Harsha Bhogle
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Commentator, television presenter and writer

Test cricket, we have a problem

There's no use pretending the premier format will be able to muddle through when it's clearly in serious trouble

Harsha Bhogle

June 22, 2012

Comments: 46 | Text size: A | A

Jonathan Trott eased to a half century, England v West Indies, 1st Test, Lord's, 2nd day, May 18, 2012
Jonathan Trott has been the only world-class batsman to have emerged in Test cricket in over five years © Getty Images

For years we thought India's batting would be fine, that one of the many young fellows routinely knocking runs in domestic cricket would become the next Dravid or Laxman. It's the bowling, we thought, that will be the issue. Now it turns out we have a problem with our young batsmen too, none of whom really made an impact against a West Indies side that consisted of those who didn't make it to the team that is disappointing many in England!

As a great fan of Test cricket it worries me enormously, and I know that fingers, like cowardly guns, will be pointed towards easy targets. But is it India alone, possessor of the world's most popular whipping boy, that is the only country in peril? Or is the cricket world at large in some kind of batting recession?

I called up my friend Mohandas Menon and sure as ever the numbers came tumbling out. Test cricket had an outstanding crop from 2004 to 2006. England provided Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell; India had Gautam Gambhir; from Australia emerged Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey; and the South Africans threw up AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla. Since then, only one batsman in Test cricket has laid claim to being world class, and that is Jonathan Trott, who appeared in 2009. One from nine Test-playing countries in six years. These are scary numbers.

You could argue that it takes a few years for a player to feel at home in international cricket, but you could safely assume that a player can play in 30 Tests in six years and that is good enough, as Trott has shown, or indeed as most of those in that list above did.

Since then, there have been many who have promised but none who kept their word. Australia tried Phil Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Marcus North and Shaun Marsh; England, the most blessed (or maybe the most organised?) only needed Eoin Morgan and now Jonny Bairstow. New Zealand perhaps promised the most, with Ross Taylor, Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder and Kane Williamson, but it was also a phase when Dan Vettori was their best batsman (averaging, at one point, ten more than the next best). You could go on. India, the possessor of the most stable line-up tried Suresh Raina, Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund, and are hopeful that Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara will be the real thing.

The bowlers, interestingly, seem to do better. But you'd expect that. Like women in this supposedly liberated world, they have to try harder, they have to be smarter, and they learn to survive. Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander are doing well with Dale Steyn from the 2004 batch. Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann (ignore that first tour) and Tim Bresnan are established, and surely Steven Finn will be. Elsewhere Saeed Ajmal and Kemar Roach have had their moments, and already we have seen what James Pattinson and Peter Siddle are capable of.

So what happens in a few years, when the batch of 2004-06 starts moving on? Which are the young players on the horizon who will light up Test cricket? Kohli? JP Duminy? Angelo Mathews? Darren Bravo? Umar Akmal, maybe?

England look good at the moment (but in Asia, ah well!), and Australia might revive. South Africa look strong but West Indies are still in disarray. Pakistan are good on some surfaces, as are Sri Lanka. New Zealand can't find a batsman to average over 40

You could look at this trend and do the predictable: scream at the brash nouveau-riche kid in town and paint him in every dark shade you can think of. Or you could stop looking at cricket from a hopelessly romantic angle and bring a touch of realism, maybe look at things a little more pragmatically. Or you could do worse: you could weaken one-day cricket through constant tweaking in order to prop up Test cricket. Hurting one doesn't make the other strong.

Everywhere I go, I hear people say Test cricket will survive, and I pray they are right. Indeed, I said it myself till recently. I also heard, in recent years, when India's economy survived the global crisis, that everything would be fine. Through paralysis, India's economy is stumbling. I fear the same with Test cricket unless we do something. I find that people's concern for Test cricket is a bit like India-Pakistan friendship - it stops at romance, at pretty words.

