge is the strict clauses in the Members Participation Agreement (MPA) of the ICC that won’t make it plain-sailing for the idea to take shape.
Speaking specifically about the India-Pakistan rivalry and the impact it will have, Ramiz Raja said, “We want to move forward. Look at the numbers from the T20 World Cup. When Pakistan plays India the world stops to watch and it’s a great spectacle. We have to see what fans want and we have to do what is right. We have to talk about this and elaborate on what we want to do. There is a potential discussion in the works that I want to table to the ICC and see how it goes.”