New Zealand Cricket (NZC) is considering reducing the class rounds to 5 from 10 for the next season of the Plunket Shield, the domestic first-class tournament in the country. This is being pondered in the wake of the ODI and T20 World Cups scheduled in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson is not amused by the move and he is called for more focus on Red Ball cricket. He wants the Board to take a leaf out the book of English County cricket where there is more attention to the longest format of the game. Williamson has spent a couple of seasons with Gloucestershire and Yorkshire and he reckons Test cricket is necessary to groom young talents in the country.
“The Plunket Shield format [of 10 rounds] is very important,” Williamson told New Zealand Herald on Saturday (September 2). “Having experienced the county championship in England, which has 16 four-dayers a season, I see so much value in that competition for the development of cricketers,” he said.
“The more cricket you’re exposed to, and particularly in the longer format, the more you get an understanding of your game. Players then adapt as the game gets shorter,” he added.
“In England, you see young guys, maybe 26 years of age, who might’ve played 100 first-class games. They have marked ‘centre’ that many times and have so many failures and successes that it helps them learn and mature quicker,” the right-hander added.
The chief executive of NZC has contrasting views to Kane Williamson and he wants the players to prepare for the amount of limited overs cricket that will be played in the coming years.
“If we’ve got in a four-year period of two World T20s and a 50-over World Cup and two Test-match competitions, what is the right mix of cricket domestically to ensure we’re competitive at international level?” asked David White, the NZC chief executive, said last month.
New Zealand haven’t played too much Test cricket of late. They featured in just 5 Tests last year with one of those being washed out. They aren’t scheduled to play a lot of Test cricket in the near future either that makes Kane Williamson a little worried.
“I know I’ll be part of a few discussions in the next week, but I’m a big advocate of the Test game, so I’m open to new ways to keep it attractive and at the forefront of international cricket. Many of those I talk to still believe it is the pinnacle of the sport because it challenges you in so many ways, and that mindset underlines the importance of the domestic first-class game,” he added.