Sporting Declaration: New Year's revolution

SPORTING Declaration thought long and hard about my New Year's resolutions for 2013.

I pondered giving up alcohol, gambling and junk food but decided it would be un-Australian not to continue supporting these unfairly maligned industries.

I considered getting some exercise but abandoned this plan when I broke into a cold sweat and starting feeling ill.

I even (briefly) entertained the unthinkable prospect of extending an olive branch to Tottenham Hotspur and their dim-witted supporters before fortunately coming to my senses.

Instead I had an epiphany and resolved to use the year ahead to launch a campaign that will transform cricket as we know it.

Call it my New Year's revolution.

Cricket is in dire need of an overhaul at both club and international level, and this traditionally outside-the-square column can be the catalyst for change.

Let's start with Test matches.

Last week yours truly was in Mexico to cover the Newcastle Jets' clash with Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park.

Subscribing to the theory that you should never let a chance go by, I decided to parlay this into days three and four of the MCG Test between the Aussies and Sri Lanka.

Only drama was that, as things panned out, there was no day four because the Lankans folded like a cheap suit shortly after lunch on day three.

Three of their pea-hearts did not even bat because they were (allegedly) injured.

This left me roaming the streets of Bleak City until my 8pm flight home, cursing the injustice of a spineless display by the tourists.

Why, I thought, should the average cricketing tragic, the lifeblood of the game, be made to suffer for the failings of overpaid, under-performing players?

How can such non-productivity - which no doubt costs cricket authorities and TV broadcasters big time - be avoided in the future?

It was at this moment I had one of my trademark lightbulb moments.

The solution is simple: keep playing Test cricket over five days, but make it unlimited innings per side.

Hence, when Australia rolled Sri Lanka last week, they could have sent them in again and tried to bowl them out three or four more times and chase the runs.

Rather than having anti-climactic early finishes, Tests would be played to the last ball of day five.

Teams would have the incentive of trying to inflict upon their opponents a world-record hammering, which would create unprecedented interest.

Suddenly no-hopers like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh would become major drawcards, dragging fans through the turnstiles in the hope of seeing them routed half-a-dozen times in the same Test.

It would open up new opportunities for bowlers. Jim Laker's record haul of 19 wickets in a single Test would soon be under siege.

Alternatively, teams might prefer to use the "leftover" portion of a Test match for batting practice and to boost their averages.

Last week, for instance, Australia could have padded up for a second dig and spent the next 2½ days making Sri Lanka chase leather, which would have been a fitting punishment.

Michael Clarke could have racked up a quick 500 not out against a bunch of easybeats who had thrown in the towel.

The game would be the winner.

At club level, meanwhile, Sporting Declaration has been intrigued by the proposal to create a so-called "Premier League" in Newcastle District Cricket Association, apparently using a promotion-relegation system.

This concept has more merit than its predecessor, which was simply to turf a couple of clubs out or force them into a shotgun marriage.

The problem, apparently, is that heavyweight clubs Merewether and Hamilton-Wickham can't get a decent game because nobody is up to their standard.

Rather than all the annual upheaval and pressure the promotion-relegation system would cause, I believe there is a more straightforward remedy that would suit all parties.

Instead of a Premier League, it is time to form an "Inferior League" of 10 clubs quite willing to accept and embrace their own mediocrity.

Merewether and Hamwicks, of course, would be in a league of their own and play each other each week, and at the end of every season they would invite the standout players in the Inferior League to come and join them.

Thus Merewether and Hamwicks would no longer have to deal with these snide accusations that they are stockpiling the best talent and causing an imbalance.

After all, it's not their fault that people want to play for them. They shouldn't have to lower their standards.

Anyway, so much for my New Year's resolutions. I like a challenge.

All the best sticking to yours.

Australia celebrate after they defeated Sri Lanka on day three of the Second Test. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Australia celebrate after they defeated Sri Lanka on day three of the Second Test. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images


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