May 25, 2014

Is it too late for West Indies?

The board may be looking to revive the team's fortunes in Test cricket, but the players have their sights firmly set on T20
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In a recent column on ESPNcricinfo, former Australia captain Ian Chappell considered what is required to revive flagging interest in Test cricket. One of his suggestions was for a special ICC think tank to decide how to make teams in the bottom half of the rankings stronger and more capable of challenging those in the top half.

"On the matter of greater competitiveness, the first priority is to ensure West Indies get going again," Chappell declared. "When playing well they are one of the top draw cards, and Test cricket can't afford to have them languishing."

Chappell's affection for West Indies cricket goes back to the unforgettable 1960-61 tour of Australia by Frank Worrell's team and his own experiences against teams led by Garry Sobers, Rohan Kanhai and Clive Lloyd.

As his comment implies, the negative effect of West Indies' rapid decline over the past 20 years is comparable to that of Muhammad Ali being lost to boxing after his suspension for refusing his US Army draft.

Ali returned to regain the heavyweight title and his reputation. The more I observe and the more I hear from those close to the contemporary players, such as coaches and managers, and from some of the players themselves, the more I am pessimistic that West Indies can emulate Ali and "get going again" towards being the "the top draw cards" in cricket's heavyweight division, Test matches.

My concern was eased somewhat by the recent assertion of West Indies Cricket Board president Dave Cameron that his board is convinced that West Indies' value is "based on our Test status"; so too by the multimillion-dollar plan for a complete professional structure for domestic cricket, detailed in new director of coaching Richard Pybus' comprehensive report on the way forward, presented to the WICB in March.

Among its proposals are one for an appreciable increase in the number of contracted players, the enlargement of the domestic first-class tournament, and more attention to clubs and schools.

"The plan is clearly to get us back to the top, not just the top three but No. 1," was Cameron's summation.

My fear is that even if all Pybus' proposals are swiftly acted on, it is too late. Cricket's dynamic has swiftly and dramatically changed. Budding West Indian players now aspire to success in the newest and shortest format, T20, rather than Tests as previous generations did.

Less than a year ago, the board that now espouses its affinity for Tests scrapped four scheduled home Tests in favour of a three-way limited-overs series involving India and Sri Lanka, and ODIs and T20s against Pakistan.

The reasons are not difficult to comprehend. Boards the world over are now driven by commercial considerations. The bottom line overrides all else. Impressionable young sportsmen are stimulated by the examples of their role models; they gravitate to flourishing sports. In an age of professionalism, the size of contracts does matter. Cricketers enjoy the exhilaration of performing before large, appreciative crowds.

For them, T20 ticks all these boxes. Tests no longer do; minimally promoted inter-territorial matches with the emptiness of their one-man-and-a-dog stands even less so.

For five decades, great West Indies Test players and teams proliferated to inspire their heirs. Over the last two, they have demonstrably dwindled. Since the turn of the 21st century, the Test record against all opponents, except Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, is 14 won against 71 lost. Such numbers have undermined the interest of both ambitious youth and a previously passionate public, so that Tests are no longer the sell-outs they once were - except for those against England, with their hordes of travelling supporters.

In spite of their obvious artificiality, T20's concentrated, all-action thrills fill stadium seats. Power-hitting is its batting priority, variations and "pace off the ball" the mantra for its bowlers, and electric ground fielding and deep-field catching as essential as both.

In an age of professionalism, the size of contracts does matter. Cricketers enjoy the exhilaration of performing before large, appreciative crowds. For them, T20 ticks all boxes. Tests no longer do

Such attributes ideally suit the West Indian way; they were ICC World T20 champions in 2012, semi-finalists this year. Given the chance, a host of players over the years would have been past masters at it, none more so than Learie Constantine, whose all-round gusto created the distinctive mould in the 1920s and '30s.

Add the razzamatazz of booming music, pretty cheerleaders and fireworks and it is an irresistible entertainment package for a region renowned for its carnivals.

The spread of domestic franchise tournaments, particularly the Indian Premier League, now offers players global television exposure, competition against the leading players of the day, and pay packets never previously thought possible.

Thirteen West Indians have been involved in the seventh edition of the IPL, now in its closing stages. The launch of the Caribbean Premier League last year brought similar opportunities, if not quite the same fortunes, for several more.

