December 13, 2010

The decline and fall of Test cricket

Like children do with video games, as spectators we are going numb watching dull, futile matches and are revelling in the tiny bits of quality on display
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Decline, decline everywhere in Test cricket. Australia are in gloat-worthy decline. New Zealand have declined to a small spot on the horizon. Pakistan are declining in concentric implosions. West Indies, perhaps, can no longer be accused of being in decline; they have simply settled into a permanent beach-chair recline. And yet managed to come out looking better in rain-drenched Sri Lanka, whose team, no longer levitating on Murali's magic carpet, are themselves not flying up, up and away.

Bangladesh, decline being impossible, are at any given time supposedly in incline - till whoops! A collapse here and another there and 'tis but an illusion it turns out. Hence they remain secure at the intersection of X and Y axes. Zimbabwe have declined off the co-ordinates altogether.

Who does that leave? India, England and South Africa. This trio may appear to be in gentle incline, but I don't know. As with relative speeds of bodies in opposing directions, I suspect they could be merely reaping the advantage of relative angles. One cannot be sure. These are puzzling matters. There's a black hole out there in Test cricket. Who is winning all the matches that everyone is losing? How is it that each of the ICC's press releases talks of some team or the other slipping two places down the rankings while nobody seems to be climbing? Is the decline of Test cricket causing the decline of its teams or are declining teams causing the decline of Test cricket?

What I do know is that the multiple declines have taken their toll on cricket watchers. In the same way video games inure children to violence, we have begun to numb to weak, declining cricket. The television stays on, futile commentary to futile cricket, till, glazed, we don't see or hear anymore. The scoreboards, matches, tournaments tick over and like sad robots we wait for passages to rouse us into feeling human again.

Look at the West Indians. Many of us weren't around to watch Roberts, Holding, Marshall and Croft target-practising, but we did grow up with Patterson, Ambrose, Walsh and Bishop. From there to the emaciated offerings of, say, Lionel Baker, is so crushing a fall that if one happens to chance upon Kemar Roach running in quick for an entire spell, it feels like the world may turn a circle yet.

Such are the deceptions of the deluded - and Test cricket viewers tend to be nothing if not deluded. ICC's media managers only reflect our state of mind when they supply us sentences such as: "Meanwhile, the West Indies has gained points for managing to avoid defeat in the series and is now placed just three ratings points behind Pakistan in seventh position."

There's a black hole out there in Test cricket. Who is winning all the matches that everyone is losing? How is it that each of the ICC's press releases talk of some team or the other slipping two places down the rankings while nobody seems to be climbing?

Three rating points above West Indies: this is a pretty good reflection of Pakistan's own decline. For years, we relied on Pakistan's prodigious natural talent to generate a revival, but this too seems deluded. Not only must a player be prodigiously talented, he must: a) Be averse to drugs, beating team-mates with bats, and biting balls, b) Not rub Ijaz Butt the wrong way, c) Not procure an agent d), Not be made captain, e) If in possession of an agent and made captain, then not share agent with players who fulfil the first four criteria. These are more filters than any reasonable system can endure.

With the decline of West Indies and Pakistan, something's gone out of cricket. Nobody of my generation imagined such a fate would befall Australia. Admittedly a collapse to those levels is beyond them, but with every passing series, one can watch them try. Up at 5.30am in India to greet cricket from Australia, we would be tyrannised once upon a time by Craig McDermott and Merv Hughes, their zinc creams and swear words; later by Glenn McGrath eating up batsmen's very souls, Jason Gillespie streaming in like a particularly nasty witch, Shane Warne bluffing out of the rough. Nowadays, we find Australia at 2 for 3. Or England resuming at 309 for 1. Or England resuming at 317 for 2. Or 551 for 4. With Xavier Doherty waiting to have a go.

Indeed, nothing describes Australia's decline better than poor Doherty. Regionalism was supposed to be the bugbear of Indian captains, but it is hard to attribute anything other than Tasmanian brotherhood to Ricky Ponting's backing of a lad with a first-class bowling average of 49. Indian viewers suspect a conspiracy that has been two years in the making, from the time fake Tasmanian Jason Krejza's 12-wicket debut haul in Nagpur was undone by legendarily dim captaincy. Krejza only ever played one Test thereafter. Apparently, he goes for too many runs. Twelve wickets for 350 runs? Australia's recent going rate has been five for a thousand. They could play an attack for four Krejza's.

Word is that Australians are in denial of their decline. Well, even lifelong Aussie-dissers seem to be. For a month now, a friend has been plying me with all manner of uncharacteristic offerings--they look pretty decent on paper; they're just not taking their chances - but, after years of manfully talking down the Australians when they were properly invincible, I can tell he's only guarding against complacency. How on earth to deal with insufferable Australian supremacy should it return? It is an admirable mechanism, but perhaps he should have more faith in Test cricket's graphs. It's all going downhill, into oblivion.

Rahul Bhattacharya is the author of the cricket tour book Pundits from Pakistan and the forthcoming novel The Sly Company of People Who Care

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY BravoBravo on | December 16, 2010, 17:40 GMT

    Good and in-depth article. In my opinion test cricket is loosing its thrill because of the lack of genuine bowlers. T-20 cricket (and huge amount of revenues) has been the main catalyst for the decline in the quality of bowling.Things are not going to be improved soon as as long as the recent trend continues to worship the batsmen making 10, 15 K runs, and ignoring quality bowlers. The game becoming more like a boxer(batsman) practicing on punching bag (bowler). If some bowlers succeed even in such pro-batsmen environment, they immediately being labelled as chucker (MM- even ex Aus PM Howard called him that), cheater or suspect action (Vettori's comment on Umar Gul's in T-20 5 wkt haul). When wasim-Waqar were doing reverse swing it was cheating, and now it became most-desirable quality/art for pace bowling. Test cricket/ODI will not be as thrilling as they should be without a real contest between bat and ball.

  • POSTED BY adityas on | December 16, 2010, 4:23 GMT

    Here are Test cricket's problems. --- (A) Big screen HDTV - Cricket always offered better VIEWING ANGLE on the TV screen than on the field. Now with the availability of big screen HDTV, cricket is going to suffer even more from lack of SPECTATORS. <Solution > Introduce local BLACKOUTS ? ----- (B) PATHETIC STADIUMS/FACILITIES in some countries. - Remember people's STANDARD of LIVING at home and EXPECTATIONS ( not in any extravagant way ) are not what it was 20 years ago. Also, in a 7 hour game, people HAVE to EAT, use RESTROOMs. Not so in a 3 hour game <Solution> BETTER, CHEAPER food, better FACILITIES. Provide Shade from SUN or RAIN - if the place so demands. Try ONE venue AT A TIME and see if it improves attendance.(C) Lack of FAST BOWLERS < Solution > Have one SET of VENUES, with TEST PITCHES, for ONLY TEST - another for ODI/T20. Introduce REVENUE SHARING so that no one loses out.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | December 16, 2010, 0:47 GMT

    @ jay57870 - well said. I think that rivalries will keep Test cricket alive & well. I follow tests more then the other shorter formats, but I am alrmed that they are tinkering so much with 50/50 cricket. Its the best format for deciding a World Champion. I would ditch T20 world cup in favour of the Champions League (regional/franchise format) & keep International T20s as being for the Olympics & the occasional bi-lateral series. Even Oz v NZ will always draw a crowd - no matter where the standings are. The problem is with other contests, Oz can't make money out of Bangladesh, Pakistan & SL tours, & will struggle with Zim when they are playing tests again. That means almost half the test playing nations aren't money pullers (sort of). The right leadership from the ICC & all 3 formats can be sustained & compliment each other.

  • POSTED BY OW-ZAAT on | December 15, 2010, 21:06 GMT

    'ey guys. Seems like all of my life i've been been hearing the sounding of the death knell of test cricket. It's a generational thing man. That thing has been sounding off long before my time, given that, test cricket should have been dead and buried by now. Guess what, it's alive. I'ts the purest form of the game, it's been tried and fried in the crucible and always has and probably always will find a way to carry on. I'm not at all worried. A word of caution to my english friends. Australia has always been a strong team, even in the worst times. Reason? they have and always had the best domestic system. With that underpinning I do not expect their fall to be far and long. the way the talk has been going you would think that the series was done and dusted, there's still some cricket to be played. You know what? I've got this feeling that the englishmen might receive a nasty shock at perth.

  • POSTED BY adityas on | December 15, 2010, 0:27 GMT

    (1) If people who are lamenting about the draws now, cared to look at the stats, they would find that % of draws in 1970, 1980s was 45%. In 2000s, it is 25%. --- (2) EXCESS always causes FATIGUE. T20 is only played two months a year and some one-off ones. Wait till T20 is played like Test is played THROUGHOUT the year. With so much Test cricket, viewer apathy is to be expected. ---- (3) No matter what cricket does, it WON'T SATISFY this generation where IPHONE3 owners cannot wait for IPHONE4 to come out. --- (4) Also, cricket is COMPETING with various other modes of GRATIFICATION/enjoyment that weren't available before

  • POSTED BY on | December 14, 2010, 23:27 GMT

    Loved it Rahul ! Awesomely written. To the other comments below who are questioning the point of this article...well how about this little stat: The only bowler in test cricket right now with over 50 wickets and a bowling average lower than 25 is Dale Styen. The other, Mohd Asif, is on the verge of being banned for life. What does that tell you about the quality of test cricket ? Australia, West Indies and Pakistan, who have historically produced the best bowlers (other than pre 1970 England), dont have a single match winning bowler right now. Test cricket is obviously in decline when match winning bowlers are becoming fast extinct.

