June 25, 2009

Tradition v survival

Don't double up in horror: day-night Tests, coloured clothing and the white ball could be the saviours of the first-class game
36

Bound as we are by accepted wisdoms, enforced tastes and ritualised snobbery, there are certain beliefs that any self-respecting cricket lover of a certain vintage, if they value their street credo, is expected to keep unexpressed. That Virender Sehwag is a finer opener than Sunil Gavaskar. That ball-tampering is neither evil nor cheating. That the limited-overs format has the aesthetic edge on its first-class ancestor.

Somewhat perversely, though, nothing is likelier to incite scorn and invective than the notion that Test cricket could be played in coloured kit. Yet that, it strikes this observer, could very well be the answer - or at least one of the most helpful answers - to the game's most ticklish and pressing problem: namely, how to ensure the survival of the Test match in the Twenty20 era. Just because an Ashes series of captivating and regenerative possibilities is a fortnight away, it should not blind us to the patient's overall health, nor excuse any further prevarication.

In truth, even those of us who would defend the increasingly unhip five-day form to the death have felt a wee bit wobbly of late. True, both series between Australia and South Africa supplied prime exhibits for the defence, but the recent Wisden Trophy in the Caribbean, played as it was on life-free pitches that defied the principle of an even contest between bat and ball, was far closer to the norm. And so long as broadcasters, sponsors and advertisers exert an influence over lily-livered home boards, and hence groundsmen (for all their forgiveable protestations of independence and innocence), it is hard to envisage the situation undergoing any significant improvement in global terms. The only consolation - of sorts - is that a generation of players is emerging to whom a six-hour century will be as alien as an inch-thick bat.

Thus far, fortunately, suggestions that Tests be turned into elongated limited-overs contests (c. Mr J Dalmiya) appear to have fallen on deaf ears and stony ground (though renewed calls must be expected). Nor, happily, has the desirability of reverting to three- or four-day affairs been strenuously aired (though it is difficult to imagine that it won't happen soon). Ever since Ian Chappell began pushing for it a couple of decades ago, a World Test Championship has loomed as an enticing if hugely and ludicrously belated innovation, one that would surely capture and perhaps even imprison hearts and imaginations for generations to come. But for reasons best known to themselves, the administrators, besotted with their precious Future Tours Program, seem stubbornly unwilling to consider it with the gravity it warrants.

Twenty20 itself could help. Giving each side two innings would offer a natural stepping-stone to the game's highest means of expression for the ever-expanding ranks of those to whom the notion of a first-innings lead, let alone the follow-on, is currently about as meaningful as Esperanto. Unfortunately this is a concept that has yet to strike any chords where it matters, though its time, one trusts, may come.

INSTEAD THE ONLY PROPOSAL that appears to be meriting serious discussion is day-night Tests, the inception of which would have the not inconsiderable virtue of bringing matches within the reach of those who are obliged to go to school or work for a living. As things stand, this remains the only branch of the international game - and the only remotely popular spectator sport for that matter - not to bite this particular bullet.

At last month's ICC Cricket Committee Meeting, the so-called "primacy" of the five-day game was discussed at length (what is it about the incessant parroting of that word that makes you doubt its spouters' conviction?). That the best idea, a World Championship, does not appear to have rated so much as a syllable was profoundly regrettable, but, sadly, entirely predictable. The will is simply not there. No, the sole route proffered as a means of rekindling interest was floodlit Tests.

"The committee recognised the need to promote Test cricket and was happy for talks on this matter to advance," said Haroon Lorgat, the ICC's chief executive. "However, before it gave the concept the green light it agreed that several aspects needed to be firmed up first. This included identifying an appropriate colour ball for use in such matches and trialling the game at first-class level beforehand. The committee also wanted evidence that day-night cricket was what cricket's stakeholders wanted because there would be no point in staging such matches if that was not the case."

The drama and the crowds generated by the World Twenty20 have supplied another reminder of the pickle in which Test cricket now finds itself. In the battle between tradition and survival, between nostalgia and progress, there should only be one winner

The idea that those "stakeholders" (another dread word that smacks of the political jargon the English Labour Party has been spouting for the past dozen years) would not want to stage such matches seems daft in the extreme. Given the potential impact on attendances, why on earth wouldn't they want to? Which brings us to the chief and only worthy sticking point: the colour of the ball. Orange and pink have been mooted, the latter by MCC with no little zest and enthusiasm, but both alternatives, as yet unroad-tested, ignore the compelling claims of a far more obvious solution: a white ball.

All that's needed is a leap of the imagination, a surrender to logic and a sheathing of prejudice. A white ball and white kit won't mix, so something will have to give. Does anyone in possession of an open mind really object to coloured togs and pads anymore? Does anybody even use the pejorative expression "pyjama parties" any longer? I certainly can't remember the last time I saw it in print. Tennis has hardly suffered in popularity since it stopped insisting on all-white garb. What was once revolutionary, not to say objectionable to many, is now the norm, and accepted as such, even by arch-traditionalists, albeit only in the abbreviated formats. Would it be that unthinkable to take that final leap and bring Tests into line? Take it, and the white ball eliminates the question and becomes the solution.

