Youth Awareness

Changes needed to popularise Test cricket

ICC panel should get on the job immediately

Fatigue of the players and disinterest of the masses are good enough to turn any sport into an elitist entertainment with a handful of enthusiastic spectators. Test matches were already showing these symptoms, with matches wrapping up in less than the projected duration and the frequency of centuries and five-wicket hauls diminishing.

The reason was attributed to increase in limited-overs matches. With the overwhelming popularity of T20, the problem will now be compounded.

In the duration that is required to finish one Test match, a T20 tournament can easily be completed with time to spare. A Test match is of 450 overs. There is a tussle between the ball and bat, especially from the third day onwards.

A Test match is a test of skills, temperament and stamina. Apart from pure entertainment and fitness, how T20 helps the game grow is something purists and former cricketers are unable to fathom.

Entertainment value

Instead of criticising the T20 format, the best way to popularise Test cricket would be by making some innovative changes. In a life that’s getting more stressful, the cricket lovers were looking for entertainment as watching a five-day Test series was time-consuming without the guarantee of any entertainment.

In the sub-continent, teams try to gain home advantage by doctoring pitches. Either the series is a dull draw or matches get over under three days. Either way, the skill level is not truly tested.

Without tinkering with the ingredients that make a Test match interesting, the 450 overs need to be divided, 125 overs per first innings and 100 per second innings. On an average, Test innings is of 100 overs but when there is a limit on overs per innings, the strategy-management will devise methods for posting a big score so that a team batting first gets a decent lead.


There are advantages for both teams. The team batting first could go on the attack if the score was over 450. The team batting second would have to reach 450 before accelerating. Here the crucial part is that both teams would know the number of overs remaining and that would make their batting line-up change, which doesn’t happen in the existing pattern.

The batsmen would have the same urgency in running between the wickets that they show in limited-overs cricket. Bowlers would have 225 overs in a match to try all the tricks without having to resort to containment, which is killing the joy of Test cricket. The reason why the T20 format is popular is it has no negative stuff. But in Test cricket, it’s to the discretion of the umpire to call a wide if the bowler keeps persisting with the leg theory.

Interesting part

The most interesting part would be in the last 30 overs of the first innings. No team would want to get into those 30 overs without a minimum of five wickets in hand, as fewer wickets in hand would mean losing scoring opportunities.

The cricket committee of the ICC needs to take measures for Test cricket to be made more entertaining and purposeful. There is no substitute for Test cricket. But cricket in all three of its versions is a spectator-oriented game. And when the longest of its three versions is losing its charm, the problem should be addressed at the earliest.


ERR says:

One -day cricket actually saved Test Cricket when attendance in most places had started dwindling and players were getting measely amount.A 5-day cricket with handful of people and groundsmen was heading towards a financial disaster.true, test cricket is classic, lingers longer in mind, but it was dying.Nobody cared for cricket in West Indies, more sheep watched in NewZealand than people.Packer really gave the much needed dose to bring life into cricket.Cricket cannot just exist in half a dozen countries as against Football.Packer ingected a dose of both life and a bit of commercial sense into cricket.20*20 does the same thing .It definitely has brought more crowd in to the stadium. The shorter, more exciting format will travel to other countries like China ,Japan and US.Families have come into stadium.

Like other things in life, cricket too will evolve. Classical music concerts coexists with Palace ground evenings of Bryan Adam ,Ricky Martin,Sonu Nigam and Mungaru Maley. Seven course dinner will exist with Pani and puri and Masala dose;Purists neeed not despair!

Shuja says:

test cricket is the real cricket and nothing can take its place. ODI,six a side, 20-20 all for the money makers, nothing can beat the strategies,brain games and the drama that a test match can provide. Inzi getting hit by a bouncer and standing up for cause of his team, well tell me can you get that kind of drama else where No way.. Couldn’t catch up the game with Long weekend outings 😦

Ali says:

ICC hints at ‘repackaging’ Test cricket

A senior official says cricket chiefs are working on plans to make Test matches more attractive and ensure the popular Twenty20 format does not destroy the traditional five-day game.

