The International Cricket Council (ICC) has put fuel into the fire of sustenance of Test cricket, by proposing shortening the Test cricket from the traditional five days to mandatory four days. They are aiming to put this into practice from the next Test Championship cycle from 2023. However, there has been an almost a collective negative reaction from former cricketers and experts on the idea of four-day Tests.
ICC has experimented with this idea as South Africa played Zimbabwe and England took on Ireland in the last 2 years in four-day Tests, but the difference of quality of opponents in both Tests saw the matches ending inside 4 days itself, making a mockery of the said trials. Despite ICC claiming to do so in order to increase the viewership of Test cricket and saving the traditional format of the game; many are seeing this as an idea to sabotage the format itself.
“To me, five days are very special”: Gautam Gambhir
Former India opener Gautam Gambhir vented out his frustrations on ICC trying to mandate the four-day Tests, in his column in The Times of India newspaper. “At the outset, let me say that I think four-day Test matches are a ridiculous idea and should be dropped immediately. It will invite drawn games, will have no place for spinners and will take away the charm of playing on a wearing fifth-day pitch,” he wrote.
ICC has already tried to make day-night Tests popular with even India giving in and playing their maiden pink ball venture against Bangladesh recently at the historic Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Gambhir felt that this is the way forward to market Test cricket to a global audience and bringing in more crowd in the ground. He said the ICC should focus instead on lively pitches and teams should field more champion cricketers, which the game is seriously lacking.
“Some felt said day-night Test cricket is the future, others felt better management of players’ fitness was the need of the hour. I also heard that cricket needs an ‘American marketing hand’ to make it more of a global game. When my turn came, I listed two aspects: lack of champion cricketers and lively pitches,” he added.
Earlier, Indian captain Virat Kohli also opposed the four-day Test idea and mentioned that five-day Tests are special to him and he’d hate to see it getting shorter. The introduction of pink Tests, day-night Tests is a great way to continue keeping our game fresh and moving forward. In respects to changing how many days it’s played, I’m actually against it. I like the way it is,” he was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times ahead of Sri Lanka T20 series.
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