Four-Day Test Matches: The Future Of Cricket?
England have almost confirmed to play Ireland next year for a four-day Test match at Lord’s. Almost, because you can’t really trust any of the “Big Three” (India, England and Australia) to commit to their schedules these days. However, that is for another day. For now, the arrival of four-day Tests in England is big news and not least for Ireland. While South Africa did play Zimbabwe in a four-day Test match recently, news of any of the “Big Three” playing it is something that makes the world notice.
So, are four-day Tests the way ahead for cricket’s oldest and not necessarily the most beloved format? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves quite yet. Mostly because the Ashes are still raking in attention and you can count on India to draw a large crowd when they tour England this summer. So major Test playing nations don’t exactly need this change. Not while they are playing each other.
But what about the others? And what about when any of the “Big Three” plays the others? We have seen many series being timid affairs with some exceptions here and there.
Let’s not be blind to the fact that hardly any Tests reach five days anymore. That is even despite poor over rates and a bunch of evenly matched teams for quite some time now. So, what has changed?
Teams and players are simply playing a faster paced game nowadays.
While Afghanistan haven’t yet played a Test, you can’t expect new entrants like them to show the old virtues of Test cricket. From the evidence of how they have played their limited overs cricket so far, they are a bunch of show men and you will rarely find them grinding it out. Not because they don’t want to, it’s just that they haven’t learnt or played their game in that manner.
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The same is the case with not so new teams like West Indies, Bangladesh. See anything common? These are the teams that are either new or those who are lying low in the rankings. That’s where four-day Tests come in. Games involving teams like Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, West Indies just don’t stretch to five days anymore. It would increasingly make games more watchable and competitive if these sides play in four- day games. We have already seen how smaller formats makes games more watchable and interesting for viewers.
While all the cricketing boards have rejected two-tier system for now, my prediction regarding the format is that big Test playing nations will continue to play five-day Tests. To keep the format relevant for smaller but equally important teams we must involve them in four-day tests. This won’t mean any disrespect to the teams it’ll simply keep test cricket relevant in these nations. This will mean that they will get more wins and more wins mean larger following! That currently is the biggest threat to the Test Cricket, the following.
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