After introducing day and night, pink-ball Test matches to redeem the dying popularity of the oldest and traditional form of the cricket, which has seen sharp decline in the audience’s interest over the last few years, ICC has now proposed on trimming the number of days to four to instil the excitement about the game back into people’s mindset.
It is no secret or surprise that the fans especially in countries like India where the game enjoys exceptional popularity have started preferring limited-overs and shorter formats of the game turn out at the match venues only during the limited-overs game.
The first-ever pink-ball Test match played on Indian soil which was also the first day-night match of the Indian Cricket team, witnessed an unprecedented turn out of people at the iconic Eden Gardens ground in Kolkata. The move to organise the pink ball Test match in India by the former Indian captain and BCCI Chief Sourav Ganguly garnered praises from all corners and pundits of the game and was seen as something that would revive the excitement in the game for the younger generation.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has now proposed to cut down one day from the game and make it a four-day event and believes that the move would help revive the game which is losing its grip in the mindsets of the young fans who prefer shorter formats of the game.
The move is also prompted by results Test matches have been emitting lately with most matches ending inside four days.
Although four day Test matches have been part of the International cricket lately, it largely remained one-off affairs and were never made permanent. Strong teams had at times preferred playing four-day matches against minnows and newbies.
In December 2017, South Africa played a four day Test match against Zimbabwe while in 2019 England played the newbies Ireland for a four day Test match.
If reports in ESPNCricinfo are to be believed, the ICC is planning to give the four day Test matches the permanency status and would introduce the Test matches for the 2023-2031 cycle of World Test Championship.
Too early to comment on the proposal: Ganguly
BCCI Chief, Sourav Ganguly, however, believed that it was too early to comment on the proposal and that the board would need to see the proposal after it comes before taking a call on the matter. He added that the board of himself could not comment ‘just like this’ even before looking at the proposal that will be made.
“First we will have to see the proposal, let it come… It’s too early to say. Can’t comment just like this,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.
The reports have grasped mixed reactions by the stakeholders, former cricketers and cricket pundits who have remained divided on their opinion.
Indian players’ representative not happy with a proposal:
Anshuman Gaekwad, the Indian players’ representative to BCCI’s Apex Council, is of the opinion that the late results of Test matches that ended in four days were because the contests between stronger and weaker teams have been lop-sided and that it would be a concern when two teams who match equally will be up against each other.
“At the moment the strength of teams like South Africa and Sri Lanka is down, but what happens when South Africa get good replacements for Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers and Sri Lanka get batsmen of the calibre of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara?” Gaekwad questioned.
Gaekwad also believed that Test cricket still enjoys popularity in India and that the board should get when and where to host the Test matches right.
“For India, we have to get when and where to host the Tests right; there is still a big following for Tests, like earlier, the Pongal Test would be played in Chennai and the New Year Test in Kolkata, Diwali in Mumbai. It is important to pick the occasion when it is holidays, and the crowd would come” Gaekwad said.
Cricket Australia’s chief backs ICC proposal:
Ganguly’s Australia counterpart Kevin Roberts is reportedly baking the four-day Test matches idea and has added that it would enhance the game and would bring more excitement. Australian captain Tim Paine, however, is not impressed with the proposal.
“We might not have got a result if we’d done that in the Ashes, I think every game went to the fifth day,” Paine said after Boxing Day Test match against New Zealand.
Virat Kohli says not endorsing the proposal:
Paine’s Indian counterpart Virat Kohli has also voiced concern over the move and has added that Test cricket should not be tinkered too much, and day-night Test should be the most that are changed about Test cricket.
“According to me, it should not be altered. As I said, the day-night is another step towards commercialising Test cricket and you know, creating excitement around it, but it can’t be tinkered with too much. I don’t believe so; you know the Day-Night Test is the most that should be changed about Test cricket, according to me” Kohli said during a press conference ahead of SL T20I series.
“So I don’t endorse that at all. I don’t think that is fair to the purest format of the game. How cricket started initially, and you know five-day Tests was the highest of tests you can have at the International level” Kohli added.