World cricket cannot live in denial. You cannot close your eyes and say, "My son is the best," when he gets 58% in his exams. England look good at the moment (but in Asia, ah well!), and Australia might revive. South Africa look strong but West Indies are still in disarray. Pakistan are good on some surfaces, as are Sri Lanka. New Zealand can't find a batsman to average over 40. And the last eight Tests that India played overseas… And we aren't even talking about Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

Test cricket needs to take a hard look at itself and, for a start, accept that it is a patient that needs attention. The solution isn't to start firing in all directions - at one-day internationals and at T20. That would be easy, would result in dramatic prose and achieve nothing.

Maybe the solution lies in playing less cricket, maybe in asking some countries if they really are committed to Test cricket. There are many sharp minds who can come up with possible solutions, but first they must admit that Test cricket, as it stands now, is on weak ground. If you do nothing, if you don't see the signs, even General Motors can go bankrupt.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

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Posted by Muhtasim13 on (June 25, 2012, 18:13 GMT)

@Electrifying Thunder, when was the last time Tamim or Shakib helped Bangladesh win a Test match? It was 3 years ago against a second choice West Indies team. Regardless of the ICC rankings, they are simply not world class players. So they simply cannot be compared with players like Trott, Clarke, Hussey & Pietersen. and just because Tamim won the Wisden award, it doesn't make him a world class player. Even Ryan Sidebottom had won the award once, but he's not a world class player, is he?

Posted by harshthakor on (June 25, 2012, 17:27 GMT)

Test cricket has deteriorated and we are virtually losing all the great players.Today we hardly have great fast bowlers,nor fast wickets which assist them.Run-making has been made too easy for the batsmen.After Tendulkar, Ponting,Jayewardene and Sangakaara,bar Kallis or Sehwag we are barely left with any great batsmen.There is no outstanding,champion test team.

However I must mention that some of the best fought test matches have taken pace in recent years,and test series.Remember the classic S.Africa -Australia test matches and series last year and their previous 2 series and the India -West Indies series at home.Almost all test matches have results unlike previous eras.Run-rates have virtually doubled.Many more results take place on the sub-continent.

What is needed is to reduce the amount of cricket played which is killing cricket.We need to re-create a new generation of cricketers.

Posted by Santosh.Kirve on (June 25, 2012, 13:58 GMT)

Stands have gone empty during a test match for many years now. But as was pointed out by the great Rahul Dravid in his orration in Australia, the Test cricket is being 'followed' all the time. Though not necessarily being 'watched live'. Test cricket has that charm to keep the 'followers' engaged not only when the game is 'live' but for years to come. So, we must realise that the traditional way of marketing test cricket is not working. Let the 'follower' enjoy the glorious game when he wants it; either 'live' or otherwise. For example, Indian classical music was never meant to attract a stadium full of music lovers for a concert. A ''rock concert' might be successful in doing that. That has not led the classical music to extinction. Test cricket is now a 'classical' version of the game and must be delivered that way. Harsha, we feel your pain! But don't lose heart. May be you are in a position to be one of the best minds in the buisness to see how the 'classic' is delivered.

Posted by RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on (June 25, 2012, 7:28 GMT)

Another typical article of Harsha Bhogle: stating the truths but completely irrelevant. First of all cricket is a team game so it is stupid to analyse the no of good PLAYERS comiun =g through and then blaming the format fot lack of good players.

To be honest test cricket is healthy at the moment simply because there are 3 very good teams in Eng, SA and Aus competing for the no.1 spot and some other good teams who will improve if their selection committees develop sound brains.