I CAN HEAR THE SHRIEKS OF DISMAY. White sweaters, shirts and flannels - cream, actually - set our beloved obsession apart from all the competitive arts bar bowls, maintaining links with a long, proud and distinguished past and investing it with a purity and non-razzmatazz that serve as an antidote to rampant commercialism and technicolour showiness. Besides, how can "proper" cricket be "proper" cricket without those red-stained thighs?

Ten years ago, I readily confess, I would have recoiled at the proposition I have just advanced, but the joy, the drama, the exhilaration and the crowds generated by the World Twenty20 have supplied another, arguably needless, reminder of the pickle in which Test cricket now finds itself. In the battle between tradition and survival, between nostalgia and progress, there should only be, can only be, one winner.

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • RohanMarkJay on June 27, 2009, 23:28 GMT

    Personally, there shouldn't be any tampering with Test Cricket. Test Cricket has been under scrutiny in one shape or another since the early 1960s. That is why one day cricket was invented. And also why 20/20 cricket has been introduced for our fast paced world. Let the limited formats pay the financial bills for Test Cricket. BUT...Test Cricket must go on as it has done since 1900. Becuase traditional Test Cricket is the ultimate test of a Cricketer's skill as a Cricketer. I guess that is why they call it test cricket it probably is the Ultimate Test of a sportsman. Also in my opinion there are few things better in all sport than a closely fought Test Series. Even though numbers for Test Cricket have been declining you have to remember there are still millions of Cricket fans who enjoy test cricket. 20/20 may rope in new fans to cricket who otherwise wouldn't. Who knows maybe some of these 20/20 Cricket fans may eventually warm to the delights of Test Cricket. We can only hope.

  • Sriram.Dayanand on June 27, 2009, 14:36 GMT

    Frankly, I am at a complete loss to see how coloured clothing is in any way beneficial to Test cricket ? That is going to bring in crowds ? And no cheerleaders are needed too? What is it with the obsession of mucking around with the way the sport itself is played as a panacea to all of its ills? I can't fathom the relentless talk that cricket endures about it and other aggrandizements like globalization, Olympics, etc. instead of looking at all the root problems which are causing people to tune out and lose interest.

  • kingofspain on June 26, 2009, 15:05 GMT

    I've got an idea for to increase the popularity of tests. Instead of an oval field, we'll use a rectangular one. Instead of hitting the ball with bats, players use their feet and heads. And instead of trying to score runs, they'll try to kick the ball into a goal. That sounds like it would be pretty popular.

    Or we could just leave tests the way they are because millions of supporters like it that way. And fyi, bangalorekid, I'd rather watch the skill of Rahul Dravid in his pomp all day than the "swing hard in case I hit it" slogging of Sehwag or Afridi. There's more to tests than scoring runs quickly.

  • vidyerthy on June 26, 2009, 13:29 GMT

    Rob, I am sorry to say you are wrong! Wrong! Wrong!! Please leave Test cricket alone. The ideas that you have put forward can not work and will not work. Day night test matches are utterly ridiculous! Many readers have pointed out why they won't work. You forget that people who love cricket want to preserve this form of the game as it is. I get a shiver down my spine when these crazy suggestions are put forward.

    I agree that Test Cricket in sub continent is bit of a worry. But it is a matter of education and producing sporting pitches. I certainly do not agree with you that draws are dull, not all draws anyway... what we want is an even contest between bat and ball... only the very best should survive in this format of the game.

    Twenty20 is entertaining but it's not Cricket - not the way I was brought to learn the game. Skilful, certainly but not my type of Cricket.

  • gmtx725 on June 26, 2009, 11:44 GMT

    I think there are a range of improvements to be made in test cricket:

    1. Day/Night tests: make everyone play in black kits and use the white ball. 2. Test Championship: Each team plays at least 6 series against other teams over two years, with each team retaining one icon series (eg the ashes) and rotating between other teams from season to season 3. Better regulation of pitches: The ICC should fine countries that produce pitches which yield a high batting average over the course of a year. How high should vary between country to country, obviously Australia is a better country to bat in than New Zealand so the limit should be higher there so as not to destroy each countries unique conditions. 4. Reserve Days for tests: If an entire day or a certain number of overs are washed out then play can continue on to the reserve day. 5. Floodlights to eliminate bad light: Remove this blight on the game by simply using the floodlights that are already there.

  • AdityaMookerjee on June 26, 2009, 11:01 GMT

    The joys which T20 cricket generate, have less to do with the game, and more to do with the self gratification felt by the spectator sitting through the game. The white ball is unsuitable for Test cricket, because it will not last the ninety overs needed for the ball change. I don't feel that T20 cricket has contributed to the spectators positive feelings for cricket. The spectator is more interested in being self interested. I believe, the malaise which was Test cricket in the past, was due to the approach of the test cricketers, as was proved, when Australia made the game positive and exciting by playing the game following a certain creed.

  • mahida on June 26, 2009, 9:26 GMT

    Test cricket must be preserved in its purest form. No need to implement such madly things. Test cricket lovers will like to watch test cricket in only this present form far upto the eternity.