  • POSTED BY on | December 14, 2010, 18:34 GMT

    Why make such a big fuss when Aus, WI and Pak are declining?? Where were you when we were waking up at 5: 30 A.M. IST to see the Ausies torment India?? Why didnt you write on Test Cricket dying bcos India not performing???? Just bcos Aus, WI and Pak are declining, it does not mean that cricket is losing its sheen. We have India, Saf and Eng producing quality cricket and please give them credit; its really due!!! And its enough singing lullabies on old West Indies team; nobody is interested in it. Live in the present pls!!!

  • POSTED BY Hiteshdevilliers on | December 14, 2010, 18:03 GMT

    Listen, I have liked reading some of your previous articles, but this one not so much. Maybe test cricket is in decline, but at least it is fun to watch the competition for the supremacy spread amongst the top four teams, rather than watching one Australia rule the roost. Before the 2007, so many series were hyped up, only to see Australia whitewash opponents over and over again in agonizing fashion. Now that that time has come, you are trying to take the thunder away from England and India. I will agree in saying that fast bowlers are not as fast as before, and pitches have become too flat, even in Australia as we saw at the once fortress Gabba. Money and the IPL has taken over cricket and that too is a cause in the decline of test cricket. But you know what, it is finally nice to see Australia getting a taste of their own medicine. They are enduring the same headaches they once inflicted, and feels so good to see Ponting kneeling down back to Earth. The once egoist is no longer.

  • POSTED BY Jabari18 on | December 14, 2010, 16:27 GMT

    Test cricket will survive and weather the storm. What you need is a captain like Sobers to emerge. One all about the fans and spectators. On top of that you need testing wickets. Wickets that a good batsman scores on and good bowlers take wickets on. Lastly you need true personalities. I will pay money to sit and watch Viv Richards walk to the crease. He could be out first ball, but he had a swagger and a presence about him that made you want to watch him. And I have only seen clips of him so I can imagine how it felt inside the ground.

    After watching Trinidad and Tobago reach the finals of the first T20 club championship I realised that the world needs the West Indies to rebound and bring back the colour and passion. And it needs Pakistan to resurface, full of talent as the sides of old. If the ICC can assist these two boards i think Test cricket will be back on the rise.

  • POSTED BY jay57870 on | December 14, 2010, 15:09 GMT

    (Contd) 3) Cricket itself is undergoing a dramatic transformation with the emergence of the game's shorter formats. Economists call it "creative destruction." Surely the upstart T20, paced by the franchise-based IPL, has been a commercial success. Still, it's a rough-and-tumble world and it's difficult to say how things will shake out in the future. Suffice it to say that Test cricket will certainly appeal to those nations playing for national pride in hotly-contested rivalries. Note the economic impact of the current Ashes is estimated at about $400 million, matching the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia. Even while attendance might be down in Test matches, more fans are following them on TVs, PCs, radios, mobiles and the like. Further, the intensity of rivalries is heating up. A test case: the upcoming India-South Africa Tests is a battle for supremacy between the world's top two teams. A new frontier perhaps. Bottom-line: Test cricket is alive, well and showing signs of endurance.

  • POSTED BY BravoBravo on | December 16, 2010, 17:40 GMT

    Good and in-depth article. In my opinion test cricket is loosing its thrill because of the lack of genuine bowlers. T-20 cricket (and huge amount of revenues) has been the main catalyst for the decline in the quality of bowling.Things are not going to be improved soon as as long as the recent trend continues to worship the batsmen making 10, 15 K runs, and ignoring quality bowlers. The game becoming more like a boxer(batsman) practicing on punching bag (bowler). If some bowlers succeed even in such pro-batsmen environment, they immediately being labelled as chucker (MM- even ex Aus PM Howard called him that), cheater or suspect action (Vettori's comment on Umar Gul's in T-20 5 wkt haul). When wasim-Waqar were doing reverse swing it was cheating, and now it became most-desirable quality/art for pace bowling. Test cricket/ODI will not be as thrilling as they should be without a real contest between bat and ball.

  • POSTED BY adityas on | December 16, 2010, 4:23 GMT

    Here are Test cricket's problems. --- (A) Big screen HDTV - Cricket always offered better VIEWING ANGLE on the TV screen than on the field. Now with the availability of big screen HDTV, cricket is going to suffer even more from lack of SPECTATORS. <Solution > Introduce local BLACKOUTS ? ----- (B) PATHETIC STADIUMS/FACILITIES in some countries. - Remember people's STANDARD of LIVING at home and EXPECTATIONS ( not in any extravagant way ) are not what it was 20 years ago. Also, in a 7 hour game, people HAVE to EAT, use RESTROOMs. Not so in a 3 hour game <Solution> BETTER, CHEAPER food, better FACILITIES. Provide Shade from SUN or RAIN - if the place so demands. Try ONE venue AT A TIME and see if it improves attendance.(C) Lack of FAST BOWLERS < Solution > Have one SET of VENUES, with TEST PITCHES, for ONLY TEST - another for ODI/T20. Introduce REVENUE SHARING so that no one loses out.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | December 16, 2010, 0:47 GMT

    @ jay57870 - well said. I think that rivalries will keep Test cricket alive & well. I follow tests more then the other shorter formats, but I am alrmed that they are tinkering so much with 50/50 cricket. Its the best format for deciding a World Champion. I would ditch T20 world cup in favour of the Champions League (regional/franchise format) & keep International T20s as being for the Olympics & the occasional bi-lateral series. Even Oz v NZ will always draw a crowd - no matter where the standings are. The problem is with other contests, Oz can't make money out of Bangladesh, Pakistan & SL tours, & will struggle with Zim when they are playing tests again. That means almost half the test playing nations aren't money pullers (sort of). The right leadership from the ICC & all 3 formats can be sustained & compliment each other.

  • POSTED BY OW-ZAAT on | December 15, 2010, 21:06 GMT

    'ey guys. Seems like all of my life i've been been hearing the sounding of the death knell of test cricket. It's a generational thing man. That thing has been sounding off long before my time, given that, test cricket should have been dead and buried by now. Guess what, it's alive. I'ts the purest form of the game, it's been tried and fried in the crucible and always has and probably always will find a way to carry on. I'm not at all worried. A word of caution to my english friends. Australia has always been a strong team, even in the worst times. Reason? they have and always had the best domestic system. With that underpinning I do not expect their fall to be far and long. the way the talk has been going you would think that the series was done and dusted, there's still some cricket to be played. You know what? I've got this feeling that the englishmen might receive a nasty shock at perth.

  • POSTED BY adityas on | December 15, 2010, 0:27 GMT

    (1) If people who are lamenting about the draws now, cared to look at the stats, they would find that % of draws in 1970, 1980s was 45%. In 2000s, it is 25%. --- (2) EXCESS always causes FATIGUE. T20 is only played two months a year and some one-off ones. Wait till T20 is played like Test is played THROUGHOUT the year. With so much Test cricket, viewer apathy is to be expected. ---- (3) No matter what cricket does, it WON'T SATISFY this generation where IPHONE3 owners cannot wait for IPHONE4 to come out. --- (4) Also, cricket is COMPETING with various other modes of GRATIFICATION/enjoyment that weren't available before

  • POSTED BY on | December 14, 2010, 23:27 GMT

    Loved it Rahul ! Awesomely written. To the other comments below who are questioning the point of this article...well how about this little stat: The only bowler in test cricket right now with over 50 wickets and a bowling average lower than 25 is Dale Styen. The other, Mohd Asif, is on the verge of being banned for life. What does that tell you about the quality of test cricket ? Australia, West Indies and Pakistan, who have historically produced the best bowlers (other than pre 1970 England), dont have a single match winning bowler right now. Test cricket is obviously in decline when match winning bowlers are becoming fast extinct.

  • POSTED BY on | December 14, 2010, 18:34 GMT

    Why make such a big fuss when Aus, WI and Pak are declining?? Where were you when we were waking up at 5: 30 A.M. IST to see the Ausies torment India?? Why didnt you write on Test Cricket dying bcos India not performing???? Just bcos Aus, WI and Pak are declining, it does not mean that cricket is losing its sheen. We have India, Saf and Eng producing quality cricket and please give them credit; its really due!!! And its enough singing lullabies on old West Indies team; nobody is interested in it. Live in the present pls!!!

  • POSTED BY Hiteshdevilliers on | December 14, 2010, 18:03 GMT

    Listen, I have liked reading some of your previous articles, but this one not so much. Maybe test cricket is in decline, but at least it is fun to watch the competition for the supremacy spread amongst the top four teams, rather than watching one Australia rule the roost. Before the 2007, so many series were hyped up, only to see Australia whitewash opponents over and over again in agonizing fashion. Now that that time has come, you are trying to take the thunder away from England and India. I will agree in saying that fast bowlers are not as fast as before, and pitches have become too flat, even in Australia as we saw at the once fortress Gabba. Money and the IPL has taken over cricket and that too is a cause in the decline of test cricket. But you know what, it is finally nice to see Australia getting a taste of their own medicine. They are enduring the same headaches they once inflicted, and feels so good to see Ponting kneeling down back to Earth. The once egoist is no longer.

  • POSTED BY Jabari18 on | December 14, 2010, 16:27 GMT

    Test cricket will survive and weather the storm. What you need is a captain like Sobers to emerge. One all about the fans and spectators. On top of that you need testing wickets. Wickets that a good batsman scores on and good bowlers take wickets on. Lastly you need true personalities. I will pay money to sit and watch Viv Richards walk to the crease. He could be out first ball, but he had a swagger and a presence about him that made you want to watch him. And I have only seen clips of him so I can imagine how it felt inside the ground.