Posted by jay57870 on (June 25, 2012, 2:25 GMT)

Harsha - Bad analogy: GM's bankruptcy (& many other firms like Chrysler) was triggered by the 2008 economic meltdown of big Wall Street financial institutions (Lehman, Bear Stearns, AIG, etc). It was a Black Swan event: Nobody saw it coming. Only Uncle Sam's massive bailouts stemmed a national & global calamity. Still, GM never lost its No.1 US sales position even in bankruptcy. It even claimed the top sales spot in the world last year! That said, I understand where Harsha is coming from. Yes, cricket has a problem. But it's not insurmountable. Nor is Test cricket on weak ground. There are solutions available: One is repurposing & reinventing of Test cricket. Like GM, it can survive & thrive. Another is optimal scheduling: prioritising & rebalancing all 3 formats. Harsha talks about Ind-Pak friendship. Why not revive the series asap? That's a quick & effective solution! Good for the stumbling economy too!!

Posted by   on (June 23, 2012, 19:37 GMT)

@Samir something :- Yes my friend, Wisden player of the year. You perhaps know what that is :)

Posted by sameer111111 on (June 23, 2012, 19:10 GMT)

@Electrifying Thunder: Tamim Iqbal - world class test batsman? :)

Posted by   on (June 23, 2012, 16:44 GMT)

You have forgotten the Wisden Cricketers of the past 2 years-Tamim Iqbal & Shakib Al Hasan. Tamim debuted in early 2008 & Shakib in mid 2007. Clearly you are watching too much of IPL. Just because the upcoming brand of Indian batsmen are not good enough to play anything outside India doesn't mean the rest of the world is not focussing on test cricket. Give the new players some time. the likes of Pietersen, Strauss & Clarke did not become big brands instantly. Would you have named them 2/3 years back ? Give David Warner some time; see where he ends up. & watch some meaningful cricket please.

Posted by luks on (June 23, 2012, 13:43 GMT)

Cricket formats like art forms don't need support. The true artist never cares about money. Oscar Wilde once wrote in his time, that the reason why England has so many great poets is because the public don't pay any attention to it. Lets hope Test cricket will be like that.

Posted by   on (June 23, 2012, 9:38 GMT)

All harsha wants to say is test cricket is dying because india is playing poor!!! Saf,england,aus are doing very well, pakistan and srilanka are average as they always were,west indians were always pathetic after the greats retired, only india declined to the worst.

Posted by MiddleStump on (June 23, 2012, 7:52 GMT)

The article and many comments here are India centric. Test cricket is still very popular in England and Australia with large crowds. It is India's problem if the BCCI would rather promote the T20 circus version of cricket.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (June 23, 2012, 7:07 GMT)

So, what is the message you are trying to convey, Harsha? Since no young batting talent has arrived on the world stage, we shall throw in the towel and stop playing Tests altogether, at least in some nations as you are suggesting? The solution lies in strengthening domestic cricket with sporting wickets and providing those first class cricketers with decent remuneration so that they continue to concentrate on the longer format. And not in taking away Test cricket from nations like New Zealand, West Indies, Sri Lanka so that those players can be distributed all round the year to ever-mushrooming T20 leagues, as u desire. It is indeed the popular whipping boy of world cricket, IPL, that is the reason for young batsmen taking focus away from the longer format. But I know u will dislike any discussion on the tinkering of IPL, which makes it less attractive to the players.

Posted by   on (June 23, 2012, 4:13 GMT)

Continued: 3. Introduce penalties for loosing a wicket eg 1%of total runs deduction per wicket lost. 4. Introduce the world test championship. Let all the test playing lead to something tangible. Operate the championship with a points table with scope for relegation and promotion to test status. This will encourage other nations to improve their game & not wait on the behest of the ICC. 5. Have a running dynamic easily calculable batsman and bowler and all rounder points allocation system that changes with every ball bowled so that interest is created in players performance. 6. Make the game attractive to watch. use the colored clothes. Use the available technology for reviews etc. make the umpiring more dramatic & colourful like Phil Tufnell. 7. Play the Semi final of the test championship in an associate nation to help spread the game.

After all of this part of me still says dont mess with the game, but I'm a purest, you have to attract the new generation & the rest of the world.