  • knightym06 on June 26, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    there missing the easiest thing here, start test matches earlier in a day, a good 1/2 hours of playing time are wasted a day. matches should start at like 9:30 to give extra playing time which would a) improve chances of a result b) reduce the effect of time lost to weather. test grounds should also have floodlights to reduce time lost to bad light. pitches at test grounds should be more strictly monitered as well, we had a winter of rubbish pitches in the windies and nohing happend, pitches should be ranked and if they fall below a certain standard they should be given 1 game to turn it around otherwise they should loose there tests to another ground. i feel this would vastly improve the game and make tests more interesting because we will get more results

  • Harvey on June 26, 2009, 8:16 GMT

    Cricket is a sport best played in daylight. The idea of day/night Test matches (where you have issues such as dew to contend with) is nothing but a gimmick. I really don't see how it would make the game more exciting or (in England at least) increase attendances. Is there honestly a single person who turns up to ODI's or T20 because the players are wearing garishly coloured clothing? Test matches in England (when played at a sensible time of year) sell out anyway. In fact, have a look on e-bay or Seatwave and see how many "unhip" Test cricket fans seem to be prepared to part with hundreds of pounds just to watch a day of Test cricket at Lord's this summer. Whilst Day/Night matches might make it easier for people who live very locally to show up after work (if they don't mind missing the first session of play), they will exclude people who live any distance from the ground and rely on public transport to get home. And as for the frigid night time temperatures we would have to endure...

  • TheHooker on June 26, 2009, 7:15 GMT

    Test cricket will be viable should it be entertaining. I tend to agree with the four game principle, if only to stop greedy administrators desperately trying to eke out every last minute of a Test. Grounds should be struck off should they fail to produce result pitches, ruthlessly. I, personally, am sick of seeing mediocre batsmen average nearly 50, tailenders regularly smacking 50s, scores of 500 plus. Only the very best should be able to get Test centuries, only the very best should be able to average 50 over a career, and only the very best should be able to score a century on the final day of a Test match on an uneven, spiteful pitch. But as a ruling body, I don't have much faith in the ICC. Its location and its self-serving, self-fulfilling nature appall me.

  • RohanMarkJay on June 27, 2009, 23:28 GMT

    Personally, there shouldn't be any tampering with Test Cricket. Test Cricket has been under scrutiny in one shape or another since the early 1960s. That is why one day cricket was invented. And also why 20/20 cricket has been introduced for our fast paced world. Let the limited formats pay the financial bills for Test Cricket. BUT...Test Cricket must go on as it has done since 1900. Becuase traditional Test Cricket is the ultimate test of a Cricketer's skill as a Cricketer. I guess that is why they call it test cricket it probably is the Ultimate Test of a sportsman. Also in my opinion there are few things better in all sport than a closely fought Test Series. Even though numbers for Test Cricket have been declining you have to remember there are still millions of Cricket fans who enjoy test cricket. 20/20 may rope in new fans to cricket who otherwise wouldn't. Who knows maybe some of these 20/20 Cricket fans may eventually warm to the delights of Test Cricket. We can only hope.

  • Sriram.Dayanand on June 27, 2009, 14:36 GMT

    Frankly, I am at a complete loss to see how coloured clothing is in any way beneficial to Test cricket ? That is going to bring in crowds ? And no cheerleaders are needed too? What is it with the obsession of mucking around with the way the sport itself is played as a panacea to all of its ills? I can't fathom the relentless talk that cricket endures about it and other aggrandizements like globalization, Olympics, etc. instead of looking at all the root problems which are causing people to tune out and lose interest.

  • kingofspain on June 26, 2009, 15:05 GMT

    I've got an idea for to increase the popularity of tests. Instead of an oval field, we'll use a rectangular one. Instead of hitting the ball with bats, players use their feet and heads. And instead of trying to score runs, they'll try to kick the ball into a goal. That sounds like it would be pretty popular.

    Or we could just leave tests the way they are because millions of supporters like it that way. And fyi, bangalorekid, I'd rather watch the skill of Rahul Dravid in his pomp all day than the "swing hard in case I hit it" slogging of Sehwag or Afridi. There's more to tests than scoring runs quickly.

  • vidyerthy on June 26, 2009, 13:29 GMT

    Rob, I am sorry to say you are wrong! Wrong! Wrong!! Please leave Test cricket alone. The ideas that you have put forward can not work and will not work. Day night test matches are utterly ridiculous! Many readers have pointed out why they won't work. You forget that people who love cricket want to preserve this form of the game as it is. I get a shiver down my spine when these crazy suggestions are put forward.

    I agree that Test Cricket in sub continent is bit of a worry. But it is a matter of education and producing sporting pitches. I certainly do not agree with you that draws are dull, not all draws anyway... what we want is an even contest between bat and ball... only the very best should survive in this format of the game.

    Twenty20 is entertaining but it's not Cricket - not the way I was brought to learn the game. Skilful, certainly but not my type of Cricket.

  • gmtx725 on June 26, 2009, 11:44 GMT

    I think there are a range of improvements to be made in test cricket:

    1. Day/Night tests: make everyone play in black kits and use the white ball. 2. Test Championship: Each team plays at least 6 series against other teams over two years, with each team retaining one icon series (eg the ashes) and rotating between other teams from season to season 3. Better regulation of pitches: The ICC should fine countries that produce pitches which yield a high batting average over the course of a year. How high should vary between country to country, obviously Australia is a better country to bat in than New Zealand so the limit should be higher there so as not to destroy each countries unique conditions. 4. Reserve Days for tests: If an entire day or a certain number of overs are washed out then play can continue on to the reserve day. 5. Floodlights to eliminate bad light: Remove this blight on the game by simply using the floodlights that are already there.

