October 31, 2012

Back to the five-day stuff. Yawn

Andrew Hughes
Brad Haddin lifts the CLT20 trophy, Lions v Sydney Sixers, final, CLT20, Johannesburg, October 28, 2012
Brad Haddin was overjoyed to receive a conga, sans skin, for his efforts  © AFP
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The autumn cricket schedule is packed tighter than Rush Limbaugh and Chris Christie in phone booth. It seems like every day there's another pair of polyester-clad captains shuffling out to the middle to throw a bit of currency into the air. And yet, I can't remember the last time I watched a Test match. That's either because there hasn't been one for a while, or because the last time I watched a Test match, I wasn't entirely conscious.

It's not that shorter games of cricket are always edge-of-the sofa affairs. Sunday's Champions League slog-off was the most one-sided public encounter since I challenged Keira Knightley to an arm-wrestling contest*. But even when T20 games are one-sided, they are at least over quickly, like having a loose tooth pulled, whereas a dull Test match can be like week-long root canal surgery with only David Gower's voice for anaesthetic.

The big day was a bust mainly because the Lions of the Highveld could not get over their child-like fascination with hitting the ball straight up in the air. Neil McKenzie fell that way, as did Quinton De Kock, who henceforth shall be known as Half-Kock. He flailed one down to third man and strolled off to the sound of "Let Me Entertain You", apparently oblivious to the irony.

Having demonstrated their virtuosity in the field of vertical batsmanship, the Lions then set themselves the challenge of making Nathan McCullum appear unplayable. When a puzzled looking Sohail Tanvir trudged off at 32 for 5, it was mission accomplished.

Often in life, when you've dug yourself into a hole, it's best to lay down your spade. But T20 is different. If aimless swishing gets you into a mess, then aimless swishing is often the only way out of it, and thanks to some late heaves from Symes, the Lions were able to pretend that their particular hole was in fact a fashionable subterranean hideaway.

Unfortunately the home side were ultimately undone by the new T20 playing regulations requiring the ball to be replaced with a bar of soap for the second innings. First Gulam Bodi struggled to cling on to the slippery blighter, and then a few balls later it slid through the fingers of Dwaine Pretorius, who tried to conceal his identity by hiding behind his hands.

Helped by this Highveld haplessness, the Sixers had no trouble chasing down the target with an Anglo-Australian partnership in which Brad Haddin displayed the typical Australian cricket qualities of fortitude and determination whilst Michael Lumb displayed the typical England player's familiarity with South African conditions.

But while the T20 juggernaut keeps rolling (if it's November, it must be the HRV Cup) Test cricket is quietly disappearing from the menu. Today we learned that Sri Lanka are hoping to "postpone" their Test series against South Africa next year so they can squeeze in a quadrangular series with the West Indies, Jupiter and a Tagg Romney XI. The five-day stuff has become a snoozeworthy chore, like clearing out your garage, visiting your elderly aunt or eating a bowel-friendly bowl of Andy Flower's Bran and Prune Googlies for breakfast.

Still, if you're worried, Test fans, don't be. Captain Sutherland of Cricket Australia's crack Administrative Procrastination Squad has announced that he is, in theory, broadly in favour of the idea of day-night Test cricket. Announcing that you are broadly in favour of the idea of day-night Test cricket has become a sort of magic spell for administrators. If they repeat it often enough, they hope it will save Test cricket, and at the same time save them from having to do anything to save Test cricket.

*In mitigation, I should add that Ms Knightley has deceptively powerful biceps

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Keywords: Future of cricket

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Posted by danoz on (November 5, 2012, 12:00 GMT)

i dont like the idea of night test,i think over 100 years of history should remain.

whilst i dont mind champions league 20/20,i would like to see a all star test series between the southern hemispere and northern hemispere.have a series every 2.5 years so every 5 years 2 series are played 1 in the northern hemispere summer and 2.5 years later played in the southern hemispere summer.

have 3 match series played over 6 days

the teams would be

south hemispere

watson smith amla kallis clarke(c) ponting de villiers(wk) vittori steyn starc phillander

northern hemispere

gayle sewag trott tendulkar pietersen jayawardene sangakarra(wk)(c) anderson ajdmal broad khan

to have 22 of the best players on the field at the same time would be a real treat.

fans would love it,it would have global tv coverage.

10 years ago the south would have been the stronger team,currently the northern hemispere would have the stronger team.

to get 5 wickets or to score a century would be a real challenge

Posted by udendra on (November 1, 2012, 3:58 GMT)

ya, just try saying this to SLC, who likes culling test matches.

Posted by JackieL on (October 31, 2012, 23:52 GMT)

Compared to the worst Test cricket match I ever witnessed at The Kensington Oval where England got 650 something and West Indies got 700 something, this article is much much duller.

Posted by Unmesh on (October 31, 2012, 19:17 GMT)

This one cracked me up: "Today we learned that Sri Lanka are hoping to “postpone” their Test series against South Africa next year so they can squeeze in a quadrangular series with the West Indies, Jupiter and a Tagg Romney XI."

Posted by Ujjwal on (October 31, 2012, 18:29 GMT)

Mind blowing article!! Loved your last line. Holds so true in today's context.

Posted by Ma Riaz on (October 31, 2012, 18:00 GMT)

Good one . Funny, Brief and very well directed. yet another point that we miss these days about cricket is that, fans are less interested in discussing the records players own or have owned. Complete turn around.

Posted by Sover Berry on (October 31, 2012, 15:34 GMT)

Yawn And Here They tours India Where Pitches are Flat Expecting "grand daddy" stuffs from Ian Yawn

Posted by Anonymous on (October 31, 2012, 12:42 GMT)

ohh i cant stop laughing Andrew!!! "Having demonstrated their virtuosity in the field of vertical batsmanship, the Lions then set themselves the challenge of making Nathan McCullum appear unplayable." That was the best. On a serious note, i was very surprised by the lions battingon sunday. True, the sixers were the favorites but the Lions merely whimpered on the big day.

Posted by Anonymous on (October 31, 2012, 12:33 GMT)

Hilarious as usual, Andrew

Posted by Praxis on (October 31, 2012, 6:39 GMT)

"...and at the same time save them from having to do anything to save Test cricket."

Brilliant stuff, Mr. Hughes.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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