    After watching Trinidad and Tobago reach the finals of the first T20 club championship I realised that the world needs the West Indies to rebound and bring back the colour and passion. And it needs Pakistan to resurface, full of talent as the sides of old. If the ICC can assist these two boards i think Test cricket will be back on the rise.

  • POSTED BY jay57870 on | December 14, 2010, 15:09 GMT

    (Contd) 3) Cricket itself is undergoing a dramatic transformation with the emergence of the game's shorter formats. Economists call it "creative destruction." Surely the upstart T20, paced by the franchise-based IPL, has been a commercial success. Still, it's a rough-and-tumble world and it's difficult to say how things will shake out in the future. Suffice it to say that Test cricket will certainly appeal to those nations playing for national pride in hotly-contested rivalries. Note the economic impact of the current Ashes is estimated at about $400 million, matching the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia. Even while attendance might be down in Test matches, more fans are following them on TVs, PCs, radios, mobiles and the like. Further, the intensity of rivalries is heating up. A test case: the upcoming India-South Africa Tests is a battle for supremacy between the world's top two teams. A new frontier perhaps. Bottom-line: Test cricket is alive, well and showing signs of endurance.

  • POSTED BY knowledge_eater on | December 14, 2010, 15:04 GMT

    Though, article is superbly written, but I am going to assume that it is an alarming or slap on face article to ICC. I don't agree that quality is dying, because it is very subjective argument unless proper criteria is fixed. Like 'hey you play this team on this condition for enough time, and if you are unsuccessful then we will tag you as not good enough for test'. Till that happens we can't judge. One word I will say. "THE PITCHES". Fix that, everything will be fix. Make pitches according to strength of Home team. And everything will be back to normal. This the best line "Many of us weren't around to watch Roberts, Holding, Marshall and Croft target-practising, but we did grow up with Patterson, Ambrose, Walsh and Bishop." You know what that means, it's easily possible to produce bowlers like these again, if we nurture them properly. Give Roach Green Top he will show his real lethal biting teeth. Ending was great too about OZ. Interesting. That 'thing' "R" is everywhere. Peace.

  • POSTED BY jay57870 on | December 14, 2010, 14:46 GMT

    (Contd) 2) The Ashes represent one of the most-storied rivalries in the rich 133-year history of Test cricket. The biggest reason for its enduring popularity, according to The Wall Street Journal, is that "Cricket's most compelling contest is a contest again." As simple as that. The bar has been raised every time between the two ancient blood rivals. The "six-inch terra cotta urn" may be the smallest trophy in sports, but it's older than the modern Olympic Games, World Cup (soccer), Wimbledon and World Series (baseball). Yes, it may be a weakened Aussie team, but don't be fooled: They're caught in the midst of a critical transitional period of rebuilding their playing roster. Given their strong home-grown cricketing system and heritage, the Aussies in due course will re-emerge in the race to the top. Plus they know it's a battle for national dignity: to snatch the Urn back from the Poms. That's enough motivation to keep Test cricket fever going high for a few more long years. (TBC)

  • POSTED BY jay57870 on | December 14, 2010, 14:30 GMT

    Rahul is barking up the wrong tree by viewing Test cricket mostly through the pessimistic lens of Pakistan, West Indies, New Zealand and Zimbabwe. And so he misses the bigger picture: 1) There's been a dramatic shift in the power structure of cricket to the Indian sub-continent. This ascendancy was driven by the rise of Team India over the past decade, culminating in its current top ranking in Tests. The fortunes of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh also rose with this upward tide. That's why TIME magazine proclaimed: "Inherited from imperial England, the world's second most watched team sport has become a symbol of beating the colonials at their own game. Sports heroes such as Tendulkar, 37, stand for national dignity in a way that perhaps only a postcolonial nation can understand. And feel grateful for." In this 2010 citation TIME named Sachin as one of The 100 Most Influential People in the World. Cricket "stokes the fire in people's souls" and national pride is a big part of it. (TBC)

  • POSTED BY Sportsscientist on | December 14, 2010, 14:04 GMT

    test matches take a long time. if you add in ODI's and T20, a series can take a few months. this means unlike football, you cannot play lots of international matches over a long period of time. In the 70's & 80's only west indies , pakistan, India, australia, england & new zealand played test cricket, which was fine. Also the Packer players can form WI, Aus, Pak, and a World XI. My point????.....only a small pool of the best elite players & teams can entertain the viewing public, very similar to the IPL model. If you have a 2 divisional test pool - culminating in a world test championship, you will re-create the type of competitive test matches as once before. with only 4-6 teams in the top divisional pool, each series will be highly contested.

    Aditionally their must be an adequate points scoring system - and quality pitches must be produced for every test match.

  • POSTED BY on | December 14, 2010, 13:30 GMT

    People complain about there being no genuinely fast bowlers out there and the ones that can hit those speeds consistently are all injured due to burnout. You can't have it both ways (more year-round cricket and regularly fit and fast pace bowlers).

    Teams like India and England don't have fast bowlers, in the likes of those who have come and gone with many still able to recall their names, but they still play to their assets. So what if there isn't another Akhtar or Brett Lee? I think cricket can ever match the constant gratification of other sports but that's what makes the cricket fan a different beast. Remember you don't have to watch it and many times I choose not to, but don't bring your frustration to cricket fans looking for 'cricket information'.

  • POSTED BY Gizza on | December 14, 2010, 12:40 GMT

    What a rubbish article. When one team wins another has to lose. Mr Bhattacharya just say this - the teams you like are losing so you are losing interest in the game. But others are excited. Those others are supporters of the current emerging winning teams and neutral fans who like to see teams rise and fall, then rebuild and rise again.

    It has taken a very long time for England to rebuild but they have done it. So will the Windies, Pakistan, and Australia. And even New Zealand. Give us some good news because most of us cricket fans (even Test fans) are happy! I'm pretty sure ESPN Cricinfo's is still getting plenty of clicks when it hosts live ball-to-ball coverage of Test Matches.

    The only real issues are overcrowding of matches (mainly extra ODI's), flat pitches and misplaced stadia in the case of India. But the draw rate in Tests was much higher before. Look at StatsGuru or the cricket history books. ESPN Cricinfo Writers - stop being so nostalgic and pessimistic.

  • POSTED BY vertical on | December 14, 2010, 12:15 GMT

    Hey you people should better know than crib about decline like some petty indian news channel. Please bring Mr rohit brijnath back and stop all this nonsense.

  • POSTED BY vertical on | December 14, 2010, 11:44 GMT

    Mr Bhattacharya please spread this disappointment somewhere else . Why is cricinfo allowing writers who do not even have a passion for the sport. Fellas read his article on cricket tennis and loss of immersion and you'll know what i mean. I have been follwoing and watching tests throughout this year and they were the most engrossing tests I have ever seen from india australian series to australia pakistan even england vs pakistan was awesome.Please Mr rahul why dont you go to england and settle in wimbledon and leave us cricket lovers alone...I'll switch sites cricinfo there are many good ones out there if you keep allowing football, tennis writers..

  • POSTED BY on | December 14, 2010, 11:10 GMT

    Hey guys don't worry about this article. For this year has been best for test cricket with record audiences in england , australia and south africa .And best as results are concerned with really close matches. As for the author I don't know what credentials he has for I had read his one article and cricket is not even his favourite sport its tennis he his just hanging around for the money. I also watched him on a cricket show with Ian chappel and two other guys and he was the most terrible with really lame views. So dont bother.

  • POSTED BY on | December 14, 2010, 9:04 GMT

    Why should the writer call the bad trot of Australia a decline in Test cricket itself, when the perennial underachievers England and India are picking up and now on the verge of dominating the Test scene. Wasn't Test cricket in decline when England were an ever-losing team, especially in The Ashes, where they would turn up hoping to not be whitewashed? Wasn't Test cricket in decline when India went abroad guaranteed to not win even a single test, especially in the '90s? Surely, England's and India's performances in the recent years are a breath of fresh air. These are results, which have a bearing to long-term planning put forth by their boards a number of years ago. This is not the decline of Test cricket, but, to the contrary, I see it as a resurgence where the underachievers are finally coming of age.

  • POSTED BY leslie_alo on | December 14, 2010, 8:42 GMT

    When Australia gets beaten it does not necessarily mean it is bad times for test cricket dude. Not all the teams have ever played good cricket simultaneously. There was a time when Australia used to rule the roost and thrash opponents. Now, India is managing to thwart challlenges and dominate. I dont beleive when India rules test cricket quality is lost and it is retained only when Australia plays better. I understand the author is not a big fan of the real test of cricket but would love to see hapless bowlers getting lifted over the ropes in featherbed pitches like the typical new generation. I admit that pitches of today do not crumble as before and huge scores have become a norm. This could be easily worked on by adding more grass or taking measures to make it crumble - let the homework be done on this - but not to stop test cricket!!!