The batting maestro Brian Lara and the remarkable, if underrated, Shivnarine Chanderpaul are West Indies' most recent Test champions. Lara departed seven years ago, Chanderpaul is nearing 40 and in the twilight of his career. Their successors are not presently obvious.

The new heroes are now the superstars of T20. Of these, only Chris Gayle, the formidable six-hitting Jamaican, had already made his reputation as a devastating left-handed Test opener with 22 hundreds to his name, including a triple and a double) when T20 internationals came along with the first ICC world tournament in 2007.

Sunil Narine, the mesmerising spinner, burst onto the international stage for Trinidad & Tobago in the T20 Champions League in India, as did Kieron Pollard, as big, strong and destructive a hitter as Gayle.

Pollard was 27 on May 12 and is yet to play a Test. Dwayne Bravo has not appeared in one since 2010, Dwayne Smith since 2006. Lendl Simmons, scorer of the IPL's first hundred this season, has not managed a half-century in his eight Tests, the last of which was two and a half years ago.

At 33, Samuel Badree, currently rated the No. 1 T20 bowler by the ICC, has had just a dozen first-class matches for Trinidad & Tobago; the left-arm swinger Krishmar Santokie, 29, has had none at all for Jamaica. Kevon Cooper is into his third IPL season; his first-class record for Trinidad & Tobago amounts to two matches.

With lucrative contracts awaiting, Narine, Pollard, Bravo, Marlon Samuels and Andre Russell all chose the IPL over the home Tests against Australia in 2012. It was an instructive precedent.

It had been flagged three years earlier by Gayle, then the captain. Arriving in London from his IPL assignment two days before the first Test, he responded to a question from an interviewer by declaring that he "wouldn't be so sad" if Test cricket died.

He marks his 100th Test against New Zealand in his native Kingston next month. In future, such longevity for West Indies will be judged through T20 records, not through Tests.

Chappell is by no means the only one who would be troubled by the thought. Sad to say, that day appears increasingly imminent.

Tony Cozier has written about and commentated on cricket in the Caribbean for 50 years

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY deverndouglas on | May 28, 2014, 20:22 GMT

    west indies need to put rules that all players need a certain about of first class games and make it longer than four days a test match is five we playing four day matches what you expect and we need to pick the right team some player have done there time time to get rid of them

  • POSTED BY on | May 27, 2014, 15:57 GMT

    I agree with the passonate comments from the fans of the game. In the Westindies, Cricket is an Industry and not just a game. Business, Tourists, the Public, vendors, farmers, school kids all benefit and participate in the game of cricket. We should be promoting cricket in all formats of the game rather than pitting one format against the other. It will take re-educating, reinvesting, reinventing the game and the process should begin now. It was the Great Brian Lara who suggested that there should be a cricket investment bond in the caribbean where the public invest into the game, this will provide Foundational Funding for regional cricket. There needs to be contests within series where someone wins a car and other prizes with one of the ticket stubs at the end of the series. This will draw interests. A major sponsor is required for the regional games.

  • POSTED BY on | May 27, 2014, 11:27 GMT

    The only reason that T20 cricket is so popular is due to the money that's invested into it. It's only natural for modern-day players to see T20 as a incentive for their financial security. There's no doubt that it is a faster and more entertaining version for people who don't understand the rules of cricket and want to learn and be instantly entertained. Also the convenience of going to a day/night match after work, suits alot of the public to attend, as opposed to taking a whole day off. Unfortunately Test Cricket is dying for some of the playing Nations and it dearly needs to be re-invented, for basic improvements to make it a more appealing version for fans to attend, but instead it's being ignored and hasn't changed a great deal over the decades. And it breaks my heart in all honesty because i grew up loving Test cricket and the great players worldwide, who laid the platform of it's legacy. Come in ICC, the buck stops with you to do something about it!!

  • POSTED BY on | May 27, 2014, 7:40 GMT

    FACE IT! Test cricket has had it's day. The format is too long for the short attention span of folks in the age of IPhones and internet. And I don't know anybody who actually has the time to sit and watch a full test match on TV, let alone attend a five day match. Also, it's true that there are not enough competitive international teams to make it interesting.

