Bradman Oration November 19, 2009

Greg Chappell fears for Test cricket's future


Greg Chappell has delivered a blunt message to cricket's administrators: Test cricket is under threat from Twenty20 and something must be done to save the traditional form of the game. Chappell believes the situation is so severe that there could come a time when only four or five nations play Test cricket, with the weaker countries focusing purely on 20- and 50-over games.

The former Australia captain and India coach was in Melbourne on Thursday to deliver the annual Bradman Oration on the state of the game and he painted a worrying picture for the five-day format. He said while iconic tours like the Ashes retained their importance, many other series had lost relevance and administrators should focus on the quality of cricket played, rather than the quantity.

"I'm of the belief that we can support the three formats but obviously we have to give a very long and hard think about how best they work together," Chappell said. "I have a belief that we need to make each series, whether it's 20-, 50-over or a Test match series, a lot more relevant.

"I think the format that is under most pressure with 20-over cricket coming in is Test cricket. It has been struggling for some time. Economically, some countries find it very difficult to be competitive and therefore it affects economically the viability of Test series between some countries.

"I have a feeling that Test cricket is going to reduce in size rather than grow in size. I can see the time when perhaps there will only be four or five major countries playing Test match cricket. It's another reason why I think 50-over cricket needs to be supported and given a rethink because 50-over cricket could well become the Test cricket of the future for a lot of cricket playing countries.

"There are only probably four or five countries that have the critical mass and have the infrastructure that will allow them to produce competitive Test match teams on a regular basis. That is a problem. That's been exacerbated by the success of 20-over cricket."

"I can see the time when perhaps there will only be four or five major countries playing Test match cricket"
Greg Chappell

The prospect of separate divisions in Test cricket, which might help ensure matches are closely fought, was not an idea that sat well with Chappell. However, he believed that the introduction of day-night Tests, which appears to be a certainty when a suitable ball is developed, could help regenerate interest in the five-day format.

"If you want people to come, then obviously you have to fit into their lives, not hope that they will fit into the life of cricket," Chappell said. "I have no doubt that in the not too distant future we will see Test cricket played under lights and played at night time when it's easier for people to come."

Chappell's comments have come at a time when the ICC is considering ways to keep the public interested in Test cricket. An MCC survey recently found that only 7% of cricket followers in India regarded Test cricket as their preferred form of the game, while ticket sales for Australia's SCG and MCG Tests against Pakistan this summer are 20% down on the Tests at the same venue last season.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jack on November 22, 2009, 6:20 GMT

    A two-tiered test cricket system has to be looked at. There are only 8 nations capapble of producing competitive test match sides Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies. The other countries not quite up to scratch including Zimbabwe and Bangladesh should play in a structured sub-test level competition.They will get better at playing cricket by playing against each other and against B-Sides from some of the top nations like Australia, England and India. The format would be 3 or 4-day games like Shield crciket in Australia. If countries like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe perform well over a number of years and have the infastructure to support continued growth then i would give them temporary test status and review them after a couple of years competing with the big boys. The days of Matthew Hayden making 380 gainst Bangladeshi bowlers and Murali taking hundreds of wickets against hapless batsmen should be brought to a swift end.

  • Michael on November 21, 2009, 23:24 GMT

    I cannot for the life of me imagine how just a diet of 20/20's is going to satisfy any professional cricketer. It ain't gonna satisfy too many fans either(real ones that is). Hell 20/20 wouldn't satisfy most weekend players. As for ODI's the formulaic nature of them makes it hard to imagine them being the main course. There may be something wrong with Tests or rather pitches, but although the numbers are down in some countries, I bet the TV's and radios are on everywhere. Money is important,yes, but it is not the only thing in life.The unfolding nature of the plot of a Test match makes it irresistable as a good novel, and even the now vilified Ahmedabad Test was only a draw for certain in the last 2 sessions. In any case I would take a punt on India being involved in more draws in the last 20 years than most other sides. Time not to throw in the towel over Tests I believe, as they will probably outlast 20/20 by a long way; time merely to consider how to make more amusing pitches.

  • lucy on November 20, 2009, 21:47 GMT

    "Chappell believes the situation is so severe that there could come a time when only four or five nations play Test cricket, with the weaker countries focusing purely on 20- and 50-over games."