Posted by   on (June 23, 2012, 3:43 GMT)

A very interesting article and some very interesting comments too. Basically Test Cricket will not attract the new generation. The age group of the test audience is growing older and the older ones are filled with nostalgia about this lovely game. But what about the present cricketing world has changed and what has changes in the non cricketing world. We all agree that Test cricket needs to change and adapt to the changing attitudes of the new society but what does the new society require? I do not claim to have all the answers, but a couple points jump to mind: 1. Games must not be affected by external circumstances like the weather. If it is a duckworth Lewis type calculation should be used to cater for lost time. 2, The amount of overs should be limited so that the game always ends in a result as opposed to a draw. Once the team batting last does not reach the target score the match is lost. This maintains the essence of test cricket as the true skill of a batsman is called upon...

Posted by LillianThomson on (June 22, 2012, 23:32 GMT)

Test cricket would be just fine if the BCCI had not rejected the World Test Championship and if the IPL was not allowed to poach players whose countries need them at the same time for Test duty. Three simple solutions would rescue Test cricket. FIRST, introduce Day/Night Tests, with fours days of three three hour sessions (12-3, 330-630, 7-10). SECOND, make both countries and the IPL apply to the ICC for No Objection Certificates for players to play for their country or IPL, but with countries getting first pick. THIRD, introduce a World Test Championship immediately, with two Five Day day/Night semi-finals and a final in England every second year. I would add a fourth rule: no country can host more ODIs than Tests in any given six month period.

Posted by hhillbumper on (June 22, 2012, 20:13 GMT)

20 20 is hit and giggle and test cricket defines more skill.

Posted by BellCurve on (June 22, 2012, 17:02 GMT)

(Continued) By setting aside 6 days and also allowing play under lights, the match is virtually guaranteed to end in a result. This format also lends itself to a world championship. I hope someone from the ICC is reading this!

Posted by BellCurve on (June 22, 2012, 17:02 GMT)

We're not asking the right questions. What is the ideal format for cricket given the nature of the game? Firstly, cricket is a team sport and every team member should contribute. In T20 too many batsmen only gets to face a few deliveries. Bowlers seldom have to bat. This robs the contest of a vital dynamic. Secondly, only by contesting a fairly large number of balls can we establish whether the batsman or bowler is in ascendency. Would a golf tournament work if the contestants only played 50 strokes? No. The winner of a golf tournament typically plays around 270 strokes. Cricket also requires a large number of strokes to determine conclusively who the better player is. Personally I favour a multiday limited overs match. For example, a match in which each team gets two innings of 100 overs each. Such a match would take around 5 days to complete. (TBC)

Posted by Kedars_DT on (June 22, 2012, 16:22 GMT)

As a true fan of test cricket, I would like to see an even contest between bat and ball. Even today an Ashes series or an Aus-SA series gives us enough thrilling moments which make us say "wow!! this is real cricket". Although I am an Indian, I wouldn't spend my time watching India play test cricket. Firstly, in India the pitches prepared for test matches are hopeless and secondly I can't see India play horribly on away tours. I am not of the opinion that fast and pacy wickets can't be prepared in India due to climatic conditions and all (remember the Wankhede bouncy pitch prepared in the middle of May 2012 during IPL V). Our batsman need good tracks at home to practice else results like India A tour of WI are inevitable where our so called next generation batsman (Sharma, Tiwary, Pujara) couldn't survive almost unknown W.I bowlers in comparatively known conditions. We don't have a problem with test cricket but we have one with the way in which it is managed especially in India.

Posted by SnowSnake on (June 22, 2012, 16:06 GMT)

I hate test cricket. Utterly useless form of the game. Sure people can tout skills etc. that are needed to play this game, but to what avail? So much emotional investment by a spectator only to see win, draw or loss in the end. As an audience, I would rather have little investment in the game and get quick results. Hardly any game in the world lasts so long as test cricket. Test cricket is more of an art than real sport.

