Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Justin Langer’s call to safeguard International Cricket at World Cricket Connects event

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Photo Credit: LinkedIn Profile Photo of Justin Langer AM

Former Australia cricket coach and opening batsman Justin Langer has issued a passionate plea to protect international cricket amidst growing pressures on the sport’s calendar, despite his involvement in the Indian Premier League. 

Speaking at the World Cricket Connects event hosted by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) at Lord’s, Langer emphasized the cultural and emotional significance of international cricket.

One of the topics on the agenda was the position of Test cricket in the sport’s landscape, with Langer insisting that it must not be sacrificed.

Langer advocated, “I love domestic cricket, but I also love international cricket and we have to keep protecting that. International cricket brings the whole country alive or breaks the heart of a whole country. It’s like the football at the moment, with the Euros. If England win, the whole country celebrates. That doesn’t happen in clubs.

“Two things have happened in the last 12 months. This time last year, I was at the Totteridge Cricket Club. I was there with probably 50 kids; I was watching them play cricket. It happened to be when Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins had that amazing partnership at Edgbaston (in the Ashes).

“I was watching and inside the changing room, there were 50 nine-year-old kids in their whites playing T20 cricket outside, all watching the Test match. When the winning runs were hit, they were shattered, but for 20 minutes they sat and watched this extraordinary game. That is Test cricket.

“Then last summer I commentated for Channel 7 and the West Indies, no one would have bet they would beat that Australian team at the Gabba.

“But Shamar Joseph, in Test cricket, it had Australia enthralled and it brought the Caribbean to life. I had him in the IPL with me, and in Guyana, they bought him a house, a car, he’s a national hero. Last week we saw a million people turn up to see India celebrated for winning the World Cup. That is bilateral cricket and international cricket.”

The event brought together influential figures from across the cricketing world, including former Australia women’s captain and current president of the World Cricketers’ Association, Lisa Sthalekar. She echoed Langer’s sentiments, stressing the pivotal role of player input in shaping cricket’s future amidst challenges such as scheduling and expansion.

She said: “I do think there were a number of people in the room who understand the value and importance of players. I feel like players are a huge stakeholder in the game yet have never been asked and are trying to share their views.

“You can’t reduce those full members being on the ICC board, but you can provide more independent thinking around it. By adding more independent thinking to challenge them. I’d love to see that the players have a seat at that table. Because they are a big driver and there is value in should someone represent the fans? Why are we just talking about the players?

“We heard that fans are going to be driving what cricket looks like, but they don’t have a seat at the table. There is a huge opportunity if ICC can open their doors a little bit more to independent thinking.”

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