England v West Indies, 2nd npower Test, Durham May 13, 2009

Richards and Sobers defend primacy of Test cricket


Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Vivian Richards have defended the primacy of Test cricket in the wake of the withering critique launched by Chris Gayle. Richards said Gayle's comments regarding the death of Test cricket were tantamount to a "total betrayal of the game that raised him" and hoped they were not reflective of the West Indian captain's true feelings.

In an interview with The Guardian on Wednesday, Gayle suggested he would not be saddened if Test cricket were to perish at the hands of the Twenty20 format. The West Indian skipper softened his stance slightly in a pre-Test press conference at Chester-le-Street, suggesting his comments were made in reference to his own Test career, which he said was nearing an end.

Richards, though, was not convinced Gayle's statements were truly indicative of his feelings towards Test cricket "based on what he has said before." Still, the former West Indian captain was critical of his latter-day counterpart's statements on the eve of the second Test against England.

"I think individuals should be a little careful with some of the things they say," Richards told Cricinfo. "I believe Chris still loves Test match cricket, and maybe he wouldn't have made these comments if he had been thinking clearly. I honestly feel that this is not what he genuinely believes, and if it is, it is a total betrayal of the game that raised him.

"Everyone has their opinion and Chris has expressed his. I believe that Test cricket is the pinnacle. He must remember that he made the West Indies team not because he was a good Twenty20 player, but because of his ability as a Test cricketer. He seems to have forgotten that the one-day games came out of Test cricket, and it was Test cricket which brought him to the world's attention."

Sobers, perhaps the greatest allrounder the game has known, said he could not relate to the cash-versus-country considerations faced by many of cricket's modern elite, but hoped Test cricket would remain the game's most revered format in the years to come.

"As far as I am concerned, Test cricket is number one," Sobers told Cricinfo. "I have not been in this position. If I was in that situation, I would try to combine both forms of the game of cricket. And if I could not do that, then I would feel that Test cricket would remain the top priority. It would not be an easy decision to make. But I was never in a position like Chris Gayle where I had to choose between something like the IPL and international cricket. I suppose he will make the decision he feels is best for him."

Richards, meanwhile, reiterated the concerns of Clive Lloyd, the former West Indian captain and current chairman of the ICC's cricket committee, regarding Gayle's decision to extend his stint in the IPL and arrive in England just two days before the Lord's Test.

"Chris coming over two days before the Test was obviously his choice, but I was a little bit worried by it," he said. "You need more preparation time than that. That is a long flight and you need time to acclimatise and prepare. It's pretty tough to go all that way and expect to be OK to play straight away."

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sisnaraine on May 20, 2009, 15:54 GMT

    Skipper Gale (WI) is saying this about five days"Test" because he is not a "five days cricketer". He is a natural "Slugger of the ball" as in Base Ball" (USA). In Five Days Cricket where you have a field setting for him, especially in the slip and keeping the ball going to the slip will offends him. 20/20 and one day cricket is more his likeness where the "fielders" are limited is his "soup".

    In five days cricket you could see the ability of a "Real Cricketer".


  • alanna on May 18, 2009, 13:00 GMT

    as a true cricket lover i will like to see test cricket stay around for a long time.i grew up listening to test cricket with my older brothers and i grew to love it but i also think that everyone has the right to their opinions and if that is the way chris feels then i take my hat off to him for being honest.only you as an individual can know what is best for you and what makes you happy

  • Sutanu on May 15, 2009, 5:57 GMT

    People need to face reality. test cricket is dying and hopefully it will be dead soon. People don't have patience for it nowadays. In the old days when there might not have been anything else to do, people would sit and watch 1 game that could take up to 5 days and not provide a result. Now, most people have plenty of other options to entertain themselves.

    Secondly, why is everyone criticizing Gayle? He only said what is sensible. If someone came to me and told me that instead of working hard for 5 days a week, I could work for a few hours for a couple days and make a lot more money and be exposed to a lot more fans, I would absolutely take that and so would everyone else. Its hypocritical to criticize Gayle here.

    Hopefully before too long this boring format will be dead and make way for the formats that people and players alike actually enjoy.

  • Zac on May 15, 2009, 2:58 GMT

    It's a storm in a teacup. People are entitled to their opinions and, looking closely at his comments, it does appear as though he was referring to himself rather than the game in general.

    Frankly though, there are enough people interested in each of the different forms of the game to guarantee success for at least another generation. I'm a traditionalist - is there anything better than a five-day match which still has all three results as an option in the final hour of the final session? And I accept that to get good games, you need to endure bad ones. But that's the same in all forms: a team winning an ODI by 170 runs, or 20/20 matches won by nine wickets are just as disappointing.

    Let everyone enjoy the forms they love - no-one is forcing anyone to watch anything they don't want to.

  • Anmol on May 14, 2009, 21:35 GMT

    Frankly speaking, i dont have any problem with what Gayle told, neither should one have any. He, besides being a captain, is also a human being and he should have his ways of seeing things. But still being the captain he should have limited the length of his tongue and he should have a control on whatever he said. But i thìnk those as idiots who tell that Gayle should step down or rather criticise him. They should let him concentrate on his game and captaincy. And players and captains like him are not born everyday and he is the one who leads from the front and his leadership is something the struggling windies need to get back to what they were in the 70s and 80s. This is my view

    Anmol Mohta India

  • Jas on May 14, 2009, 21:08 GMT

    Losing matches repetitively will drag anyone down & gayle isnt different from anyone else. The WI team of today isnt what it was during its glory days so people should understand how gayle feels. Test cricket wont die but will be decreased to probably 3 matches max per series later on.

  • Loner on May 14, 2009, 18:58 GMT

    Test Matches are here to stay and it's something we all should understand coz they're the ultimate test for any team

  • John on May 14, 2009, 18:23 GMT

    Test cricket is real cricket. It's the format loyal cricket supporters want to see most. The 20/20 bubble has burst and, in fact, it is that form of the game that will suffer from decline. 20/20 lacks the loyal hardcore base of support that any sport needs. The casual fans who prefer 20/20 will move onto something else once the novelty has worn off (which it already has, to a large extent).

  • Muhammad on May 14, 2009, 17:31 GMT

    Cricket wont survive if club and first class cricket continue to weaken due to the overcrowded International cricket calendar. Surely the prospect of youngsters earning lucrative contracts via a memdium like the IPL or similar will entice more youngsters into the game. The idea of having a potentially lucrative career at non international level surely gives cricket a chance of widening its talent net and pool of players. Most domestic cricket used to be semi-professional in the past(apart from England)and cricketers used to work full time jobs to make ends meet.No employer will allow this luxury anymore meaning that very few cricketers will make a meaningful living from the game in the long term. The frenetic pace of modern lifestyles,entertainment choice,competing sports,etc has damaged West Indies cricket-can cricket afford other major powers to similarly recede?

  • Robert on May 14, 2009, 16:51 GMT

    The people who are posting here that test cricket should end really do not understand the game or clearly don't play it. Lets imagine Test cricket was to stop being played tomorrow. What kid born today would want grow up to be a bowler? This alone would ruin cricket. As I have said before in this post if Test cricket is apparently dying according to several posts, how is it I can't purchase a ticket to the upcoming Ashes Test series but I can purchase tickets to any World T20 game which is being played before the Ashes. There is room for all three styles of the game and all it takes is some common sense from the ICC etc. to sort out an itinerary for the entire year.

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