  • POSTED BY on | December 14, 2010, 8:12 GMT

    Its all in the wickets that have been created. Administrators want cricket to be played all 5 days (TV advertisements) so they make some really lousy wickets. I dont recall any team making 1/517 at the Gabba against any attack. A real clumsy pitch that was. Little is left to imagination in India. Fast bowlers dont bowl fast. They bowl line and length. If someone wants to bowl line an length; then they should teach Geometry at High School. You bowl fast and you will be great if you bowl great deliveries that Arun Lal would call line and length. Jimmy Anderson, Zaheer depend on swing and guile.There are no fast bowlers left in the game. No Malcom Marshalls or Wasim Akrams. Spinners have to spin the ball. I have no idea how someone can claim he is a great spinner because he can consistently bowl a straight ball and hope they can beat the batsman with bounce. Murali, Warne could spin the ball. Kumble could spin the ball only slightly but he could spin neverthless

  • POSTED BY amit1807kuwait on | December 14, 2010, 6:28 GMT

    It is easy to be a prophet of doom and predict gloom everywhere. Personally, I would prefer Cricinfo to publish articles written in a more positive vein. Bright spots can surely be found, I cannot simply believe that everything is in decline and the picture is very gloomy. If we really are approaching acocalypse, then why is it that only Rahul can see it??

  • POSTED BY Harvey on | December 14, 2010, 5:24 GMT

    I'm not really sure what the poster means by "in decline." This year I attended the Cape Town Test (SA v England), which it was announced set an all-time venue attendance record for a Test match. I was also at the Jo'burg Test, which was easily the best attended one I have ever seen at the venue, and included at least one full house, the first one seen at a Test match there for many, many years! Meanwhile, tickets for the current Ashes for most days at most venues continue to be like gold dust, despite the fact that as recently as eight years ago it was possible to just rock up and buy on the gate for most days. There has been a decline in the quality of cricket on offer, but that's mainly a cyclical thing caused by the retirement of so many genuinely great players over the last four or five years. Flat pitches are an issue too, plus the use of out-of-town stadia, which prevents fans from popping along to watch a session. The "decline" is not as great or as universal as often made out.

  • POSTED BY on | December 14, 2010, 4:55 GMT

    This is really a funny point of view.the article's last line sums it up for me.this explains writer's mindset. However to put forward my point...every era has 2-3 high class, 2-3 mediocre n bad teams.what is new? To say now england , SA n india r doing good, playing good would be a bettr way to explain than to say they r rising because aus, nz n pak r falling. DISLIKE

  • POSTED BY on | December 14, 2010, 4:45 GMT

    NO DECLINE IN TEST CRICKET I THINK..INDIA IS DOMINATING WORLD CRICKET IN TEST MATCHES..HOWEVER I FEEL THAT T20'S AND ODI CRICKET ARE GIVEN MORE IMPORTANCE BY MOST PLAYERS,SO THE POPULARISATION OF T20 HAS DEFINITELY HIT THE POULARITY OF TEST CRICKET AMONG THE PLAYERS...

  • POSTED BY on | December 14, 2010, 4:39 GMT

    Just a result of too much cricket I guess. Overkill. Guys of Kapil Dev era used to have an off season to nurse an injury. Kapildev had two kne surgeries but so well timed that he never missed a test match. Obviously bowlers have been the worst sufferers, more so fast bowlers. Thats why 90+ kmph speedsters over 5 days of a test match are rarity these days. The only solution is get rid of meaningless bilateral and triangular one-day series. Keep an off-season, T20 season and test season, with a couple of ODI tournaments a year.

  • POSTED BY on | December 14, 2010, 4:29 GMT

    This guy should write for the Sun! Honestly, he is just a victim of the instant grat modern scoiety ills. Need the resutl yesterday, slow down and smell the grass, listen to the cicadas, feel the flow of the match and just sit back and enjoy. Philistines

  • POSTED BY harmske on | December 14, 2010, 4:22 GMT

    To the person who posted 'NZ were never really there in tests', mate the black caps didn't lose a single series at home throughout the 80's - the whole decade! Not one lost series! AND this includes not losing to the legendary West Indies. That team from the 80s was full of top class cricketers - Richard Hadlee, Martin Crowe, Ian Smith, John Wright, Danny Morrison to name a few. Although, the current black caps team leaves a lot to be desired - and then some.

  • POSTED BY Krickna on | December 14, 2010, 3:27 GMT

    This article was ridiculous. It should have been called "the rise and fall of Australian test Cricket." As an Indian, I see test cricket as booming. Just because the reign of the Aussies is coming to an end doesn't mean this form of the game is also coming to an end. With the rise of T20, the contrasts are even clearer. The subtleties of test cricket are further highlighted by the smashing in the other forms of the game. And people are able to differentiate the true form of the game from the more commercial forms (IPL anyone?).

  • POSTED BY on | December 14, 2010, 3:23 GMT

    I personally feel that Players' standards have lead to this decline of test cricket. Especially the bowlers fail to take 40 wickets in 5 days. Even after they bowl 50 overs in an innings the end up with something like a figure of 1 for 200. Aussies downfall is one which none would have dream t of. Even though the didnt have the greats like Bradman, Warne, McGrath, Steve Waugh, Hayden, Gillespe, they are in a position that they cannot score even 300 odd runs inspite the opponents score 600 and even more. Their bowling attack is much fragile so that even a debutant opponent batsman can freely play his shots... Not only the Aussies but also the other teams. India, S.Africa, England top the charts just because the other teams have declined much worser than them. Relatively the perform better. Hoping for a Aussie come back and the retrieval of test cricket

  • POSTED BY on | December 14, 2010, 1:35 GMT

    Every period had its own inclines and declines. In 1990s India were at nadir unable to win anywhere but home and were too reliant on Sachin and Kumble. England were getting whitewashed everywhere. SL prepared pitches at home that just ensured they can draw at home while getting thrashed abroad. Windies already started their long decline and Zimbabwaens were the Banglas then. NZ were never really in the picture in tests.

    In short in every era there were 2-3 teams who were playing at the top 2-3 who were getting thrashed and 2-3 who played so-so.

  • POSTED BY insightfulcricketer on | December 14, 2010, 1:18 GMT

    I am not sure what is Rahul Bhattacharya talking about. Just so happened that we had two or maybe three boring tests concurrently does not call for a broad brush sweep. Didnot India and Australia play a 1 wicket win on a fifth day just couple of days back. India SL was a tightly contested series. Aussies seems to have lost their mojo at the moment. But OZ is a proud sporting nation it is time for mice to rejoice till the cat is back at the helm. So I think this talk of test cricket being boring is a bit premature.

  • POSTED BY SurlyCynic on | December 14, 2010, 0:42 GMT

    Ayush Garg: It is wrong to say that 'lively' pitches are never criticised. A match in the Windies was called off a while back after only a few overs, as the pacy pitch had variable bounce and was dangerous. There is nothing wrong with pitches with bounce or turn, but if you go too far the game becomes a lottery and the toss becomes too important. When India were 1-0 down to SA at home they prepared a pitch that was day 5 standard on day 1, and by day 3 it crumbled and was impossible to bat on. This suited India and they luckily won the toss and drew the series, but IT WAS RIGHT that they were criticised, just as an unplayable and unfair pacy pitch would be.

  • POSTED BY sAm2sAm on | December 14, 2010, 0:29 GMT

    Such a good old trick from the text books of slighting others. To make one self look good, make others look bad rather than show what one has got. Author could have chosen more clear arguments (which are true and heavy weight) to praise England, India or SA. But rather he chose to belittle WI, AUS or PK (and SL, BD).

    Normally i like your post, but this one is out of your character and spirit of writing. The rule is simple what goes up must come down, few years back it was AUS (when India/England enjoyed lower places in ranking) now it is their time, after sometime it will be someone else (or may be AUS again).

    So the question is why this talk of decline now, why not few years ago when the teams you supported were having hay days? My suggestion, dont worry, about the decline of test cricket, people love it allover the globe, if you want to praise good performances of top teams, choose some dignified way to do that, it is only fair to well playing teams (India, England, SA).

  • POSTED BY on | December 14, 2010, 0:23 GMT

    @Uttam: Don't even bother replying to such people who do not know anything about the other team and simply make statements... Cricinfo has a very nice feature called Statsguru, with all kind of filters like Home and Away record, and u can filter it down even to last 10 years, 5 years or so... please use it to see and compare records... it will show you how incompetent or competent any country has been home and away in past 5-10 years if u don't trust the rankings...

  • POSTED BY Valerio_DiBattista on | December 14, 2010, 0:06 GMT

    I love watching and following cricket, however I now prefer to watch local amateur cricket rather than professional cricket. Test matches to me are far too scripted. The whole idea is to make the game last 5 days so that all commercial interests are satisfied. This may have been satisfactory 30 years but it is not satisfactory now. Curators always talk about getting a result late on Day 5. I find this abhorrent. Why can't they just prepare a pitch with bounce, movement and something for the bowlers. Let the match take care of itself. The reason they can't is they have to get 5 days of commerical return out of the pitch. So for me, this is a disaster in terms of the excitement relating to the game. In short, the pitches are a major issue. Too flat, too batsman orientated. I am sick of seeing sides 1/100 at lunch on Day 1. To me this is thoroughly boring and frustrating. Give us a contest between bat and ball, give bowlers their chance.

  • POSTED BY juliencahn on | December 13, 2010, 23:44 GMT

    I AGREE WHOLEHEARTEDLY. . . . . BUT WHAT IS THE ANSWER?

  • POSTED BY Kaze on | December 13, 2010, 22:48 GMT

    A while back i remembered reading an article about how Australia was ruining the game with their dominance and cricket had gotten boring. Well isn't it more even now what's the problem ? You never miss the water till the well runs dry that's the problem. Right now you have 9 mediocre Test teams with absolutely nothing to aspire to in the long term. You have India who intend to hold on to #1 by playing 90% of their matches at home or against mediocre opposition while carrying "Dad's Army", they had better hope that Dravid, Laxman and Sachin play till they're 50. South Africa are reasonable but not anyway near the past SA sides and they crumble too often under pressure. Remember this side go thrashed at home by Johnson and co. When Australia were dominant they were the benchmark, and a very high mark it was, and people aspired to them. You got the 1999 WI series, 2001 India series and 2005 Ashes. Now you have nothing and I predict a very one sided Ind vs SA series.