Posted by   on (June 22, 2012, 14:26 GMT)

He is right about the batsman & the lack of them in the past 5 years that have been "world class" with Jonathan Trott being the only one that fits into the "world class" category. No doubt Virat Kohli, Darren Bravo & Kane Williamson will be world class in the future but it is worrying about the amount of batsmen that crack domestic cricket & average 50 or in some cases, 60 but fail to step up properly in Test Cricket. On the better side, he's very right about the bowling & the amount of bowlers in the past 5 years who have cracked Test Cricket. I think there will be a dominant force again in Test Cricket (hopefully England). I think Test Cricket will survive & become more popular but I'm concerned about it in India & their approach to Test Cricket. There are some concerns but overall, it will pick up again in another 5 years (batsman who step up into Test Cricket & a dominant force).

Posted by DilipR on (June 22, 2012, 13:55 GMT)

Nice read as always, dont know how much danger tests are in but totally agree about bowlers. Have heard many a time for a while now how winning in tests is 'being able to take 20 wickets' and bowlers seem to have greatly improved their skills. most decent bowling attacks 'with a little bit in the wicket' seem to be able to bowl out teams in two or three sessions, and this is what's harming batsmen's reputations i feel.

Posted by SamRoy on (June 22, 2012, 13:45 GMT)

I wish the next generation of Indian batsmen just average between 40-45 and somehow win a test series in both SA and Aus, so that they can stick in the faces of these commentators, pundits and overhyped players like Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman. What have these guys done which has not been done before apart from personal statistical milestones. Drawing a test series in SA (because of SA's weakness in Durban)? That's all... So much for their greatness...Oh yes and winning a series in Pakistan (that's probably their biggest achievement) but then Ganguly was captain and not ultra-defensive Dhoni (in fact for the first couple of tests Dravid led India). I hope cricinfo publishes this.

Posted by   on (June 22, 2012, 12:55 GMT)

I fail to understand why Harsha is bringing out that the next generation has no good test batsmen. For example, lets look at the Indian test specialist - Rahul Dravid. For the last 5 years, except one series in England he has averaged around 25-30 for most series. he got bowled 8 times in Australia which is humiliating for any batsman. His average against South Africa in South Africa is 23.

The main problem with all these cricket analysts is that unless you bat slow showing "technique" you are not a good test player, and if you do then your a test specialist. I am sure guys like Kohli, Tiwary, Pujara will do better than some of the older test specialists in our team from the past who even with their big names did really nothing outside of india.

Posted by   on (June 22, 2012, 12:35 GMT)

test cricket is not dying it dying in the weaker nations. india were always rubbish only 4 player made them better over 15 years. england, australia and south africa will keep it alive.

Posted by drinks.break on (June 22, 2012, 12:09 GMT)

One other possibility is that quality breeds quality. That is, I suspect we have always had world class players coming on the scene in spurts - there hasn't ever been an even progression of them. So we had fast bowlers in the mid 70s-mid 80s, batsmen in the mid 90s-mid 00s. The general quality of test cricket between, say, 1990-1995 wasn't as high as 5 years earlier or later. Is it an accident that Warne and Murali arrived together? Or Grimmett and O'Reilly? Or Bradman-Headley-Sutcliffe-Hammond, etc? Quality sportsmen lift their game for quality opposition. The key, then, is to put more resources into player development, before they reach first class, so that the competition is strong in FC, which will flow in to tests.

Posted by Shawshank-subhash on (June 22, 2012, 10:07 GMT)

Very fine article Harsha.there is truth in your writing and i feel gone are the days of greats like Sachin,Gilchrist,Akram,Ranatunga,Dravid,Pollock and many many more legends of this beautiful game who gave us so much delight and reason of joy.I still hope the future remains good , if not better than the past.The only solution is teams playing more and more of test cricket. Viewers like excitement and once they see some nail biting finishes they stick to their TV sets or go to stadiums.But surely one cannot stop the big shiip which has sailed i.e T20.But it still a long long way that it would become the center of attraction for this game.One day cricket could be in problem but test cricket can hold its charm only if we have legends like we had in our past.