  • AdityaMookerjee on June 26, 2009, 11:01 GMT

    The joys which T20 cricket generate, have less to do with the game, and more to do with the self gratification felt by the spectator sitting through the game. The white ball is unsuitable for Test cricket, because it will not last the ninety overs needed for the ball change. I don't feel that T20 cricket has contributed to the spectators positive feelings for cricket. The spectator is more interested in being self interested. I believe, the malaise which was Test cricket in the past, was due to the approach of the test cricketers, as was proved, when Australia made the game positive and exciting by playing the game following a certain creed.

  • mahida on June 26, 2009, 9:26 GMT

    Test cricket must be preserved in its purest form. No need to implement such madly things. Test cricket lovers will like to watch test cricket in only this present form far upto the eternity.

  • knightym06 on June 26, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    there missing the easiest thing here, start test matches earlier in a day, a good 1/2 hours of playing time are wasted a day. matches should start at like 9:30 to give extra playing time which would a) improve chances of a result b) reduce the effect of time lost to weather. test grounds should also have floodlights to reduce time lost to bad light. pitches at test grounds should be more strictly monitered as well, we had a winter of rubbish pitches in the windies and nohing happend, pitches should be ranked and if they fall below a certain standard they should be given 1 game to turn it around otherwise they should loose there tests to another ground. i feel this would vastly improve the game and make tests more interesting because we will get more results

  • Harvey on June 26, 2009, 8:16 GMT

    Cricket is a sport best played in daylight. The idea of day/night Test matches (where you have issues such as dew to contend with) is nothing but a gimmick. I really don't see how it would make the game more exciting or (in England at least) increase attendances. Is there honestly a single person who turns up to ODI's or T20 because the players are wearing garishly coloured clothing? Test matches in England (when played at a sensible time of year) sell out anyway. In fact, have a look on e-bay or Seatwave and see how many "unhip" Test cricket fans seem to be prepared to part with hundreds of pounds just to watch a day of Test cricket at Lord's this summer. Whilst Day/Night matches might make it easier for people who live very locally to show up after work (if they don't mind missing the first session of play), they will exclude people who live any distance from the ground and rely on public transport to get home. And as for the frigid night time temperatures we would have to endure...

  • TheHooker on June 26, 2009, 7:15 GMT

    Test cricket will be viable should it be entertaining. I tend to agree with the four game principle, if only to stop greedy administrators desperately trying to eke out every last minute of a Test. Grounds should be struck off should they fail to produce result pitches, ruthlessly. I, personally, am sick of seeing mediocre batsmen average nearly 50, tailenders regularly smacking 50s, scores of 500 plus. Only the very best should be able to get Test centuries, only the very best should be able to average 50 over a career, and only the very best should be able to score a century on the final day of a Test match on an uneven, spiteful pitch. But as a ruling body, I don't have much faith in the ICC. Its location and its self-serving, self-fulfilling nature appall me.

  • balaji_05 on June 26, 2009, 6:32 GMT

    "Tennis has hardly suffered in popularity since it stopped insisting on all-white garb."

    true, but doesn't Wimbledon still hold a special place in everyone's heart because of the rich tradition and heirtage? and they still insist on the all whites. Think maybe coloured balls, not clothing, is the way to go.

  • Lennon_Marx on June 26, 2009, 6:05 GMT

    It is important not to get caught up in too much of the "No more uneven teams." I completely disagree, because I think it is important to keep Bangladesh and soon Ireland, Canada and potentially the Dutch in the loop. In the end (ignoring India a moment) the major cricket teams (South Africa, Australia and England) are not going to travel far out of there way to play ODI/T20 series regularly (India has done relatively regularly in recent years and will likely continue to do so), especially against Associate Nations. For all of the talk about two tiered test matches remember this: International games for say Ireland against S L, WIndies or NZ won't build the game internationally and bring the results of Olympic Games bigger revenue and other things most of us I suspect want to see. That will only come about by playing the big four, and this will only happen as a result of tests played against them. There are ways to limiting how many of these games occur, but they happen at some point

  • mrcrazyman95 on June 26, 2009, 5:59 GMT

    its quite simple and many people agree with me, AXE ODI cricket, instead of a 7 match odi series, a 5 match 2020 series, instead of 3 tests 5 odis and 2 t20, 4tests 7 t20., why even bother with odi.