  • POSTED BY on | December 13, 2010, 22:29 GMT

    @trepuR: U know what the problem with making result oriented crumbling pitches in India is? They are immediately labeled as bad and unsporting pitches by whoever can't play spin and gets rolled over in 3 days... and then there is a committee setup and the venue banned from holding tests and all I kind of stuff... whereas if u make as u say 'lively' pitches, with unplayable movement and bounce... those will never be termed as bad pitches.. so curators don't take risk of losing their jobs in India and dish out a good batting wickets which will never be questioned. It's the attitude that needs to be changed before calling for a change in pitches... it is the administration which is pushing for 'good' batting wickets and then they complain about the pitches... I'd anyday prefer a 3 day test match than a boring draw

  • POSTED BY RohanMarkJay on | December 13, 2010, 22:05 GMT

    @ssm2407 who wrote "The golden age of test cricket for me was the 1980s when you had REAL fast bowlers on the scene, eg Lillee, Marshall, Holding, Imran, Hadlee - names that made you drool & had batsmen fighting for their runs. Nowadays any half decent batsman can average over 50. I can assure you with few exceptions (Sachin being one), most of today's top batsmen wouldnt have been able to live with the 80s fast men." Agreed. No doubt this era isn't as good as previous eras like that one, where genuine fast men lived. Batsman had to really earn their runs. That said the improvemnet of England has breathed new life into the Ashes, that in itself has to be a good thing for test cricket. However I agree with the author when 2 of the most entertaining test sides of previous decades Pakistan and West Indies is or has been in decline, hence the uninspiring test cricket being played around the world these days. But test cricket will no doubt recover, because it is the only game in town.

  • POSTED BY passionate_cricket_follower on | December 13, 2010, 21:18 GMT

    @ ssm2407: the rule in test cricket is 2 bouncers an over. @ the author: I don't quite agree with your points. true, there's no team of single domination. but that's actually good for test cricket. there are plenty who still prefer tests to odi (i don't consider t20 as a form of cricket!). tests would remain the most classical and technical form of cricket forever.

  • POSTED BY on | December 13, 2010, 20:36 GMT

    Australia team's decline is just a perception considering some big names have retired. I mean the Mcgrath, Warne, Hayden and Gilchrist. These four with Ponting and Waugh have taken Australia to great heights. Mind you all these guys were in their 30s+ during the team's climax. Now the Australian team is lot younger and I would give them another 5 years until they reach the full performance. Rewind England 5-6yrs, you would see they were quite an inexperienced bunch.

  • POSTED BY on | December 13, 2010, 19:49 GMT

    I hope T20 doesn't take over. I find it the most boring and predictable format of all. Tests have lasted well over 100 years. T20 is dull now after 6 and a half.

    Also - statistically, it's just not possible for all teams to be on the decline, and this nonsense about the past and the rose coloured specs people wear about the 50's or 80's is annoying.

    The only thing that's really changed is the pitches, and that can be fixed in a season - it really needs to as well.

  • POSTED BY hashabjp on | December 13, 2010, 19:22 GMT

    Well, the decline of cricket among the nations have not been due to the lack of talent but due to the over abundance of cricket being played and also due to the introduction of 20-20 and ipl. The groundsmen don't make the wicket that was supposed to be for proper test cricket because they don't have time. There is so much cricket being played that every record gets broken every day. We watch a game and be like oh that record got broken today. There were times when a record took years to be broken and that was special moment for the nation and player. i remembered getting school holiday when Kapil Dev broke the record for taking the most number of wicket. Now it seems like sachin can make what ever landmark records it still wont be enough to stay for long because the grounds are getting shorter and dont have the same energy to make a fair contest between bat and ball. Its all a batsmen game and the only person lost are bowlers and spectators.

  • POSTED BY on | December 13, 2010, 19:05 GMT

    @waqar_usa - just when I thought India has proven its status as number 1,there comes a doubter.competing with Bangladesh?Are u serious?Pakistan drew with South Africa in a near subcontinental pitch and that for you is enough to be classified as an achievement.But when we go down under,beat the Aussies at there fortress(could have won the series had the umpires been competent),we are still widely recognised as flat track bullies.We have the best batting line up,the best left arm seamer,a decent pace battery and a couple of good spinners in our team.What more can one ask for?

  • POSTED BY akasavani on | December 13, 2010, 17:15 GMT

    Priceless articles. there are so many gems of one-liners here that this one is going into my archives as one of the best articles on cricket I have ever read.

    I share the author's concern for test cricket but am convinced that it will come roaring back once the audience gets over the fad for masala 20/20. The next generation will bring it back.

    History is witness...every time you think all is lost and there is no brilliance on the horizon, a Tendulkar or a Lara or a Warne will raise his head.

  • POSTED BY waqar_usa on | December 13, 2010, 17:05 GMT

    Hi, Pak cricket really suffered in the last few years. I remember they were closing in to #2 position just few years back under Inzi. But a lot has to do with non-cricketing reasons like the situation in Pakistan and the pathetic administration. Pak has still a decent test team, won a test against Australia and England last summer, just drew with South Africa. They did not play home series in the distant past and this affects ratings a lot. Just imagine India's ratings without home series, they'll be competing Bangladesh.

  • POSTED BY on | December 13, 2010, 15:55 GMT

    Remember the early 1990s. nobody seemed to be doing spectacularly well. this is just that 20 years later..... even the 1970s went through the same period when ODIs were first stipulated...an even balance of the teams does not mean everyone is in decline. it actually calls for more exciting test cricket.

  • POSTED BY ssm2407 on | December 13, 2010, 15:53 GMT

    The decline of Test cricket is obvious & those who pretend otherwise are deluding themselves. It is no longer a fair contest between bat & ball, everything is weighted in favour of the batsman;The pitches and the one bouncer per over has killed fast bowling. The bats are heavier, the pitches are dead, no swing or movement, no test against bouncers, the outfield being grease lightning and the grounds smaller.Is it any wonder that save Steyn, there are no class fast bowlers anymore? What joy can you derive from average batsmen cashing in on flat tracks against modest attacks? The golden age of test cricket for me was the 1980s when you had REAL fast bowlers on the scene, eg Lillee, Marshall, Holding, Imran, Hadlee - names that made you drool & had batsmen fighting for their runs. Nowadays any half decent batsman can average over 50. I can assure you with few exceptions (Sachin being one), most of today's top batsmen wouldnt have been able to live with the 80s fast men.

  • POSTED BY on | December 13, 2010, 14:52 GMT

    Its time to do away with the draw statistic, make the game into an ultimatum, win or lose no more batting for 3 days for a draw.

  • POSTED BY trepuR on | December 13, 2010, 13:21 GMT

    Interesting pitches make for interesting games. I wish I had been around for the days when Indian wickets crumbled and powdered, when The WACA was literaly a trampoline, when rain effected wickets actualy existed, those days when batsmen in general sufered from severe insomnia would have been exiting to watch. Administrators need to wake up, tell the curators to make result pitches every time. From what I have read, heard and generaly absorbed, pitches are always created to last five days so that the maximum profit can be made, but if ALL pitches become more bowler friendly(especialy those on the subcontinent, oh don't get me started on the subcontinent), then the games will become more entertaining and more people will turn up, from what I've seen, the only pitches that are consitstently lively are those in England, and at the SCG. Let this be the decade of the ball!

  • POSTED BY jackiethepen on | December 13, 2010, 12:19 GMT

    Strange article when Ashes fever is at its height. So can only think this is from an Asian perspective. England is certainly not in decline. And the recent Tests between India and SA suggest that those teams aren't in decline either. As for cover drives over slogging - suggested by one comment - fans at the grounds still appreciate them. Ian Bell got a roar in Adelaide for a perfect cover drive on Day Four. It's the so called pundits that are letting us down who seem to have embraced the sloggers as Alpha Males and all that tosh. Cricketers were once admired for their skills not their swaggering.

  • POSTED BY Woody111 on | December 13, 2010, 11:25 GMT

    This article is a bit confusing; I'm not sure what exactly is meant to be in decline. Test cricket is fine - it just keeps getting put next to 20/20 with questions asked about why it's not more like it. Aus had this coming for 4 years. Selectors should have been far better prepared for it and now we look like England did for 15 years - picking anyone who can bat or bowl and using a country's list of cricketers for 1 series. England are playing incredible cricket mind you. India vs South Africa will be a cracker too. I hope blokes like Pujara get a go and, dare I say it, Laxman and Dravid are asked to step aside. Time to move on, India. Aus may not have learned it's lesson about blooding youth but India doesn't have to make the same mistake.

  • POSTED BY NickHughes on | December 13, 2010, 11:24 GMT

    What? I just don't agree with the point that because a lot of teams are on the decline therefore test cricket is on the decline as well. Mr. Battacharya seems to be pining for the days of all-conquering test teams steamrolling opponents 5-0 and the #1 international team would be so high up a pedestal you couldn't reach them unless multiple retirements took their toll. Yes, it was exciting watching the quality of West Indian cricket in the 70s and 80s and yes you couldn't help be awed by the ruthlessness of Australian cricket in the 90s and 2000s but you always knew the result: Would it be 5-0 or 4-0 if rain intervened to force a draw? Now, the test championship is closer than it's ever been. Many teams have been forced to take a long look at what they're doing and change old habits. Fringe players now have their chance to stake a claim for test hero status. Decline? This isn't the end of test cricket, it's the beginning of a new phase.

