World Cricketers Feel Test Cricket is a Strain on Individuals
When I wrote an article entitled, “It’s Time to say good-bye to Test Cricket,” I received mixed reactions from readers. Many questioned my cricketing knowledge, while others echoed my views. To them, let me say that I am no stranger to the game of cricket. I played cricket at various level as an alrounder. I am an avid lover of the game. I have been watching Test cricket right from my childhood and I still hold the game very close to my heart.
Players like Saurav Ganguli, Peterson and others have opined that the Test cricket format need to be preserved by playing a lesser number of games. It clearly shows the mind the of the cricketers. They too have written it off in their minds. It is tiring and has become boring now-a-days. Andrew Flintoff announced his retirement from Test Cricket after the Ashes series where he was the star performer but retained his interest in ODI and IPL. It is likely that many top players would follow suit in the near future as their interest lies not in Test criket but in ODIs and T20s. It would be no wonder if players like Tendulkar, Shewag and others would also make such an announcement in future. For Tendulkar, nothing is left to be achieved. He has set the highest record making it impossible for others to achieve. He must now gracefully retire from Test Cricket and concentrate on ODIs, where he will be more at ease.
I just watched the final day of the match between Pakistan and Srilanka. Srilanka needed some 300 runs to win in 90 overs, while Pakistan needed just seven wickets to salvage their pride after losing two test matches. I just watched it not out of enthusiasm but to find out whether there was any enthusiasm left in either team to win. But at the end, both played out to a tame draw, confirming my suspicion.
The fact is that Srilanka had 90 overs to score just 300 runs at the rate of around 3.3 runs per over. This could have easily been achieved in an ODI match. But the same urgency and enthusiasm as shown in the ODIs or T20 was lacking because there was no pride or prestige involved for winning the match for Srilankans, for they had already won two test matches against the same team. For Pakistan, the killer instinct was clearly missing, for they were looking tired, particularly the fast bowlers. None of the strike bowlers came good against the determined Sangakara, Samweerana and Mathews. That Pakistan could only get one wicket for the whole day, said it all. Finally, before the mandatory 15 overs could start, both teams agreed to a draw.
Take the case of India-Pakistan encounters in the 1970s. The Test matches were played like a one day game and the last mandatory overs brought a thrill to the game. The cricket stadia all over the country were jampacked for all the days. Can you find the same enthusiasm and vigour today? It is missing for the obvious reason.
If it were to be an India-Pakistan contest, it would have been a different story. What I am trying to say here is, since Test matches are played with such leisure, with no stake involved, particularly when the team has already won two matches, it would end in such a tame draw.
That is why many players today feel that Test cricket should stay but with lesser games played. In future, the visiting team should play one Test match and many ODIs and T20s. Three or five Test match series would definetely kill the game and would be taxing on the players. Test cricket enthusiasts, kindly excuse, this is the bare truth of the game. Wake up to the reality and accept the changes to the game as it comes as ODI and T20 alone would continue to draw larger crowds than Test Cricket. It is for sure.
The ICC should seriously consider the issue of preserving the Test cricket format by asking the cricket-playing nations to adapt to the changing situation and play lesser numbers of games and encourage more ODIs and T20 if they are keen to retain spectators’ lasting interest in the game. Jai Hind.