MAK Pataudi lecture February 20, 2013

Gavaskar stresses primacy of Tests

ESPNcricinfo staff

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar has called for balanced pitches to make sure Test cricket remains the prime format of the game. He said the shorter formats might be good for the globalisation of the game and might provide financial security to the players, but Test cricket remained the pinnacle. Gavaskar was speaking at the inaugural annual MAK Pataudi lecture in honour of former India captain, Nawab of Pataudi, also fondly known as Tiger, in Chennai.

"T20 is the one that is helping to globalise the game," Gavaskar said, "taking it to countries, to emerging countries and taking it to countries like America and China and maybe Europe as well. I think that is the format you probably need to look at if you want to globalise the game.

"However, I still believe that Test cricket is the pinnacle of the game. I think it is, as all the players here would readily acknowledge, that is the medium, that is the format by which they will be recognised as good players or great players or just ordinary players.

"The performances in T20, the performances in the 50-over format are well and wonderful but at the end of the day, it's Test cricket … how do you do at Test level is what the players know they will be rated by."

Gavaskar said the onus was on the administrators to retain the primacy of Test cricket. "And that is what the administrators also need to make sure," he said. "Particularly the major countries, the ten Test-playing countries - and out of that I would imagine there are four or five major Test countries - they are the ones who should ensure that Test cricket remains the pinnacle."

The pitches, he said, were crucial. "For that I think you need to have pitches with balance," Gavaskar said, "rather than pitches which are one-sided. Pitches which give the opportunity for the best to be tested against the best. Test cricket is a test not just of skill or technique, but it's a test of your courage and your temperament. And I have always believed that it is temperament that separates the men from the boys. It can only be found out in the cauldron of Test cricket. I would request all the administrators to have a look at it."

Gavaskar also said the administrators shouldn't change the rules and laws too much. "I think - and this is what Tiger said as well - that we often tinker too much with the game. That we keep on changing this and we keep on changing that, which makes it difficult for countries which are not cricket-savvy to understand the game.

"The success of football, of tennis and of golf is because the rules are very simple. It is easy to understand, therefore there is no confusion in the mind of those who have never played the game before and whose primary sport in their country is not any of these sports. I think this is something cricket's administrators need to look at."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nathan on February 21, 2013, 17:26 GMT

    Agree, TEST CRICKET need to have the primacy status. What is really bothering is the standard of TEAMS playing TEST CRICKET at present, barring the top 5-6 teams. May be the aura of the top 6 teams have robbed the luster from teams like WI, N, ZMB who provided a spirited fight to top teams. RULES for CRICKET in all formats of the game is more or less 80-90% common, except for the vagaries of short formats like 50-50, 20-20, where rules have tweaked like Duckworth-Lewis system implementation is still not understood clearly by all. Another debatable or discrepancy has been in the use of DRS (I find the interpretation for LBW decisions as the most ludicrous, 2.5 meters from the point of impact, clipping the stumps or hitting in the middle etc.). If need be DRS should be used and implemented for Bat-pad, Caught behind, run-outs etc.

  • gurinder on February 21, 2013, 14:07 GMT

    test cricket was best but now t20 is future of cricket. and if sponsors and players prefer t20 this tells u where the interest of fans lie. we fans want entertainment in few hours not 5 day snooze fest , nobody has that much time, only older fans love that. we want aggressive cricket as seen in ipl where gayle and azhar mahmood entice public with their power hitting and where bhajji and malinga dominate bat with tight bowling . t20 is future of cricket and thats where money lies.

  • Dummy4 on February 21, 2013, 9:07 GMT

    keep the game plain and simple... i still love to watch the games from 90's when there were no unnecessary stuff

  • Sudhakar on February 21, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    @ SherjilIslam. I too love cricket in any form. In fact if I'm walking by a ground, I would stop by to watch how people play :-). For me, the most disturbing part is how IPL and other countries T20 leagues are cannibalising Test cricket. The incentives for T20s are much higher and this imbalance must be restored. This is where I feel that if greats like Gavaskar say they want to stop commentating for IPL saying it's too much of cricket, it will send a very strong message across the cricketing world and spectators as well. Same stance should be taken by "purists" - the likes of Shastri , Manjrekar, Dravid, Ganguly commentary team.