  • POSTED BY seasgaich on | December 13, 2010, 10:52 GMT

    Your article chimed with me, Rahul. Actually, I have been convinced for nigh 15 years of such a decline, marked by a paucity of genuinely top class bowling, Muralitharan apart. The past decade has seen the emergence of Harbhajan and Zaheer, then Steyn and Morkel, and more recently, Swann. Vettori is unlucky to be playing in a perpetually transitional NZ side. This void was filled until a mere few years ago by an unprecedentedly talented Australian side possessed of 2 key bowlers in attacks rarely exposed for extended periods, the outstadnding exceptions being twice at the hands of the formidable Lara, and in the famous Kolkata/Chennai tests. Otherwise, and I stress on the whole, their batsmen, from whom I would only pick Ponting and Gilchrist as exceptional, generated thousands of runs against, equally generally, poor attacks. In Waugh, however, they had a skipper who could extract maximum tactical advantage, something other leaders only occasionally glimpse.

  • POSTED BY kasyapm on | December 13, 2010, 10:31 GMT

    Agree completely with cricfan17's comments. "The constant is a love of the game and the desire to prove one's self in the ultimate form - Test Cricket" - well said!!!

  • POSTED BY kasyapm on | December 13, 2010, 10:28 GMT

    Agreed that a few teams are in decline..But to say test cricket is in decline isn't true. Supposedly-down teams have the chance to make a U-turn and surprise everyone..that is the beauty of cricket. SL without Murali and Aus without Warne, McGrath will struggle as it is difficult if not impossible to replace guys of their calibre, but it is premature to write them off. The worrying factor for the true followers of test cricket is not the decline in the quality of players/teams, but the quality of pitches world-wide (even a guy like Steyn averages around 23 in test cricket). We must have some pitches which greatly assist bowlers (I dont care if a test match gets over in 3 days - atleast we will have a chance to see the bowlers' domination!) like the perth of OLD. I hope the mentioned teams bounce back and the new teams that enter (say afghanistan) will have quality players to lift test cricket. Just hope it happens pretty soon!

  • POSTED BY D.Nagarajan on | December 13, 2010, 10:09 GMT

    The main concern is as Rahul says if the teams are in perennial decline or a temporary decline. For West Indies perhaps there is no option but to accept it and watch Dvds of the past the great 70's and 80's and early 90's. For Pakistan, there is tons of talent fortunately , if only ICC can somehow put Asif and Amir through a rehab and bring them back because they are bowlers and what has declined in cricket is the quality of pace bowling the administrators are responsible for this by making everything batsmen oriented have made one day matches very boring, T20 is just a lottery but its better for bowlers than the 50 over game.Now coming to Australia, they need to go back to the drawing board of 1986 and rebuild the team there are no other solutions for them, its unfortunate that their 20-22 yr olds in Hazlewood and Pattinson are injured so all you get are 30-31 year olds who may last for 2-4 years at best, they need a side of players who will be in the squad even after 10 years.

  • POSTED BY Snick_To_Backward_Point on | December 13, 2010, 9:59 GMT

    Before you can write about decline, first, you must define what you mean by decline. When discussing 'decline' in test cricket, are you referring to ever decreasing attendance figures? Quality of players? Excitement? What? Your article appears to home in on declining standards / quality of players (bowlers?) but then doesn't go on to discuss possible causes which is a shame. Is test cricket currently a hostage to a natural slump in quality, which, when measured over 130 years, I suspect MUST happen from time-to-time? Is it too boring in a World that seeks the false delights of 20/20 and instant gratification? Is there enough money in Test Cricket? Are flat pitches and boring draws around the World esp. in the sub-continent to blame? Do people have enough time these days to devote to a 5 day game? This article, is frankly pointless. Coming up with a main headline then ranting about decline without proper evidence-based discussion is a total waste of time.

  • POSTED BY on | December 13, 2010, 9:26 GMT

    You are right Rahul. I think while Australia was on top, it at least made for great watching. Gilchrist savaging the bowling when the score was a precarious 81 for 5 or Warne playing mind games with the Cullinans of this world. Today test cricket is sad and difficult to watch, nothing more depressiing than the much hyped current Ashes series. Imagine after nearly three decades of watching, a die hard cricket fan like me has not gotten up to watch the first ball. Mind you earlier, I had to struggle to get radio Australia on my Philips transistor. Of course there is no point in speaking about the rest of the world like West indies or New Zealand. I still have hope in the India South Africa series and do hope for the sake of the game that it turns out to be a great one, not a damp squib like the present Ashes. Who knows Australia may sudenly discover its lost touch and England might still start playing like England and then we might even watch!! sridhar

  • POSTED BY mittheimp on | December 13, 2010, 9:06 GMT

    Test cricket has not been that dull the last three years, finally there is an argument at the top - namely between India and South africa. Before that it was clearly Austrlia for a decade. If only the ICC would implemment the Test championship and groundsmen were held to account for producing terribly dull wickets then Test cricket's future would be assured!

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | December 13, 2010, 9:06 GMT

    I disagree to a point, having just purchased tickets for the Oval Test next year agaisnt India I can say that Test cricket isnt dead at least in England. The tickets went on sale to the general public mid November, and a week ago the Tickets for days 2 and 3 were in very short supply, with days 1 and 4 having limited availability. In regards to the decline in Australia, as soon as the team starts to come back to life the 'supporters' will be back, the same thing happened in England in the 90's only the hard core fans went along when we were losing games and at times the supporters for the visiting teams out numbered England fans. The other factor is the increase in ticket prices, this year for one test I have paid just over £300 for 4 days cricket, 5 years ago I would have paid about that for 10 days of cricket, that left me enough for hotels if travelling out to one of the provincial grounds.

  • POSTED BY on | December 13, 2010, 8:38 GMT

    Rahul i completely agree with your article from the very beginning to end. But i shall generalize test cricket to cricket as a whole.The reason these teams have declined is because they lack what we call a technically sound batsman a ferocious fast bowler or a quality spinner.Cricket on a whole is in a degrading.We cricket fans would love to see a cover drive over a mahinder singh dhoni's whack which is no where close to a cricketing shot.I would like to see an article that covers the very underlying reasons these teams have degraded , that is because the technique which used to be the art of cricket is getting lost and sheer muscle men are out there.The game will no longer b the game we knew if it heads this way and we will b soon using a baseball bat instead of a mangoose.

  • POSTED BY piperatom on | December 13, 2010, 8:34 GMT

    Decline of test cricket or teams? Both Australia and Pakistan have too many class players to stay in any kind of funk for too long. West Indies seems on the up. Agreed, New Zealand and Bangladesh are worrisome. But overall, test cricket is exciting nowadays. This from a guy who started watching tests only in the last 5 years.

  • POSTED BY on | December 13, 2010, 8:33 GMT

    Its a utterly pessimistic and unidimensional article!! Posting an rebuttal comment is also waste of time!

  • POSTED BY on | December 13, 2010, 8:22 GMT

    @Nadeem1976

    I agree with u my fren. T20 helps to get new spectators and thus cricket expands its wings to every part of the world...

    T20 is certainly entertaining as u see fata fat game on the go.

    Anybody, everybody can hit boundaries(have some luck thats it) even Chris Martin can go for biggies...

    Namibia can thrash South Africa....Scotland can pound Australia...

    But the real beauty of cricket is in the longer formats...Its test for a player's Skills, character, attitude and most importantly patience...

    As in T20, the result of a test match is not at all a fluke...u have 2nd chance to bounce back and show ur character...U got to get more adrenaline rush wen u know the real taste of test cricket...

    This 1000 Char space isn't enough to name a few from many of such high voltage matches...

    Mark my words, T20 the current ruler of cricketing(I say financial) world will subside and go off in time to come...

    BUT THE TEST CRICKET IS ETERNAL...!!!!

  • POSTED BY on | December 13, 2010, 8:16 GMT

    Perhaps one of the best pieces i have seen lately on the future of Test Cricket!

  • POSTED BY Biggus on | December 13, 2010, 8:07 GMT

    Can't agree with this at all. Even while my Aussie team is seemingly in the process of going down to England down under I would still rather watch this than some contrived T20 hit and giggle match. Yep, we're on the downslide at the moment but we've been in this Test cricket business for long enough to know that's how it goes. One day the rooster, the next the feather duster! What's with this talk of Test cricket dying? All the guys I know down here would rather watch a Test than anything else, so I don't think it's dying in OZ. The only reason I don't go to the games much these days is because you can't stand and scratch your head for 5 seconds somewhere without being moved on by an over-zealous security guard. Hell, when I was a kid we used to run on to the field between deliveries and get autographs from the fielder at fine leg. Maybe that's what's missing. Going to the game has become a very serious and heavily regulated exercise. Not so fun anymore?

  • POSTED BY on | December 13, 2010, 7:47 GMT

    I agree with cricfan17. Test cricket is not on a decline. People who love Test matches, still make time to follow it even in today's fast paced lives. Being an Indian, I will never forget the days I used to wake up early in the morning to catch any test match going on in Australia. Even now, I wake up a little earlier in the day to catch a glimpse of a few overs of the Ashes. Everyone says that this Ashes is quite bad. Now why is that? Do we have an image that Aussie should never ever lose? Why didn't people start crying when England got whitewashed not too long ago? Just because there is a significant change in the cricketing powers, we keep yelling that cricket is on the decline? Let us be happy that cricket, and especially test cricket is alive and kicking in the hearts of people who are passionate about this lovely long format.