Posted by Romanticstud on (June 22, 2012, 9:21 GMT)

Test cricket is the purest form of cricket ... it gives two sides two bites at the cherry to impress ... there are minor fielding restrictions like the leg side fielders behind square ... but for the most part you can put the field anywhere ... from a large slip courdon ... to an open field with men on the boundary ... Batsman can establish themselves by dominating an attack ... bowlers can tear through a batting line-up take Cape Town 2012 Aus vs SA ... Australia looked like they had made a mediocre 270 odd score on a batting track ... SA went from 40 odd for 1 to 90 odd all out ... Australia the made 47 ... South AFrica cruised to victory in their second knock ... then Australia looked to concede a whitewash needing 307 in Johannesburg just for Michell Johnson to come to the party with the bat ... Test cricket ... twists and turns thats what its all about ...

Posted by   on (June 22, 2012, 9:10 GMT)

Probably it is a sign of times! An evolution? Instead of tinkering with the ODI format so much, why don't the "minds that matter" look at how they can ensure that Test cricket survives?

Posted by   on (June 22, 2012, 8:25 GMT)

Harsha, sorry to say but your article has anti-Test sentiments only. The readers (especially your keen followers; alike me @kunalpraut) & the cricket followers need more reasons than the ones mentioned to believe that the Test cricket is on its journey towards the graveyard. On a contrary I would suggest that the analysts of your calibre (including @sanjaymanjrekar) must uplift Test cricket (One dayers too) with your inspired writing. Agreed, the gunny bags don't fill with money during ODI's & Test but the reason for cricket becoming an International event was more SOCIAL than MATERIAL.

Posted by vishtej on (June 22, 2012, 7:36 GMT)

Though I am an ardent fan of Test cricket, I swore to myself not to watch a Test match live in India. Just like one of the members noted here, the facilities are awful and BCCI fails to draw the crowds to the stadium. Overpriced tickets, uncomfortable seats, dirty toilets, parking problems, no allowance on accessories (Many people who came to watch Ind-NZ test in Hyderabad had to go back home because of the ban on mobile phones and this rule was not written anywhere and they were informed only while entering the stadium), making people wait for hours in long queues. These problems are fine for an IPL match which happens just for 3 hours unlike a Test match. It is the responsibility of the boards to make 'Test-cricket-loving-people' come to stadiums again and again and it is not fair to blame the public that they are losing interest in Test cricket.

Posted by S.h.a.d.a.b on (June 22, 2012, 7:06 GMT)

Well done Harsha. I would say one exciting test match (even if it drawn) could be heavier than 10 ODIs and 15 T20s. The only solution we see is a dedicated team for test matches and we can add another feature of one-inng matches, time duration could be 3 days. day/night is useless option. DRS is good addition, it brought life to the tests. test cricket is specialists game and we want to see specialist cricketers now. we r tired of watching part timers / fast bowlers bowling too many slow balls / unnecessary big hitting. Pls keep writing about it.

Posted by Hammond on (June 22, 2012, 7:03 GMT)

When I see the Ashes in Australia and England not sold out then I will worry about test cricket. Everything else was always a side show, and always will be.

Posted by maveiitr on (June 22, 2012, 6:47 GMT)

Very well written as usual Harsha. We all, the ardent Test Cricket lovers understand that the best form of cricket is going through a tough phase. There can be many solutions to the problem, some of them may be playing less cricket, giving players time for good domestic seasons, restructuring the domestic cricket logically, increasing benefits for playing test cricket, bringing in day and night test cricket, improving quality of wickets in countries like India etc. All of these have been discussed several times and I am sure if a panel of most intelligent cricket greats sit and find solutions keeping economy in mind, they will. My only question here is, do you really think that three formats for a sport played by handful of countries, can survive together with non sensical bilateral ODIs which refuse to leave us. I think apart from test cricket which should be bilateral as it is, every other international match should be a part of a tournament. And there should be an IPL window.