  • JackMacl on June 26, 2009, 2:05 GMT

    I think that we need to find a way to stop draws. After five days of fantastic cricket, it is a massive anticlimax that a team may fall 10 runs short, or a team needs 1 wicket to win and just because time's up means that at team that thoughroughly deserved to win can't. They may have totally outplayed a team but just fallen short. I think there needs to be a system that if one team can plausibly win they are given a certain amount of overs (according to their position in the game) to finish the game in. However if the other team get a certain amount of runs/wickets in that time (also depending on the circumstances of the game) then they are the winners. This gives each game a finish. Another problem we have is the leave. Half-volleys and short balls outside off stump are being left alone just incase they get out to them. These are top class batsman who should back themselves to hit it for four. We need more quality test matches between the top teams and less South Africa vs Bangaldesh

  • Sharath.Komarraju on June 26, 2009, 1:37 GMT

    The question is, does Test Cricket need any tinkering? Why don't we just let it be and add a level of complexity to ODIs instead? Two innings of 25 overs each, with each team allowed 10 wickets for both innings combined. Give 2 points for first innings 'wins' and 4 for outright match wins. That will get test match 'variables' into ODI cricket and make it that much richer. Not to mention a tactical layer where teams have to decide whether to go for a first innings target or save wickets in the first innings, forego first innings points, and shoot for an outright in the second.

  • Krooks on June 25, 2009, 22:23 GMT

    Hi Rob, I disagree with your view. I love T20 and would any given day spend 7 hours on a saturday evening to watch an ODI game, but bring a test match to me any given day. Oh what joys Test Match cricket provides but .. and here is the kicker, on a Day not on a night. There are just too many variables involved in night cricket which do not work for Test Match. First is the ball, the white ball goes soft after 50 overs and then becomes discolored, so can't be used. The Pink ball though a better alternative is not fit enough to provide consistent swing, seam or grip( for the spinner). The best bet is a red cherry and a red cherry is best used in day. Think about Trent Bridge and the prospect of a deadly first 2 hours for the batsmen followed by comforts of the post lunch session. Think about Eden Gardens and the full flow of batsmen in the first 2 sessions is stalled in the post-tea session. Test cricket is wonderful cos' over the course of 5 DAYS the pitch changes its color and the team

  • PratUSA on June 25, 2009, 21:41 GMT

    I don't quite understand what your attempt here is. No one watches a a sport because players are wearing their favorite color. People come to grounds or watch on TV any game that's closely fought between evenly matched teams irrespective of colors or lack of it. Only time colors or dress style matter when you are talking about IPL cheerleaders and that too not going to bring more spectators to ground I would think. I am all for day time tests in whites. We just need to avoid playing meaningless series and ensure players get more time to rest and prepare before a series. Last but not the least, pitches need to be anything but plain flat.

  • TwitterJitter on June 25, 2009, 20:33 GMT

    b) People don't consider Rahul Dravid style scoring rate while playing for whole day entertainment anymore, especially under such torrid weather conditions they subject themselves to. So Sehwag, Gilchrist, Hayden style scoring rates are needed if people have to get their rear ends to the stadiums considering that they also have to skip work to watch the game.

  • TwitterJitter on June 25, 2009, 20:31 GMT

    Before recommending a treatment for a patient, we need to do two things. First make sure that the patient is sick and then diagnose the sickness correctly. For example, in the subcontinent the symptom that everyone sees is empty stadiums and they immediately confirm that test cricket is suffering and start offering their solutions. In my humble opinion, the reason for dwindling crowds in sub-continent is two-fold. a) Scorching heat: Forget summer, even in a ordinary day the temperatures in many places hover above 90F and there not enough facilities at the stadium like air conditioned facilities and other stuff to alleviate your suffering. It might not have been a problem in 90s and before but people's incomes have increased now and so their comfort requirements. They don't view watching cricket while sweating profusely under such hot sun and humid weather entertainment anymore. They watch it on TV. So viewership has shifted from stadiums to TV or internet. b) to be contd

  • soumyaparida on June 25, 2009, 20:11 GMT

    Given a choice, a spectator would go to watch a T20 every five day of the week rather than watching a Test. Unless he is too too much into cricket. The fact that ICC ignores here is to a spectator, a T20 gives more value than the Test. See we dont have time to throw away. I might buy a Test ticket if its 20$, but I might not go there for 5 days. But if its a T20 and the ticket is 30$ I will buy it and go see it. So T20, One day wil lhave more people in the stadium anytime. Guaranteed. The other thing is the spectators for Test were less 25 yrs ago, its probably around the same number now. You know what the real problem is? ICC and all other boards and player want more money, they get a lot in T20, and a gruelling 5 days wont give them that much. Earlier people used to play for passion only. its not the same now. Its a moral dillemma for them. Dont say spectators changed, players and boards did. As per us, we are still the same, and we still got no time.

  • Stevo_ on June 25, 2009, 20:08 GMT

    "That ball-tampering is neither evil nor cheating" Sorry are you implying that ball tampering has a place in our game ? It's downright cheating

  • kingofspain on June 25, 2009, 18:42 GMT

    I don't really see evidence that test cricket needs to radically change itself. I wouldn't mind the "two-tier" proposal currently on the homepage but I don't see any problems with test cricket itself. These gimmicks won't attract new supporters but they will alienate loyal ones like me.

  • GoodCricketWicket on June 25, 2009, 16:52 GMT

    As the other commenters have suggested, the main problem is pitches that produce anaesthetic cricket. 8 runs an over is all very well, and can be thrilling, but it still doesn't compare to the tension of a close test match finish - witness the 2005 Ashes series for evidence of that.

    Coloured clothing is no more than a gimmick. I can't imagine people saying "I'll go to the test match now that England are playing in blue". Day/Night test matches simply won't work, at least not in England due to the imbalance between bat and ball at night.

