In his latest video shared on Youtube, R Ashwin has come up with an in-depth explanation of the importance of a robust first-class structure for the development of T20 cricket. As franchise cricket proliferates around the globe at an unprecedented rate, the other two formats – Test and ODI – are finding it hard to hold their relevance.

These developments have widened the chasm between the two schools of thought. One believes the game should respect the tradition and stick to the existing structure, which has worked so well for cricket, while the other argues in favour of the ongoing change. Ravi Shastri, the former head coach, recently opined that only 3-4 major countries should play Test cricket – the pinnacle of the game. 

Shastri has been a great cheerleader of the franchise format, and even thinks cricket should ditch the bilateral tournaments and adopt the club-based model that is seen in football. Ashwin, however, feels that the route suggested by Shastri will be detrimental to cricket in the long run.

“Recently Ravi bhai said Test cricket should be made as a format that only 3-4 nations play. But when 3-4 nations play, teams like Ireland won’t get won’t get the opportunity to play,” Ashwin said.

He then explained how first-class structure builds a solid foundation for a player, and makes the transition to the shortest format of the game smoother. There is a logic to his arguement. Without a good base, it’s really hard to crack a format as fickle as T20. 

“Only when you play Test cricket, your first-class structure will get better. And only when your first-class structure is good, people will get more opportunities. And players who do well in first-class cricket mould their game according to T20 cricket. That’s how cricket has shaped up,” he added.

The off-spinner also lamented about the disappearance of first-class games in the West Indies, as they have been replaced by numerous T20 tournaments. Consequently, the quality of West Indies cricket has declined. 

“How will you strengthen first-class cricket? For that Test cricket needs to be relevant in your country. If Test cricket is not relevant, they won’t play it with full interest. I’m currently in West Indies and here we can see that first-class cricket is almost gone. There are multiple T20 tournaments,” Ashwin added.

Lead Image: R Ashwin/Instagram