April 5, 2010

Steve Waugh in favour of day-night Tests

Cricinfo staff

Steve Waugh, the former Australia captain, has backed day-night Tests and suggested some unorthodox tweaks to revive interest in one-dayers.

"I would have loved to play day-night Test cricket," Waugh said, speaking to Harsha Bhogle on Cricinfo's Opening Up interview show. "I think it is exciting, brings another dimension to the game.

"People want a bit of change, they want that excitement. Why not bring that into Test cricket? We have got it in Twenty20s. Let's get a pink ball in and play a day-night Test if it is possible."

Waugh said the concept needed to be thought through, however, since it wouldn't work everywhere. "Obviously in England it is not really possible because it doesn't get dark till 10 o'clock in summer. Maybe in the subcontinent the dew might make it impossible. So you've got to have common sense around it as well."

Waugh was optimistic about the future of Test cricket. "Quality always survives," he said. "As a cricketer I think you've got to be true to yourself. Why did you take up the game? To fulfill your potential, and you can't do that by playing Twenty20 because you can't bat for a whole day and you can't bowl 30 overs. And as a cricketer I think it wouldn't be that satisfying if I couldn't get out there and technically, mentally and physically challenge myself against the best players in the world over five days."

Waugh said a way to spruce up one-day cricket, especially the middle overs, could be to convert fours to sixes and sixes to nines to get the batsmen to play more shots. "Maybe the bowlers won't be too happy, but on the positive side, they have more chances of getting wickets when the batsmen are attacking them."

He was also in favour of giving the bowlers more incentives to restore balance in the game. As a member of the MCC's World Cricket Committee, he said he had discussed some radical ideas to that end. "We talked about the possibility of getting the seams a bit larger, even increasing the number of seams to eight."

The biggest change, Waugh said, between the time he played and the present was in the physiques of the players. "In our days you looked at the gym, but you never went in there. These days the guys are big, it's all about power and speed in Twenty20 cricket. They are hitting the ball long because they are much stronger."

Waugh, who started out as an allrounder in the mid-80s before maturing into a gritty middle-order batsman and the captain who presided over an Australia side that conquered all in its path, said the present was the best time in the sport's history to be a top-order batsman in Tests, since so many fast bowlers were breaking down and opting out of the format.

Though players are stronger, Waugh said there are more instances of injuries today because diagnosis is available more easily. "You've got a million people around the side. As soon as you get an inkling, you are off to the MRI scan, which will pick up a strain. Fifteen years ago they probably would have played with those strains. But now, as soon as it's diagnosed everyone's got a responsibility, so they say you've got to have 10 days off to recover."

The full interview is here.