  • Lennon_Marx on June 25, 2009, 15:02 GMT

    I absolutely agree with you Rob, but we must remember that ever since its inception the ICC has been remarkably unwilling to do anything that even a trained a monkey would instantly realize is beneficial to the game. I love the idea of day-night tests, the coloured balls (although I've watched day night cricket at first class level and can vouch for orange balls tailing like a comet at night, and white balls lasting nowhere near long enough) and pyjama test clothes but they miss the point. The saviour of test cricket in the long term will be more competitive and varied pitches so that when you go to India you get a completely different pitch from say the West Indies, or in recent years the WACA ground. The World championship is a ludicrously obvious idea that would be apparent to prenatal children but apparently not administrators (after all something like that will obviously create interest and money, who would want that?) who as ever obstruct the games growth globally. :-x

  • John-Price on June 25, 2009, 13:58 GMT

    What evidence is there that coloured clothing has attracted a single young spectator to the game? In the youth cricket I see, white is worn as a matter of course and without complaint. I am yet to hear anyone, young or old, say that coloured kit makes the game a more appealing spectacle and I have many people say the opposite.

    I recall Wimbledon fought a rearguard action to keep white clothing and now they are fully vindicated - not even the most idiotic marketing guru would suggest it be changed. I suggest that the only purpose coloured kit serves is to promote sales of replica shirts.

    My vote goes to abandoning coloured kit completely, bringing the professional game into line with the club game and restoring a facet of the game which adds greatly to its atheistic appeal.

  • SettingSun on June 25, 2009, 13:18 GMT

    I just cannot see any way that day-night tests are going to work. People are not going to pop in after a hard day's work to watch a couple of hours' test cricket and see Rahul Dravid grind his way through at a 30.00 run rate. They want to be entertained after such an event, which is where Twenty20 comes in.

    Why the ICC haven't been able to put together a world test championship is beyond me. Such a championship would bring meaning to far more test matches and series than you see now. Even if it wouldn't necessarily bring more people in, it might help (but not completely solve the problem) prevent instances like we saw with a disinterested West Indies team a few weeks ago.

  • StJohn on June 25, 2009, 12:45 GMT

    Perhaps concern over Test cricket's survival is premature. Twenty20 is a new phenomenon, but will it still be popular in 20 yrs time? I'm a big cricket fan, but strangely I had no real interest at all in the IPL or the World Twenty20. But we should not be complacent; it is very disappointing to see so many Tests, whether in NZ or Pakistan, played in near-empty stadiums. The article raises complex issues, and there isn't space here to comment about all ideas for boosting Tests. But just to focus on day-night Tests, coloured clothing and the white ball: why have a one-size-fits-all approach? In places like England, where Tests remain popular, perhaps there is no need to tinker with the system; but perhaps in other countries, where Test cricket faces bigger challenges, experimentation might be more appropriate? There doesn't necessarily have to be a uniform or standardised approach, in the same way that tennis players wear whites for Wimbledon and coloured clothes almost everywhere else.

  • dar268 on June 25, 2009, 12:12 GMT

    If test cricket needs to resort to these gimmicks to survive then it might as well pick its bag now. How often does a toss-winning county captain bowl first in a floodlit game in England? Very rarely, because even a retarded amoeba knows batting is much harder at night. Floodlights would make test cricket a laughing stock. And if rather than two-innings T20, why not have 40 over ODIs instead (a simple move that was obvious 10 years ago)?!!! The answer is that the new breed of cricket 'fan' needs to see several boundaries an over or they'll get bored and go back to watching football.

  • Bearded_Lefty on June 25, 2009, 11:37 GMT

    My two suggestions would be balanced pitches and cheaper tickets. Evening cricket is a great idea. If I could afford the price and go outside of work hours, i would dearly love to watch test cricket, far over and above and one-day rubbish. I am 24 and i know plenty who feel the same way as me

  • just_Test_lover on June 25, 2009, 10:42 GMT

    I agree with you! I love the test matches. Im 24! T20 is so just a splash, like a new rollacoaster that once you've been on it its old. No challenge to the art of concentration. Test matches offer 5 days of cricket where players are asked different skill sets through out the 5 days. Morning session to last day. new ball, spin etc. Test will survive because T20 will die out first as it can't truely be what players enjoy the most. No chance to get 100 against the likes of Australia, 5 wicket hauls or great innings that save a test (Jp Duminy).

    I will rather watch a test that a ODI that costs 5 times the price. That shows me a batsman is a true batsman not a lucky hitter with a big piece of willow. Where each player plays a vital role to the batting line up. Where captains bowling and batting strategies are tested.

    the other argument against the white ball against white clouds and a bight sun/sky it is harder to pick up. Where red balls out of white clouds stand out with contrast.

  • D.V.C. on June 25, 2009, 10:31 GMT

    Rob, this was a well written article. I feel kind of like a blue pencil weilding nazi to be the one telling you that you have missed the point but I'm afraid you have. The problem with the white ball isn't coloured kit. The problem is the white ball doesn't even last 50 overs, let alone 80. There is a compulsory ball change at 40 overs in ODIs at the moment. Most of us really don't like that. We can barely accept a ball change in a 50 over game, but to have to make one in a Test match is an alteration to the format, a further insutl to the bowler in a game that must balance bat with ball. Not to mention a slight on the fielding side's ability to look after their ball. I like the idea of night tests. The chance for the bowlers to use changing conditions might help restore some of the lost balance, but really the pink ball seems a better bet. p.s. I agree with you on the Test Championship.

