Will changing the five-day trial format be worth it or make it vulnerable to more tweaking?
NEW DELHI: The end of the last day. It has a beautiful apocalyptic ring. the International Cricket Council ’S ( ICC ) the new proposal to consider reducing the duration of the test matches by one day, from five to four, with the aim of freeing up space and speeding up the calendar from 2023, has been perceived as a disruptive movement in a cricket world It also dissolves everything easily.
On the one hand, those who vehemently oppose the play, including the best cricketers in Australia and their coach. They feel that cutting a day off would introduce the element of time, altering the free flow nature of the format. Stripped of its essence, the Tests would simply become a limited long-range format, they argue.
On the other hand, there are the increasingly open jaws of the commercial engine of world cricket, which demand more of the instant variety of sport. Those who operate it have essentially ruled out all detractors as traditionalists or purists. Both terms have acquired pessimistic connotations in recent times, as many administrators and broadcasters agree that a new and revitalized World Test Championship, which includes four-day tests, would refresh things.
It is a fact that the attention periods have been shortened. It is also a fact that most of the Tests end within four days or earlier, apart from some of the contests in the creamy layer, between the three or four major nations, which require an additional day to resolve the debate.
This trend (see graph) of the games that end earlier than expected is a problem because it is expensive to conduct a test and the financial returns are not proportional. The organizers basically care about the footsteps in the first two days and the entire financial structure is balanced with eyeballs in shorter formats. In addition, the five-day format is not written in stone. The tests have been matters of three days, four days or timeless in the distant past, creating their own caste system in which the maximum days allowed were reserved for competitions between more deserving teams or for the decisive game of a series.
The extra space in the calendar from such a move, the ICC argues, is intended to free up space for more manoeuvering in the schedule. It is not meant to give more rest to the players, but may end up benefitting Tests too, since a four-day Test can start on a Thursday and end on a Sunday to boost ticket sales and live TV viewership. So goes the theory, to which both the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket Australia (CA) seem to have given a preliminary nod.
However, these plans, and subsequent discussions, have revealed a paradox in the heart of modernity. Cricket test . The format feels unwanted, but basically it still defines the sport. It is a niche brand that celebrates all the possibilities of sport. The tests are, until today, the heartbeat of cricket, despite an international white ball circuit of decades.
Just ask the players. The ebb and flow of a Test match, on a steadily wearing pitch, acquires a life of its own, charming participants into engaging in a duel of mental and physical skill, endurance and strategy which is unique to sport. The so-called ‘dull’ moments are merely part of the larger tapestry. At its best, Cricket test has no peer.
This is important not because everyone has to appreciate Cricket test , but because the format is now stranded at the crossroads, between commercial considerations and the credibility of history. It is vulnerable. Chopping a day off now would expose it to further tinkering if things don’t work out, like making every four-day Test essentially a pink-ball game with a twilight session, since the proposed 98 overs a day will not be feasible in the subcontinent.
Maybe stakeholders should contemplate whether they are considering a change for the right reasons. A closer look will reveal that more Tests are finishing inside four days because there are more results and less draws. Is there an opportunity there? Also, if Tests are too long for millennials, would shaving just a day off help? Alternately, if Tests were free to air, would the ICC want four days of it or all five?