    I think it's time to let international cricket fans move on! You can still have the Ashes, which with be something like the annual Thames boat race between Oxford and Cambridge. But all the other countries besides England and Australia know that they are going to become less and less competitive in tests as their players chose T20 as the preferred format. After all, it is now the format that pays the bills for players from West Indies, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, New Zealand and even India. Unless some radical changes are made there is no going back to having tests as the ultimate format of cricket.

  • POSTED BY yorkshirematt on | May 26, 2014, 23:51 GMT

    At "Stup1d" I don't know about other places but in England the retired and jobless probably couldn't afford to watch a single day of Test cricket. Instead people take days off work specially to attend the Test match at their nearest ground

  • POSTED BY remnant on | May 26, 2014, 21:21 GMT

    The reason why T20 is popular is because talent amongst contestants is evenly spread; in the private franchise model, which by the way is more popular than the T20 internationals. Even in India the IPL matches attract greater crowds than T20 Intl.! If Test cricket has to survive it has to stop protectionist behaviour. Struggling teams like WI, BD, ZM and others; in fact all, should be allowed a certain no. of foreign players. This move will not only spread talent but also the presence of such players the matches of the strugglers would gain more eyeballs worldwide, thus generating revenue, which can take care of the bottom line. This free flow can also assist bowling teams to get a few intl. batting heavyweights while also allow nations like India to get some fast bowlers. Some financial cap per year/series could be put so it does not become a battle b/n the haves and have nots. Presence of such stars will really produce results in their adopted countries like never before.

  • POSTED BY on | May 26, 2014, 20:30 GMT

    Some how I get the felling this is like blaming your obesity to your access to sugar-rated foods !!

    1. Almost every country plays in IPL. Look At Australia they have so many of their national regulars playing in IPL and other T20's yet they are no.1

    2. West Indies earlier used to excel in 50 over cricket and that didn't spoil their test records.

    3. The better players will always find a way to adjust to all 3 format, refer the likes of Gayle, Warner, Dhoni etc, if you have quality players you don't have to worry about format.

    4. Teams that are usually top in 1 format are atleast in top 4 in others. Quality teams always find ways to perform independent of format. If you champions in 1 format, and bottom in other, then you are the only team that way

    5. If you ask an average west Indian, they will tell you that profligacy runs deep, and average West Indian isnt keen on savings.

    6. Its the culture, that reflects, West Indies should stick to 100m dash cause its quicker than T20

  • POSTED BY on | May 26, 2014, 19:32 GMT

    @Stup1d You really suit your name.Cricket began with test cricket and there is a reason it survived the test of time and stood strong for generations.Ask any reasonable player or a legend which format is better and they'd answer test cricket without a thought.No one becomes a great player through T20.The guy who's blasting sixes today will be forgotten easily by the time the next season comes around.The thing with test cricket is that it is the format that cricket's rules and the game was built upon,and in my opinion the fifty over format really complemented that quite well,but T20 is just wham-bam and then forget the next day.There is no quality to it.Leagues like the IPL are good only because they improve the financial standing of the players.Otherwise I consider them fairly redundant after a while.And before you start spewing rubbish about test cricket being for the old.I'm 20

  • POSTED BY Twinkie on | May 26, 2014, 18:39 GMT

    Randall Foxx, our gene pool has passed on the mental skills. Don't be silly! What has happened is that we grew so accustomed to winning that losing came as a shock! It seems that we have not only been knocked down but also out.We did not contemplate losing and therefore did not arrange our affairs in a manner that would sustain us and revive us during the hard times. We lacked vision because we thought the good times would last forever. Now people have lost interest. If test cricket is played with style and flair as the great Windies teams used to play it, people will watch. Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge. Malcolm Marshall. Gary Sobers, Brian Lara and all the others would draw a crowd in any form of cricket. Ian Chappell knows it and so does anyone who was around for the atmosphere of those days.

  • POSTED BY Sevarino on | May 26, 2014, 16:55 GMT

    Its Simple What are the players attracted to is money in the T20 leagues. in Order to play in these leagues they must obtain an NOC contract from their Cricket Association. In the case of the WI why doesn't the board mandate that the players in order to play in these Leagues must play in the 4 day 1st Class Season a minimum of 6 matches in order to obtain an NOC from the board. SO the best players will be participating in the games. Added to that players are charged with tasks Batsmen must make 100's, Bowlers must look for 5wkt hauls, wkt keepers must be effective behind the stumps, fielders must take catches and save runs. Failure to do so results in a player not receiving an NOC which means no T20 money.