  • Hoggard_Fan on June 25, 2009, 9:27 GMT

    I can see your point, but making the changes you have suggested would just leave you with the one-day game, but over five days! The reason why the Test game is different to the one-day game is because of the kit and ball; it swings more in Test cricket, and the whites are an anachronism, akin to our erstwhile teams. Whilst that may suggest they are old-fashioned, it in fact shows a good tradition we should not get rid of. The US, French and Australian Opens in Tennis all have coloured outfits, but Wimbledon does not buckle and maintains its tradition; Test cricket should do likewise: keep the red ball and keep the whites - this is the tradition that has been kept over hundreds of years. Yes, there needs to be a way of getting interest back into Test cricket, but it should not be by playing with the fundamentals. The first improvement must be proper preparation of pitches, which the ICC should continually check weeks before a Test: a fair contest between bat and ball is what people want

  • U.A.1985 on June 25, 2009, 9:24 GMT

    Totally agree with redneck. Test Cricket is pure cricket and it has a limited/niche audience which it deserves because it is not everyone's ball game to concentrate on the test game and also because everyone does not have a cricket acumen of a level required for watching and understanding test cricket. I would in fact like an exclusive fan club for Test Cricket rather than a mass one.

  • Jdevanesan on June 25, 2009, 6:22 GMT

    ICC has been looking at the pheripheral stuff but not the core issue which cause the problem. The problem around the world is more because of too much cricket and Dead Pitches...

    Those are the 2 things that needs to be addressed. ICC should take tough stance on dead Wickets. Dead wickets should be banned for a year or 2 so that regional boards prepare lively wickets.

    ICC also should ensure that teams have adequate break between series so that players have time to cherish their victories or analyse their losses. Pakistan had a wonderful Victory but they cant even enjoy it with their friends and countryment. While India & WI do not have any time to even see where the problem is. Such a situation will reduce Players passion to be at their best.

  • sifter132 on June 25, 2009, 4:59 GMT

    Rob I hear some of your points mate. A Test World Championship would be great and I've thought of a number of ways to make it happen (might post them later). I think the best future for 50 over cricket is a 2 x 20 over innings, making a 40 over total for your side, swapping over obviously between innings. It would then make both sides bat under lights and would keep the game closer for longer.

    But your idea about the white ball is not right. The reason the white ball isn't brought up is not because of the desired clothing colours, it's because the white ball can't last 50 overs let alone 80. And as Umar Gul showed, you can get a white ball reverse swinging after 12 overs. Is that what we want in Test cricket? NO. It's the properties of the ball that are in question, not the fashion.

  • redneck on June 25, 2009, 4:49 GMT

    everyones always worrying about how test cricket will survive. its already over 130 years old, why do people all of a sudden think its going to wither and die? am i the only person who is board to death with twenty20 after the drawn out ipl and then the twenty20 cup. im hanging for a match with a batsmen likely to make a century and a innings where the bowler uses the 50 over old ball well and get some reverse swing happening!!! enough already with the matches that 160 is considered a good score or the batsman did well for the team coming in 4th to make 30 runs off 18 balls or where 6's hit are measured in a effort to come up with more usless stats for wisden or where individual battles between bowler and batsmen eg warne v tendulker last more than 3 balls before the rules dictate that the bowler has used up his 4 overs or 20 overs have been faced by the batting team and therefore the individual battle must prematurly cease! these type of reasons are why test cricket will always remain

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  • redneck on June 25, 2009, 4:49 GMT

    everyones always worrying about how test cricket will survive. its already over 130 years old, why do people all of a sudden think its going to wither and die? am i the only person who is board to death with twenty20 after the drawn out ipl and then the twenty20 cup. im hanging for a match with a batsmen likely to make a century and a innings where the bowler uses the 50 over old ball well and get some reverse swing happening!!! enough already with the matches that 160 is considered a good score or the batsman did well for the team coming in 4th to make 30 runs off 18 balls or where 6's hit are measured in a effort to come up with more usless stats for wisden or where individual battles between bowler and batsmen eg warne v tendulker last more than 3 balls before the rules dictate that the bowler has used up his 4 overs or 20 overs have been faced by the batting team and therefore the individual battle must prematurly cease! these type of reasons are why test cricket will always remain

  • sifter132 on June 25, 2009, 4:59 GMT

    Rob I hear some of your points mate. A Test World Championship would be great and I've thought of a number of ways to make it happen (might post them later). I think the best future for 50 over cricket is a 2 x 20 over innings, making a 40 over total for your side, swapping over obviously between innings. It would then make both sides bat under lights and would keep the game closer for longer.

    But your idea about the white ball is not right. The reason the white ball isn't brought up is not because of the desired clothing colours, it's because the white ball can't last 50 overs let alone 80. And as Umar Gul showed, you can get a white ball reverse swinging after 12 overs. Is that what we want in Test cricket? NO. It's the properties of the ball that are in question, not the fashion.