    Hellooooo... why is this a problem? That sounds like the Promised Land to me. Can we hurry up and get there, please?

  • Abdullah on November 20, 2009, 18:21 GMT

    No, it's not T20 cricket that will kill test cricket but the likes of pitches in India and Pakistan will. The bowlers just go with the motion, runs are piled and you know it will end in dull draw even before the start of 5th day. You can't disagree cricket is boring then. The fun is when the bowlers are asking questions, batsmen's temperament is tested. Test cricket should be played on green, bouncy, turning, I mean bowling pitches. Result should be there.

  • Vikas on November 20, 2009, 17:28 GMT

    In reality it is BCCI's record breaking television deals that is killing Test cricket.They have signed televison deals which pay them for the number of days of cricket played.So BCCI wants cricket to be played for the whole 5 days.Anything less than 5 days will dent their earnings.Hence the idea behind DEAD PITCHES and 7 centuries and a dull draw behind the latest Indo-Sri Lanka Test match.Hats of to Australia ,South Africa and Sri Lanka which still see a duty towards Test cricket and realize that it still is the foundation of cricket.

  • Vikas on November 20, 2009, 16:29 GMT

    It is heartening to know that another cricketing great has realized the immediate danger to Test cricket.After Indias Gundappa Viswanath,Greg has aired his fears too.Cricket's heart India has seen a dangerous decline in its Test schedule having played only 4 Tests this calendar year.This is the result of corporates being given a free run.Media cos like cricinfo too has a duty towards preserving Test cricket by regularly highlighting pitfalls of modernisation of the game.Making day night Test matches and allowing children free acess to the grounds are some good options to preserving Test cricket

  • Bheem on November 20, 2009, 12:23 GMT

    As @Hassan pointed out, if Test Cricket could survive when only 2 nations played (and that too when they went on for 6-7 days), then surely the future of Test cricket isn't as bleak as some English and Aussie commentators describe. Being Indian, I can tell you that though ground attendance at Tests is poor, millions of people watch on TV...and even keep checking the score (on Cricinfo) from work. I think the 2 most vulnerable regions are the WI and NZ...but even there I would bet that if their authorities properly utilize the cash flows thrown up by T20 and ODIs, they can very much keep First Class and Test Cricket in decent shape.

  • as on November 20, 2009, 10:19 GMT

    there is nothing can save cricket accept pick some boring stuff out of it ..when they talk that test cricket is the game of temprament .what kind of temprament is this .subcontinet pitches are good for temprament .what the jolk .made top green pitches for test .where bowler also can prove some thing .and batsman can say proudly i made a century .you can see the score of last ind vs srilanka .answer is all over it .put some new rules . like every team have to400 runs in one day of test match ..if some team cant to do this givethe teme some minus the end if match is draw ..give the plus point team win

  • Terry on November 20, 2009, 7:07 GMT

    I think Day-Night cricket could be good for the sport. However in addition to a multi-tier structure, I think test cricket needs to be session by session instead of innings by innings. Thus as now each team gets two 10 wicket innings, but each team gets time batting and bowling each day (team with the least runs in game bats next session). Make a day 25,25,20,20 overs (instead of three 30's) where each session the other team continues batting from where they left off, with first 50 overs prior to 6pm and last 40 overs after 6pm (eg: 2pm-9:30pm). This would have the following advantages: (1) Each team gets even go at wicket each day. (2) One-sided matches end quicker (eg: A 180 & 120, B 3/301 compared to A 180, B 5/450 stumps Day 2). (3) Closer matches easier to see (eg: A 4/270, B 5/303 compared to A 450, B 1/100 at stumps Day 2). (4) Less player injuries (each team field 1/2 day & bat 1/2 day). (5) Day&Night balls can be used (6) Toss doesnt win match (like 5th test Aust vs Eng 2009).

  • Ambrose on November 20, 2009, 6:54 GMT

    When you have a test match like the one occuring in India right now(India vs. Sri lanka) it's easy to see how the interest in test cricket can diminish. I mean what's the point of all these massive scores?I personally think that the first innings should be limited to 100 overs. Whats the point of scoring 7 hundred and change runs. Ridiculous! If the pitch is flat then score you runs in these 100 overs and get a lead.I would bet my house, two cars and swimming pool that this match would end in a draw. If we want to break world records then we should do it in the second innings winning matches.

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