    Lets call it PTP (Perform to Play) even if they retire from intl cricket without match practice less teams will be inclined to hire players who are not playing 1st Class or Intl cricket.

    Make them play at home no T20 money if you fail to perform for the WI or your Regional team

  • POSTED BY deverndouglas on | May 28, 2014, 20:22 GMT

    west indies need to put rules that all players need a certain about of first class games and make it longer than four days a test match is five we playing four day matches what you expect and we need to pick the right team some player have done there time time to get rid of them

  • POSTED BY on | May 27, 2014, 15:57 GMT

    I agree with the passonate comments from the fans of the game. In the Westindies, Cricket is an Industry and not just a game. Business, Tourists, the Public, vendors, farmers, school kids all benefit and participate in the game of cricket. We should be promoting cricket in all formats of the game rather than pitting one format against the other. It will take re-educating, reinvesting, reinventing the game and the process should begin now. It was the Great Brian Lara who suggested that there should be a cricket investment bond in the caribbean where the public invest into the game, this will provide Foundational Funding for regional cricket. There needs to be contests within series where someone wins a car and other prizes with one of the ticket stubs at the end of the series. This will draw interests. A major sponsor is required for the regional games.

  • POSTED BY on | May 27, 2014, 11:27 GMT

    The only reason that T20 cricket is so popular is due to the money that's invested into it. It's only natural for modern-day players to see T20 as a incentive for their financial security. There's no doubt that it is a faster and more entertaining version for people who don't understand the rules of cricket and want to learn and be instantly entertained. Also the convenience of going to a day/night match after work, suits alot of the public to attend, as opposed to taking a whole day off. Unfortunately Test Cricket is dying for some of the playing Nations and it dearly needs to be re-invented, for basic improvements to make it a more appealing version for fans to attend, but instead it's being ignored and hasn't changed a great deal over the decades. And it breaks my heart in all honesty because i grew up loving Test cricket and the great players worldwide, who laid the platform of it's legacy. Come in ICC, the buck stops with you to do something about it!!

  • POSTED BY on | May 27, 2014, 7:40 GMT

    FACE IT! Test cricket has had it's day. The format is too long for the short attention span of folks in the age of IPhones and internet. And I don't know anybody who actually has the time to sit and watch a full test match on TV, let alone attend a five day match. Also, it's true that there are not enough competitive international teams to make it interesting.

    I think it's time to let international cricket fans move on! You can still have the Ashes, which with be something like the annual Thames boat race between Oxford and Cambridge. But all the other countries besides England and Australia know that they are going to become less and less competitive in tests as their players chose T20 as the preferred format. After all, it is now the format that pays the bills for players from West Indies, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, New Zealand and even India. Unless some radical changes are made there is no going back to having tests as the ultimate format of cricket.

  • POSTED BY yorkshirematt on | May 26, 2014, 23:51 GMT

    At "Stup1d" I don't know about other places but in England the retired and jobless probably couldn't afford to watch a single day of Test cricket. Instead people take days off work specially to attend the Test match at their nearest ground

  • POSTED BY remnant on | May 26, 2014, 21:21 GMT

    The reason why T20 is popular is because talent amongst contestants is evenly spread; in the private franchise model, which by the way is more popular than the T20 internationals. Even in India the IPL matches attract greater crowds than T20 Intl.! If Test cricket has to survive it has to stop protectionist behaviour. Struggling teams like WI, BD, ZM and others; in fact all, should be allowed a certain no. of foreign players. This move will not only spread talent but also the presence of such players the matches of the strugglers would gain more eyeballs worldwide, thus generating revenue, which can take care of the bottom line. This free flow can also assist bowling teams to get a few intl. batting heavyweights while also allow nations like India to get some fast bowlers. Some financial cap per year/series could be put so it does not become a battle b/n the haves and have nots. Presence of such stars will really produce results in their adopted countries like never before.

  • POSTED BY on | May 26, 2014, 20:30 GMT

    Some how I get the felling this is like blaming your obesity to your access to sugar-rated foods !!