  • Jdevanesan on June 25, 2009, 6:22 GMT

    ICC has been looking at the pheripheral stuff but not the core issue which cause the problem. The problem around the world is more because of too much cricket and Dead Pitches...

    Those are the 2 things that needs to be addressed. ICC should take tough stance on dead Wickets. Dead wickets should be banned for a year or 2 so that regional boards prepare lively wickets.

    ICC also should ensure that teams have adequate break between series so that players have time to cherish their victories or analyse their losses. Pakistan had a wonderful Victory but they cant even enjoy it with their friends and countryment. While India & WI do not have any time to even see where the problem is. Such a situation will reduce Players passion to be at their best.

  • U.A.1985 on June 25, 2009, 9:24 GMT

    Totally agree with redneck. Test Cricket is pure cricket and it has a limited/niche audience which it deserves because it is not everyone's ball game to concentrate on the test game and also because everyone does not have a cricket acumen of a level required for watching and understanding test cricket. I would in fact like an exclusive fan club for Test Cricket rather than a mass one.

  • Hoggard_Fan on June 25, 2009, 9:27 GMT

    I can see your point, but making the changes you have suggested would just leave you with the one-day game, but over five days! The reason why the Test game is different to the one-day game is because of the kit and ball; it swings more in Test cricket, and the whites are an anachronism, akin to our erstwhile teams. Whilst that may suggest they are old-fashioned, it in fact shows a good tradition we should not get rid of. The US, French and Australian Opens in Tennis all have coloured outfits, but Wimbledon does not buckle and maintains its tradition; Test cricket should do likewise: keep the red ball and keep the whites - this is the tradition that has been kept over hundreds of years. Yes, there needs to be a way of getting interest back into Test cricket, but it should not be by playing with the fundamentals. The first improvement must be proper preparation of pitches, which the ICC should continually check weeks before a Test: a fair contest between bat and ball is what people want

  • D.V.C. on June 25, 2009, 10:31 GMT

    Rob, this was a well written article. I feel kind of like a blue pencil weilding nazi to be the one telling you that you have missed the point but I'm afraid you have. The problem with the white ball isn't coloured kit. The problem is the white ball doesn't even last 50 overs, let alone 80. There is a compulsory ball change at 40 overs in ODIs at the moment. Most of us really don't like that. We can barely accept a ball change in a 50 over game, but to have to make one in a Test match is an alteration to the format, a further insutl to the bowler in a game that must balance bat with ball. Not to mention a slight on the fielding side's ability to look after their ball. I like the idea of night tests. The chance for the bowlers to use changing conditions might help restore some of the lost balance, but really the pink ball seems a better bet. p.s. I agree with you on the Test Championship.

  • just_Test_lover on June 25, 2009, 10:42 GMT

    I agree with you! I love the test matches. Im 24! T20 is so just a splash, like a new rollacoaster that once you've been on it its old. No challenge to the art of concentration. Test matches offer 5 days of cricket where players are asked different skill sets through out the 5 days. Morning session to last day. new ball, spin etc. Test will survive because T20 will die out first as it can't truely be what players enjoy the most. No chance to get 100 against the likes of Australia, 5 wicket hauls or great innings that save a test (Jp Duminy).

    I will rather watch a test that a ODI that costs 5 times the price. That shows me a batsman is a true batsman not a lucky hitter with a big piece of willow. Where each player plays a vital role to the batting line up. Where captains bowling and batting strategies are tested.

    the other argument against the white ball against white clouds and a bight sun/sky it is harder to pick up. Where red balls out of white clouds stand out with contrast.

  • Bearded_Lefty on June 25, 2009, 11:37 GMT

    My two suggestions would be balanced pitches and cheaper tickets. Evening cricket is a great idea. If I could afford the price and go outside of work hours, i would dearly love to watch test cricket, far over and above and one-day rubbish. I am 24 and i know plenty who feel the same way as me

  • dar268 on June 25, 2009, 12:12 GMT

    If test cricket needs to resort to these gimmicks to survive then it might as well pick its bag now. How often does a toss-winning county captain bowl first in a floodlit game in England? Very rarely, because even a retarded amoeba knows batting is much harder at night. Floodlights would make test cricket a laughing stock. And if rather than two-innings T20, why not have 40 over ODIs instead (a simple move that was obvious 10 years ago)?!!! The answer is that the new breed of cricket 'fan' needs to see several boundaries an over or they'll get bored and go back to watching football.

  • StJohn on June 25, 2009, 12:45 GMT

    Perhaps concern over Test cricket's survival is premature. Twenty20 is a new phenomenon, but will it still be popular in 20 yrs time? I'm a big cricket fan, but strangely I had no real interest at all in the IPL or the World Twenty20. But we should not be complacent; it is very disappointing to see so many Tests, whether in NZ or Pakistan, played in near-empty stadiums. The article raises complex issues, and there isn't space here to comment about all ideas for boosting Tests. But just to focus on day-night Tests, coloured clothing and the white ball: why have a one-size-fits-all approach? In places like England, where Tests remain popular, perhaps there is no need to tinker with the system; but perhaps in other countries, where Test cricket faces bigger challenges, experimentation might be more appropriate? There doesn't necessarily have to be a uniform or standardised approach, in the same way that tennis players wear whites for Wimbledon and coloured clothes almost everywhere else.