  • POSTED BY on | December 13, 2010, 7:41 GMT

    Nice article. I think the main reason for decline of Test cricket is FLAT BATTING TRACKS WHICH KILL CRICKET AND TURN IT INTO AN ONE-SIDED CONTEST IN FAVOUR OF BATSMEN. And scarcity of good fast bowlers.But I disagree that Australia's decline is bad for cricket. India,England and South Africa's incline is definitely good for cricket and it is better than having everyone dominated by Australia alone

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | December 13, 2010, 7:26 GMT

    cricfan17, I agree with your stance. I think there are some fabulous Test series both recently and some that are starting. Test cricket is now truly competitive, with no dominant force amongst a group of probably five or six teams. Whilst there is no doubt the quality of play doesn't seem to be there, this doesn't necessarily mean that Test cricket is dying. This may well be an era where a bit of shrewd captaincy, an awesome spell, a quickfire hundred or a couple of mistakes can decide a Test series amongst a bore of general high scoring and poor pitch quality. However, I don't see a problem with this, so long as we keep seeing results. Dhoni has not yet lost a Test series, which is remarkable, even though his side always comes under fierce criticism from fans. Test cricket is not always about quality and beauty. That was the 70s, 80s and 90s.

  • POSTED BY wincrick on | December 13, 2010, 7:25 GMT

    Yes Test cricket is on the decline as we are seeing too many draws. The reason because ofthis is the quality of pitches. This probles lies not only in the sub continent but also outside it. Take the example of match atthe Gabba where England batted and got over 500 runs with only one wicket lost. Another examples are that of test matches at Hyderabad vs NZ and at SSC ground vs SL where there was no chance of a result.The standard of pitches must be improved and make sporting wickets eg which will have good bounce to help the fast bowlers on day one, good batting conditions on day2 and 3 and help the spinners from day four onwards. Such kind of pitches will se more result oriented test which is the need of the hour to save test cricket whose popularity is going down.

  • POSTED BY McGorium on | December 13, 2010, 7:17 GMT

    Specious reasoning. The same reasoning can be applied to international cricket at large. So, unless Bhattacharya envisions domestic T20 leagues as the future of cricket, I don't see how this analysis is test specific. Let's go through the list, for ODI/T20: Bangladesh and Zim aren't particularly threatening (they might upset good sides occasionally, but hardly a force). NZ lost miserably to a 2nd string India and earlier, Ban. Aus isn't the juggernaut it once was in ODIs. Pak and WI are competitive (better than their test avatars), but not nearly awe-inspiring. Eng is actually pretty average in ODIs (I'd rate Pak higher). So we are left with Ind and SAF at the top. Neither is what Aus was in the late 90s and early 00s. IPL isn't quality cricket either: most of the non-international players are rubbish. Cricket as a stock is plummeting, and losing out to football in its revenue centres (including urban India). There's a shortage of McGraths, Gilchrists, Warnes, Bonds, Akrams... NT.

  • POSTED BY pappoyaar on | December 13, 2010, 7:05 GMT

    i disagree with the notion that test matches are in decline. i think that even in the last couple of years we have seen so many cliffhangers in test matches, which we hadn't seen in the last decade. on the other hand i admit that the quality in fast and spin bowling is not presently up to the standard of the last decade i.e. the 90s. but the point which i want to highlight is that we keep on dissing the batsmen of today: that they bat on flat tracks against easy balling. firstly they can not do anything about the standard of the bowling. secondly the amount of innovative shots and aggressive batting which we see today was unseen previously. so in that regard they have opened up their scoring options which makes for interesting viewing and quick scoring and eventually more results. finally, flat tracks were present even in the previous decade but that didn't deter the production of legendary bowlers. remember that wasim, waqar, kapil, imran, warne etc bowled on mostly unfriendly surface

  • POSTED BY pranavcrazyguy on | December 13, 2010, 6:43 GMT

    Well written. Agree wholeheartedly. Would have liked to see something about the teams in incline though. Most people will agree that all three teams - India, SA and England - have better teams than those of the 90s or even early 2000s. India and England especially have improved out of sight. India courtesy their golden batting generation and England due to the emergence of all round talent and belief in winning.

  • POSTED BY kirands on | December 13, 2010, 6:42 GMT

    Rahul, I completely disagree with your negative and derogatory comments when you say Test cricket is in decline. I have been following cricket for 40 years, and all I can say is that the quality and standard of Test cricket has tremendously improved over the last 30 years as compared to the 100 years of Test cricket before that period. We hardly see any drawn Test matches nowadays, and even drawn Tests have nail-biting action. The 2009 Cardiff Test, the 2005 Old Trafford Test, the recent drawn Tests in South Africa between England and South Africa, just to give a few examples. The standard of fielding has improved, there is no room for lethargy. We have reverse swing, doosras, and what not when it comes to bowling. And players like Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag have made innovations in batting ( who can forget Tendulkar's uppercuts against Brett Lee in the 2008 Perth Test ). The pace of the game has gone up. Television ratings, advertisements, I can go on......

  • POSTED BY Nadeem1976 on | December 13, 2010, 6:23 GMT

    Test cricket. Why test cricket is so important. When whole world is in financial depression then who is going to watch 5 days of cricket in the stadium. Who has that much time and money to spend for boaring test cricket.

    Come on, just let Test cricket go. People love T2020 cricket and believe me its cricket, its fantastic entertainment and it has unbelievable followers. It makes multi millionare players like NBA, EPL and so on.

    What wrong in Change. Why we want to live in 10000 years back. Why dont we move forward, moving on the path were spectators wants to lead us and that is T2020 cricket. Simple, Test cricket is decling no doubt but cricket is not decling. Look at Multi million contract by indian, australian and other cricketers. How come becuase they are playing T2020. WC, IPL and T2020 domestic cricket.

    Look into bright side of future. Future is T2020 cricket. Just accept it and you will be happy. Test cricket was past, even ODI is near past and future is T2020.

  • POSTED BY jimbond on | December 13, 2010, 5:48 GMT

    Test cricket is alive and kicking. Impatient guys, or those desperate for a new topic for an article may focus on this issue, but the truth is, things dont change so much in four to six months, or even less. When we had the tests in the previous season where fortunes were fluctuating, everyone was writing about the healthy tinge of test cricket. And in the windies, only the administration has fallen. Cricket is still good, and talented guys like Barath, Pollard are emerging. Give me a team of Gayle, Chanderpaul, Sarwan/Darren Bravo, Barath, Bravo, Pollard, Baugh, Benn, Roach, Taylor and Edwards; and the best in the world can be challenged. People have short memories. I have seen very boring test matches twenty to thirty years ago, and the number of viewers were also- in numbers- much lesser then. Have some objective criteria Rahul.

  • POSTED BY Supratik on | December 13, 2010, 5:46 GMT

    A very thoughtful piece and wonderfully put. I have watched cricket since the 70s and was wondering a few days back, as to why is my interest in cricket in decline! The last 2-3 years particularly has been very dull, despite India doing very well. Frankly, there are many factors why cricket is in decline! Some of the points made by Nick & ironmonkey are absolutely valid. Heavy bats,overly batsman friendly conditions, overkill in marketing by the ICC sharks, match fixing, etc. I also feel that today the game lacks characters. The players when the get on to the ground, look like they are going to churches. Any stare/glare/word/show of emotion is an absolute no-no. Everything has to be prim and proper and everyone has to say the right words at the right time or you have had it. However, the kind of cricket that is being played is the biggest reason for the decline itself.

  • POSTED BY Longmemory on | December 13, 2010, 5:44 GMT

    I fear the title - "Decline and Fall of Test Cricket" - will prove prophetic. Its not just declining quality of teams, flat-tracks, changes that have greatly advantaged batters etc. - though those undoubtedly contribute to the present mess. Its more a matter of changing times that doom the five-day game. Even a purist like me who grew up on the fabulous cricket of the 1970s and 1980s can no longer bear to watch Dravid settle in for the long haul or sit enthralled through an entire session as a spinner gradually weaves a web and gets his man. Who has the time? I'd rather watch Sehwag blast away - and once he's out, switch off and then find out what happened later on cricinfo. If Ishant bowled a fabulous spell to Ponting, I'll catch it on youtube. We've got to find some way of compressing a test-match to about a 3-day day-and-nite affair and make it more equal between batter & bowler. Each innings has a max of 70 overs; no draws allowed. Might just save the longer version of the game.

  • POSTED BY _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on | December 13, 2010, 5:29 GMT

    Agree with this article. Its sad, right now quantity has surpassed quality. I agree with ironmonkey to an extent, the pitches are a problem and the stats don't lie in this case. I admire avkris' optimism but Ind are Sa are not in a rise. SA still can't find a replacement for Ntini and we don't see any replacements for Kallis or Boucher on the horizon either. India's bowling is borderline pathetic and the main reason they take the occasional 20 wkts is due to the fact that their opposition batsmen are even worse than their bowlers. Look no further than NZ's batting line up, who can be proud of taking 20 of their wickets? Only the ridiculously optimistic. The series between SA and Ind will be between 2 teams who have declined the least, not improved the most and it sad that one has to look forward to 2 teams that would never have matched up anywhere close to the W.I. and Aus teams of the past. Still if ICC makes the right moves, hopefully this trend will reverse.