Posted by   on (June 22, 2012, 6:35 GMT)

If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a noise? So if Virat Kohli or Che Pujara score a century in front of an empty stadium, in Hyderabad, does it have meaning? A performer performs for the audience, apart from the innate love of the craft - and that can only take you so far. Test Cricket draws big audiences in England and Australia, not just because of the tradition, but because they treat the test-match watching public as patrons and not as cattle. When was the last time you attended a Test Match as part of the general fee-paying public? Lousy facilities, parking nightmares, overbearing security, the list is endless. Like in the movie, "if you build it, they will come". Fix 4-5 venues as permanent test venues, limit capacity to 30000, spend some of the IPL lucre in upgrading the facilities to truly world-class standard, contract with a vendor for a cross-India online ticketing system, try and fix a calendar, and watch as fans flock back to the stadium to cheer their team on!

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (June 22, 2012, 6:30 GMT)

HARSHA , TEST CRICKET IS NOT DYING . last year we saw some good matches in sa -aus series , eng-pak series , aus-nz series even wi looks competing against aussies , THE ONLY DISAPPOINTMENT HAS COME FROM INDIA . IT HAS BEEN A MENTAL TORTURE OF 5 DAYS( SORRY, 4 DAYS ) TO WATCH A TEST MATCH OF INDIA WITH NO COMPETITION AT ALL .

Posted by MayurM on (June 22, 2012, 6:04 GMT)

It is rightly said that we must admit that Test cricket, as it stands now, is on weak ground, and to make it again more popular we should try out some new strategies like.. 1)Associate history with more and more tournament like it is with 'The Ashes'. 2)Bend rules to get results out of drawn matches. 3)Every test series must have minimum of 4 matches, and a reserve day/session for each match. Teams must be given freedom to use reserve day to get results. 4)For reserve session on sixth day we can use formula like 'if runs require is less than 150 and if the runs require are less than sum of 20runs per top 5 batsman and 10runs per rest of the batsman the decision to use the reserve session should go to bowling side because they are more likely to loose in such cases and reverse is applicable with the batting side. with this method we can get results to important matches.

Posted by caught_knott_bowled_old on (June 22, 2012, 5:23 GMT)

Test Cricket can learn a thing or two from F1 and Golf. Both are 4-5 day events that come into town and offer a more wide-ranging set of events and entertainment. The F1 in Singapore is not just about the race, but you can watch Linkin Park or Beyonce! You can sit in a simulator and drive around the track. Thats terrific engagement and entertainment! Test Cricket too has to consider ways in which kids could get to interact with players, attend some sort of coaching session, play fun-events around the 5 days of a Test match to draw the crowds. ICC definitely needs to consider day-night and 4 day versions of the game. Imagine if a kid could go to a Pepsi booth where Dhoni would meet, greet and play ball with a few kids at 4pm in the afternoon before the start of a match..it would definitely draw the crowds back in. The player-audience interaction and stadium experience has to definitely be improved. Its not just about the cricket, but what goes around it.

Posted by   on (June 22, 2012, 5:21 GMT)

Instead of stating the problem which everybody is aware of and merely asking rhetoric questions as always, why don't you try and suggest some solutions? Please make a worthy use of the platform you have by writing solution oriented columns rather than just writing a blunt column by stating the obvious.

Posted by Udendra on (June 22, 2012, 5:09 GMT)

Dear Harsha, tell me why should we listen to a person who hasn't even played First class cricket?

