Future of Cricket Hinges on T20 Shorter Form.
Mathew Hayden, known for his blistering knocks in any form of cricket, suggested banishing One Day Internationals as they are losing spectator interest all over the world, because it takes 100 overs to decide the match. He suggested it may give way to more T20 matches, the instant cricket that attracts more spectators and garners more money.
Former India Captain Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi echoed this suggestion. He said Test cricket is fast fading and losing spectator interest. There are very few spectators that watch the lethargic five day Test match. IPL may have hastened its demise.
Now the question arises how to preserve the longer format of the game i.e., Test Cricket. If ICC is serious to preserve Test cricket, one Test match, one ODI per series, like the one ODI or T20 we used to have and more T20 matches could be the best option. If this is adhered to all formats of the game would be kept alive.
I believe it is futile to organise three day matches or five day matches in the future. Look at the domestic cricket played in India or elsewhere in England or Australia, all the stands are empty with few spectators watching the three day game. After all, these matches are played to entertain the crowd and when there are none in the stand to watch, what is the game being played for? Is it for records?
The days of Test cricket may be over, if not restricted to one Test per series. Watch any Test series all over the world, including the Ashes series either in Australia or England, and you see the spectators are few and many stands are almost empty. If the game fails to attract spectators, then it has no value. ICC and other Cricket Boards should seriously consider this issue and reformat the game at the earliest.
The protagonists of Test cricket may argue that Test cricket is a test of character of players, forgetting it is also burdensome, tiresome and likely to wear out players causing injuries. Batsmen are in no hurry to score runs, while the bowlers toil hard for the whole day. Test cricket has become a boring game.
When Test cricket was played in the good old days, they were few and once in a year or two. Moreover there were no ODIs played except in the 70s when the Prudential 60 over World Cup matches were played once in four years. This triggered the advent of official ODIs along with Test series matches. To begin with one ODI per series. But then the number of ODIs increased following the increase of spectator interest in the game.
The T20 IPL matches have changed the entire atmosphere and the interest of the spectators doubled in the game. It has almost addicted one and all in the family. I saw people rushing home to watch matches when IPL I and II were played. That was the interest the game generated among the people. They wanted to see a 36-ball century, rather than wait for three days to see a 300-ball century in a Test match.
These are the days of the shorter form of the game. That is why even the Champions Trophy, T20 World Cup and future IPL matches are watched with interest by millions all over the world. Mathew Hayden was right when he suggested even scrapping of ODI matches giving way to more T20 matches. Because even ODI with 100 overs has come to be regarded as longer and boring.
I hope ICC and other Cricket bodies will seriously consider the suggestion by Mathew Hayden and Pataudi, giving more importance to the shorter form of the game to preserve it for the future.
I think Test cricket and ODIs should be rare and limited to one per series. Jai Hind.