Inderjit Bindra, who joins the International Cricket Council (ICC) next month in the newly-created post of principal adviser, said the governing body was concerned at the dwindling attendances at Test matches.

“We need to learn from our experiences and move forward,” Bindra was quoted as saying in the latest issue of the Indian news magazine The Week.

“We in the ICC have had very serious discussions for the last six to eight months on how to repackage Test cricket, make it more exciting and introduce an element of competition.

“It does not mean tinkering with the form but we are looking to bringing in more audience in Test matches,” he said.

Bindra, a former president of the Indian cricket board, declined to reveal the measures being considered but said the “the ICC was looking at ways to increase scoring rates (and) have a world championship of Test cricket.”

Plans to jazz up the five-day game could be unveiled as early as next month when the ICC holds annual meetings at its headquarters in Dubai, he said.

Twenty20 matches, which last just three hours as compared to five days of Test cricket or eight hours of the 50-overs-a-side game, have become hugely popular across the world.

Bindra sidestepped suggestions that the shortest version of the sport will spell more trouble for the 50-over format than Test cricket.

“The future of 50-overs cricket is something that one has to look at in the long term,” the Week quoted Bindra as saying.

“For now, the ICC has laid a stipulation that all Test nations must play a minimum of 30 one-day internationals and 12 Tests each year as part of the existing Future Tours Program (FTP) that runs till 2012.”

The showpiece World Cup every four years is played in the 50-over format, but the last edition in the Caribbean in 2007 failed to generate the same excitement as the inaugural Twenty20 World Championships in South Africa later in the year.

Ali says:

A PLAN to allow cricketers to challenge umpiring decisions will be trialled in a Test series later this year.

The International Cricket Council’s cricket committee announced today the Hawk-Eye technology used in tennis would be part of the trial.

Under the proposal, each team would be limited to a maximum of three unsuccessful challenges per innings.

The on-field umpire would consult with the third umpire when a decision was challenged, before the on-field umpire gave the final decision.

“The committee recommended that Hawk-Eye technology could be used by the third umpire, but only for the purposes of determining the actual path of the ball up until the point that it struck the batsman and not the predictor function of the technology,” the ICC said in a statement concerning leg-before-wicket appeals.

Hawk-Eye is already used by television broadcasters in cricket.

The umpiring trial, which was approved by the ICC board in March, will be used in a Test series yet to be announced.

Umpires will still refer line decisions or boundaries to the third umpire as normal.

The committee also stressed the importance of Test cricket amid a boom in Twenty20 competitions during its two-day meeting.

“It identified Test cricket as the pinnacle of the sport and expressed the need for the best available participants to be involved in international cricket,” the ICC said.

It also wanted further investigation into the introduction of a Test league or periodic playoff for the top two sides in the Test rankings.

Changes to playing conditions were also discussed.

The committee wants a crackdown on players using substitute fielders when they go to the bathroom.

“Substitute fielders should only be permitted in cases of injury, illness or other wholly acceptable reasons,” the ICC said.

It was the opinion of the committee that “wholly acceptable reasons should be limited to extreme circumstances and should not include what is commonly referred to as a ‘comfort break”‘.

It said on-field umpires should still be allowed to consult the third umpire as to whether a catch has been taken cleanly before making the final decision.

The committee also wants to replace a bowl-out in the event of a tie in the world Twenty20 or Champions Trophy finals with a one-over-per-team playoff.

If approved, the change will come into effect at next year’s Champions Trophy in Pakistan.

All changes to playing conditions will have to be approved by the ICC’s chief executives’ committee and the ICC board. They both meet in Dubai on June 29.

The committee was chaired by former India captain Sunil Gavaskar and included former Australia captain Mark Taylor, South Africa coach Mickey Arthur and ex-West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding.

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