Posted by caught_knott_bowled_old on (June 22, 2012, 4:47 GMT)

Harsha, can you ask Mohandas Menon or Tariq Engineer to publish the TV ratings numbers for Test Cricket. That would shed some light on whether Test Cricket is even relevant anymore. Tariq has published 3 cricinfo articles on the ratings for the "brash noveau-riche kid in town" but none on Tests. If the numbers don't support Test cricket, there's no point wallowing in nostalgia. My earliest memory of cricket is listening to radio commentary of Eknath Solkar scoring 102 against Clive Lloyd's West Indies, but I think its now time to move on. "Johnny come lately, there's a new kid in town...and everybody loves him..."

Posted by Percy_Fender on (June 22, 2012, 4:43 GMT)

If you look at history,after a cluster of very good players having performed for a few years,there is usually a void.So I am not surprised that only Jonathan Trott has been exceptional in the group named by Harsha.India A's below expectations performance on its tour of West Indies in the 4 day games has probably given rise to fears that the performance of key players has taken a beating because of too much of limited over games.I believe that the way a Dravid plays cannot change too much because of the limited over influence.This is true of most players.They just make adjustments as required by the format. I refuse to believe that there have been no gains for India A. Pujara,Shami,Tiwary,and Saha are definitely going to be long term players. One of them could be a great also.But most importantly, I found that there is a tremendous following for the longer version of cricket all over the world going by the cricinfo responses. A Test championship in India is what will settle this debate.

Posted by Pacelikefire_Samrat on (June 22, 2012, 4:38 GMT)

The shorter format has severly affected the skills of the cricketers.Do we have batsman who can all through the day to save a test match on the 5th day on a pitch where the ball is turning square?Surpisingly the answer is yes,because we no longer have spinners who can give it a rip.The shorter format has made the off spinner redundant,over reliance on the doosra has affected the off break to such an extent that the off break is also bowled straighter on the middle stump making it ineffective.As to leg break bowlers,the lesser said the better.The googly which is supposed to be a surprise weapon gets overbowled making it ineffective.The IPL has thrown up a whole lot of slow left arm bowlers,but it remains to be seen how effective they will be in the longer format.Batsman also take it easy now a days,they dont have to hone their skills anymore coz there no bowlers to frighten them now.Batting has never been as easy as it is now.Maybe we will have days when a tail ender scores a 300!

Posted by deepak_sholapurkar on (June 22, 2012, 4:35 GMT)

Very Good analysis of Test Cricket at current state

Posted by God_Tendulkar98 on (June 22, 2012, 4:26 GMT)

Good article though flat tracks can never produce the best bowlers but moderate batsman too!

Posted by Pacelikefire_Samrat on (June 22, 2012, 4:24 GMT)

Awesome piece as always Harsha.If the administration is as passionate about test cricket as you are,cricket will be the biggest gainer.First we had the ODI's and now we have IPL,T20'S and what not all of them contributing to the decline of test cricket.Gone are the days when players used to spend hours at the nets,trying to improve their technique.The way modern players are gauged itself makes for stunning reading.We have players who at the age of 25 are still considered young and in the process of learning!In the good old days by that age,players were carrying the burden of the country on their shoulders.These are the days when a player gets selected solely on the basis of his fielding ability,what crap!As long as a run out or a catch and making 20 runs matters more than a match saving century test cricket and cricket as a whole will keep producing mediocre players.players who are legends in the IPL but will never be good enough to play for the country.

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Harsha Bhogle Harsha Bhogle is one of the world's leading cricket commentators. Starting off as a chemical engineer and going on to work in advertising before moving into television, he is also a writer, quiz host, television presenter and talk-show host, and a corporate motivational speaker. He was voted Cricinfo readers' "favourite cricket commentator" in a poll in 2008, and one of his proudest possessions is a photograph of a group of spectators in Pakistan holding a banner that said "Harsha Bhogle Fan Club". He has commentated on nearly 100 Tests and more than 400 ODIs.

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