  • Ravi Kumar on February 21, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    Well said and timed Sunny. This should become an eye opener for BCCI. If the country board does not prioritise test cricket how can we blame the players. It is the duty of the board to make the longer format of the game more challenging, interesting and rewarding to all for it to be a success.

    Look at how SA and AUS play test matches. The number of test matches played by India are also dropping slowly but steadily. IPL seems to be the priority for the money it is bringing in.

  • Sherjil on February 21, 2013, 8:00 GMT

    @ Leggie on (February 20, 2013, 19:51 GMT): You are right but the point here is, if you love test cricket, it doesn't necessarily means you hate T-20 and ODIs.I am a genuine cricket fan and i love all formats of the game and believe me, I am very extremely passionate about test cricket. For me a test series win in Aus and SA will always be rated above T-20 WC win.But having said that, i am not denying the fact that i have extremely enjoyed the T-20 WC 2007 win. The lecture by Mr. Gavaskar to the Cricket administrators is to correct their preferences right(give highest priority to test) rather than to completely abolish T-20 from their domestic competitions.

  • hari on February 21, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    Timely comment by Sunny and at the right occasion. One remembers and adores Tiger for his histrionics in Test Cricket. How many of the T20 or ODI stars you would remember for long. It is the test performances which are remembered for long as they come under adverse conditions. The rules as Sunny has mentioned had to be tinkered with because of ODI and T20 cricket. To make it more entertaining. However, as Sunny suggested make the rules as simple as possible and leave it to the players to fight it out in the middle. The LBW rule, the no-ball rule, the bouncer rule, all have affected the game. However, what ODIs have done to the game is that today we have more results in tests than before. The 90 over rule also helped in forcing results. Thanks to countries like Australia, SA and India the aggression of ODIs has come into Tests and made them more entertaining. It is important to preserve tests and I also believe in test cricket. A real cricketer is known only by his exploits in tests.

  • brij on February 21, 2013, 7:27 GMT

    The present gen. apes people like gavaskar. who says test cricket is dying.test cricket got new lease of life not only in india but in the whole world. and for this credit goes to players like sehwag and viv is a game of bat and ball and the skillful players like sehwag and richards hit even the good the past ,indians would score 33 for 3 till lunch time ,these days the score is often 100 for 1 or 2.these old players mainly played test cricket and had very little to show off in limited over cricket, therefore they chant only test cricket and so do you people.old people like gavaskar played for themselves, otherwise how could he xplain scoring 36 unbeaten runs in 176 balls in a 1975 world cup game against england and thus lost miserably.that time the entire world got up and said that gavaskar should not play any more limited over cricket.however indian board allowed him to play more than 100 matches at the cost of stroke players like surrinder amarnath.

  • Jay on February 21, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    I am a PROUD ODI and T20 fan. I will never love test cricket ever. Speaking of the Indian test team and its history, a lot of people here have commented using their emotions than their common sense. India was NEVER a strong test nation. If you look at their history, India have always been poor travellers overseas. India only began consistently performing away under Sourav Ganguly's captaincy. He brought pro-active leadership skills and aggression to the team and the rest of the players followed it. Once he retired, Dravid managed to continue that tradition for a while. Once Dhoni became captain and the greats began retiring, the house of cards started to collapse. India have returned back to where they belong in test cricket - the state of mediocrity. India will ALWAYS continue to be a very good limited overs team because that's where the skill and passion lies. So I don't understand all the fuss here. Also, blaming the IPL for India's test cricket woes is ridiculous and blasphemy.

  • Dummy4 on February 21, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    I thought Imran khan delivered the inaugural MAK Pataudi lecture last year?