English cricket must react as game’s ‘tectonic plates’ shift, Andrew Strauss claims

·4-min read
Strauss has acknowledged the established order was under threat (Getty Images)
Strauss has acknowledged the established order was under threat (Getty Images)

Sir Andrew Strauss has warned that English cricket needs to be ready to react as the “tectonic plates” of the world game continue to shift.

Speaking ahead of this week’s Lord’s Test against South Africa, during which the home of cricket will once again turn ‘red for Ruth’ in honour of the former England captain’s late wife and the foundation he set up in her name, Strauss acknowledged the established order was under threat.

With Twenty20 leagues demanding more and more time in the calendar, Test cricket’s primacy on the wane outside of the so-called ‘big three’ of England, India and Australia and players increasingly being forced to choose a path, the outlook is altering rapidly.

And Strauss, who is chairing a high-performance review at the England and Wales Cricket Board in his role as strategic advisor, accepts the governing body has work to do the protect its status.

“The game of cricket has changed and evolved and developed since the beginning of time but it definitely feels like, right at the moment, the rate of change is increasing,” he said.

“The proliferation of T20 leagues and the shifting tectonic plates is a very live issue – the cricket world around us is changing unbelievably quickly.

“Every day, every week, every month, we’re seeing a new example of how that world is changing around us. And I suppose one thing that we’re having to ask ourselves the questions of in this country is, where does our game fit into all of that?

“I think one of the things that we need to be conscious of in the game in this country is we have to be nimble and adaptable. We can’t afford to be slow moving and have our heads in the sand.

“I think that’s really important that we set ourselves up in this country, we set the game up in a way that allows us to be flexible and adaptable. Because if players have got many opportunities, which some of our players have, they will always look at those opportunities side by side won’t they and decide what’s best for them and you don’t hold that against them.”

“So we need to continue promoting all the brilliant things that cricket in this country offers players – we want to have a strong vibrant domestic game and we want to make sure the players are playing the right balance of formats as well, so that it’s not all drifting down that white-ball short form route.

“There’s still plenty of players that want to commit and challenge themselves to be the best Test cricketers they can be.

 (PA Archive)
(PA Archive)

“For the most part, cricketers have it as good as they’ve ever had it at the moment, in terms of financial opportunities, but also opportunities to do great things and be remembered for what you do – which is equally important.”

In the more immediate term, Strauss’ energies will be poured into delivering the Ruth Strauss Foundation’s fourth annual fundraising and awareness event.

Once again, players, supporters and fans will be turning out in red in support of the charity’s work supporting the families of those affected by non-smoking lung cancers.

“Every year we’ve just been blown away by the support we’ve received. It’s always surpassed our expectations,” he said.

“One thing we’re focussed on is delivering on the mission and in order to do that we need funds to allow us to do that.

“We know we’ll get fantastic support again this year and hopefully, as we’ve said every year, the Red For Ruth day and the Test match adds to the spectacle of the cricket as well and therefore it makes the whole thing a great occasion as well as a fundraising thing for us.

“If it’s a cause that registers and connects with people I’m sure they’ll want to support it. Hopefully people remain connected to the cause.

“Anyone who has a family, the idea of losing a parent is an awful situation to go through so if we can make that journey easier for people, as brutal as it is, it’s worth us spending the time to try and facilitate that.”