  • POSTED BY FloydCricket on | December 13, 2010, 5:02 GMT

    I think the reason for this so called 'downhill graphs' is the exit of the legendary players from Australia, Lanka, Windies and Pakistan. If Australia falls down in ranking, that's a bad patch for cricket? Australia is going the WIndies way, after exit of their great players from Intl. cricket, even they were struggling to win. Same is with Sri Lanka & Pakistan. Look at the other side of the coin mate ! Ind-SA-Eng have been performing consistently and I think that's a good sign coz Cricket is no more in Australia's pockets !

  • POSTED BY on | December 13, 2010, 4:37 GMT

    Agree that the overall quality of Test cricket is weak.I think the idea of everyone playing everyone else every so often has to go.We need more sporting pitches-the Brisbane wicket this year was a disgrace to the game.But I aslo fear that a game built on overt commercialism and not building a respectful relationship with long term fans will be counter productive. Maybe if UDRS was used more liberally more wickets would fall;which can't be such a bad thing in this age of the featherbed wicket?

  • POSTED BY ironmonkey on | December 13, 2010, 4:30 GMT

    The main reason for the decline of interest in the game is the flat batting wickets, the increasingly heavier bats, and the woefully inadequate fast-bowling.

    A quick check on StatsGuru confirms that between 1990-2000, or indeed the previous decade, only 5 batsmen average more than 50.

    Between 2000-2010, 21 batsmen average over 50 - with 8 of them over 55. When the likes of Mike Hussey, and Thilan Samaraweera have career averages higher than that of Viv Richards, something must be wrong.

  • POSTED BY avkris on | December 13, 2010, 4:15 GMT

    c'mon rahul just because aussies are on d decline, it doesn't mean the whole of test cricket itself is in decline. why brush aside India's rise?? just wait for India vs SA series to start and u would realise that u were wrong.

  • POSTED BY cricfan17 on | December 13, 2010, 3:41 GMT

    Rahul,

    I disagree with this piece wholeheartedly. The only reason Test cricket is on the decline is because people like you say it is. Sure, people don't come out to the stadiums to watch as often as they used to way back when (when there was no other alternative) and maybe they don't watch on television as often (that I disbelieve), but that does not mean cricketers and fans don't love Test cricket and aspire to play it the same as always.

    We cannot expect the greatest players in history all the time! The decline in the West Indies and Pakistan and New Zealand is not because of Test Cricket (They don't perform all to great in other formats either!) it's their players. There are still greats in all those teams, but one cannot expect their teammates to bat like Bradman and Bowl like Lillee too.

    Great cricketers come and go, and team rankings contanstly change over time. The constant is a love of the game and the desire to prove one's self in the ultimate form - Test Cricket

  • POSTED BY vinjoy on | December 13, 2010, 3:39 GMT

    So beautifully said, particularly the lines "Is the decline of Test cricket causing the decline of its teams or are declining teams causing the decline of Test cricket?"

    And you have raised a very valid and relevant question? If more teams are on decline, who is rising? Where is the balance? Where is the 'Law of Conservation of Energy'?

    Your words are like Gower's cover drive or Azhar's wristy front-foot flick!

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • POSTED BY vinjoy on | December 13, 2010, 3:39 GMT

    So beautifully said, particularly the lines "Is the decline of Test cricket causing the decline of its teams or are declining teams causing the decline of Test cricket?"

    And you have raised a very valid and relevant question? If more teams are on decline, who is rising? Where is the balance? Where is the 'Law of Conservation of Energy'?

    Your words are like Gower's cover drive or Azhar's wristy front-foot flick!

  • POSTED BY cricfan17 on | December 13, 2010, 3:41 GMT

    Rahul,

    I disagree with this piece wholeheartedly. The only reason Test cricket is on the decline is because people like you say it is. Sure, people don't come out to the stadiums to watch as often as they used to way back when (when there was no other alternative) and maybe they don't watch on television as often (that I disbelieve), but that does not mean cricketers and fans don't love Test cricket and aspire to play it the same as always.

    We cannot expect the greatest players in history all the time! The decline in the West Indies and Pakistan and New Zealand is not because of Test Cricket (They don't perform all to great in other formats either!) it's their players. There are still greats in all those teams, but one cannot expect their teammates to bat like Bradman and Bowl like Lillee too.

    Great cricketers come and go, and team rankings contanstly change over time. The constant is a love of the game and the desire to prove one's self in the ultimate form - Test Cricket

  • POSTED BY avkris on | December 13, 2010, 4:15 GMT

    c'mon rahul just because aussies are on d decline, it doesn't mean the whole of test cricket itself is in decline. why brush aside India's rise?? just wait for India vs SA series to start and u would realise that u were wrong.

  • POSTED BY ironmonkey on | December 13, 2010, 4:30 GMT

    The main reason for the decline of interest in the game is the flat batting wickets, the increasingly heavier bats, and the woefully inadequate fast-bowling.

    A quick check on StatsGuru confirms that between 1990-2000, or indeed the previous decade, only 5 batsmen average more than 50.

    Between 2000-2010, 21 batsmen average over 50 - with 8 of them over 55. When the likes of Mike Hussey, and Thilan Samaraweera have career averages higher than that of Viv Richards, something must be wrong.

  • POSTED BY on | December 13, 2010, 4:37 GMT

    Agree that the overall quality of Test cricket is weak.I think the idea of everyone playing everyone else every so often has to go.We need more sporting pitches-the Brisbane wicket this year was a disgrace to the game.But I aslo fear that a game built on overt commercialism and not building a respectful relationship with long term fans will be counter productive. Maybe if UDRS was used more liberally more wickets would fall;which can't be such a bad thing in this age of the featherbed wicket?

  • POSTED BY FloydCricket on | December 13, 2010, 5:02 GMT

    I think the reason for this so called 'downhill graphs' is the exit of the legendary players from Australia, Lanka, Windies and Pakistan. If Australia falls down in ranking, that's a bad patch for cricket? Australia is going the WIndies way, after exit of their great players from Intl. cricket, even they were struggling to win. Same is with Sri Lanka & Pakistan. Look at the other side of the coin mate ! Ind-SA-Eng have been performing consistently and I think that's a good sign coz Cricket is no more in Australia's pockets !

  • POSTED BY _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on | December 13, 2010, 5:29 GMT

    Agree with this article. Its sad, right now quantity has surpassed quality. I agree with ironmonkey to an extent, the pitches are a problem and the stats don't lie in this case. I admire avkris' optimism but Ind are Sa are not in a rise. SA still can't find a replacement for Ntini and we don't see any replacements for Kallis or Boucher on the horizon either. India's bowling is borderline pathetic and the main reason they take the occasional 20 wkts is due to the fact that their opposition batsmen are even worse than their bowlers. Look no further than NZ's batting line up, who can be proud of taking 20 of their wickets? Only the ridiculously optimistic. The series between SA and Ind will be between 2 teams who have declined the least, not improved the most and it sad that one has to look forward to 2 teams that would never have matched up anywhere close to the W.I. and Aus teams of the past. Still if ICC makes the right moves, hopefully this trend will reverse.

  • POSTED BY Longmemory on | December 13, 2010, 5:44 GMT

    I fear the title - "Decline and Fall of Test Cricket" - will prove prophetic. Its not just declining quality of teams, flat-tracks, changes that have greatly advantaged batters etc. - though those undoubtedly contribute to the present mess. Its more a matter of changing times that doom the five-day game. Even a purist like me who grew up on the fabulous cricket of the 1970s and 1980s can no longer bear to watch Dravid settle in for the long haul or sit enthralled through an entire session as a spinner gradually weaves a web and gets his man. Who has the time? I'd rather watch Sehwag blast away - and once he's out, switch off and then find out what happened later on cricinfo. If Ishant bowled a fabulous spell to Ponting, I'll catch it on youtube. We've got to find some way of compressing a test-match to about a 3-day day-and-nite affair and make it more equal between batter & bowler. Each innings has a max of 70 overs; no draws allowed. Might just save the longer version of the game.

  • POSTED BY Supratik on | December 13, 2010, 5:46 GMT

    A very thoughtful piece and wonderfully put. I have watched cricket since the 70s and was wondering a few days back, as to why is my interest in cricket in decline! The last 2-3 years particularly has been very dull, despite India doing very well. Frankly, there are many factors why cricket is in decline! Some of the points made by Nick & ironmonkey are absolutely valid. Heavy bats,overly batsman friendly conditions, overkill in marketing by the ICC sharks, match fixing, etc. I also feel that today the game lacks characters. The players when the get on to the ground, look like they are going to churches. Any stare/glare/word/show of emotion is an absolute no-no. Everything has to be prim and proper and everyone has to say the right words at the right time or you have had it. However, the kind of cricket that is being played is the biggest reason for the decline itself.

  • POSTED BY jimbond on | December 13, 2010, 5:48 GMT

    Test cricket is alive and kicking. Impatient guys, or those desperate for a new topic for an article may focus on this issue, but the truth is, things dont change so much in four to six months, or even less. When we had the tests in the previous season where fortunes were fluctuating, everyone was writing about the healthy tinge of test cricket. And in the windies, only the administration has fallen. Cricket is still good, and talented guys like Barath, Pollard are emerging. Give me a team of Gayle, Chanderpaul, Sarwan/Darren Bravo, Barath, Bravo, Pollard, Baugh, Benn, Roach, Taylor and Edwards; and the best in the world can be challenged. People have short memories. I have seen very boring test matches twenty to thirty years ago, and the number of viewers were also- in numbers- much lesser then. Have some objective criteria Rahul.