    1. Almost every country plays in IPL. Look At Australia they have so many of their national regulars playing in IPL and other T20's yet they are no.1

    2. West Indies earlier used to excel in 50 over cricket and that didn't spoil their test records.

    3. The better players will always find a way to adjust to all 3 format, refer the likes of Gayle, Warner, Dhoni etc, if you have quality players you don't have to worry about format.

    4. Teams that are usually top in 1 format are atleast in top 4 in others. Quality teams always find ways to perform independent of format. If you champions in 1 format, and bottom in other, then you are the only team that way

    5. If you ask an average west Indian, they will tell you that profligacy runs deep, and average West Indian isnt keen on savings.

    6. Its the culture, that reflects, West Indies should stick to 100m dash cause its quicker than T20

  • POSTED BY on | May 26, 2014, 19:32 GMT

    @Stup1d You really suit your name.Cricket began with test cricket and there is a reason it survived the test of time and stood strong for generations.Ask any reasonable player or a legend which format is better and they'd answer test cricket without a thought.No one becomes a great player through T20.The guy who's blasting sixes today will be forgotten easily by the time the next season comes around.The thing with test cricket is that it is the format that cricket's rules and the game was built upon,and in my opinion the fifty over format really complemented that quite well,but T20 is just wham-bam and then forget the next day.There is no quality to it.Leagues like the IPL are good only because they improve the financial standing of the players.Otherwise I consider them fairly redundant after a while.And before you start spewing rubbish about test cricket being for the old.I'm 20

  • POSTED BY Twinkie on | May 26, 2014, 18:39 GMT

    Randall Foxx, our gene pool has passed on the mental skills. Don't be silly! What has happened is that we grew so accustomed to winning that losing came as a shock! It seems that we have not only been knocked down but also out.We did not contemplate losing and therefore did not arrange our affairs in a manner that would sustain us and revive us during the hard times. We lacked vision because we thought the good times would last forever. Now people have lost interest. If test cricket is played with style and flair as the great Windies teams used to play it, people will watch. Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge. Malcolm Marshall. Gary Sobers, Brian Lara and all the others would draw a crowd in any form of cricket. Ian Chappell knows it and so does anyone who was around for the atmosphere of those days.

  • POSTED BY Sevarino on | May 26, 2014, 16:55 GMT

    Its Simple What are the players attracted to is money in the T20 leagues. in Order to play in these leagues they must obtain an NOC contract from their Cricket Association. In the case of the WI why doesn't the board mandate that the players in order to play in these Leagues must play in the 4 day 1st Class Season a minimum of 6 matches in order to obtain an NOC from the board. SO the best players will be participating in the games. Added to that players are charged with tasks Batsmen must make 100's, Bowlers must look for 5wkt hauls, wkt keepers must be effective behind the stumps, fielders must take catches and save runs. Failure to do so results in a player not receiving an NOC which means no T20 money.

    Lets call it PTP (Perform to Play) even if they retire from intl cricket without match practice less teams will be inclined to hire players who are not playing 1st Class or Intl cricket.

    Make them play at home no T20 money if you fail to perform for the WI or your Regional team

  • POSTED BY krik8crazy on | May 26, 2014, 15:32 GMT

    I love test cricket and think it is the best format among the three but I understand that its popularity is the lowest. Though I am not a fan of T-20, I like the fact that it opens avenues to so many cricketers instead of just 11. Cricketers are what make cricket appealing. If they like T-20 format because it helps them the most in terms of securing a livelihood and financial security, then so be it. As far as West Indies is concerned - even if it is just T-20 that they are interested in, I am happy to see interest for cricket revived in the region. In fact, the money brought in by T-20 can subsidize test cricket which by itself is not financially sustainable.

  • POSTED BY WalkingWicket11 on | May 26, 2014, 15:10 GMT

    Why does everyone sound so desperate to "save Test cricket"? The old has to make way for the new, that is the rule of nature. If Test cricket isn't good enough, it will die its own death. Test cricket may be good enough for the retired and jobless, who have nothing better to do than "appreciate" the beauty of one-sided contests and boring draws, which majority of the Test matches are.

    Sure, once in a blue moon, an "exciting" Test match happens, but the boring matches than one has to put up with is too big a price to pay. Before you start yelling at me how "exciting" an Ashes series is, take one look at the scorelines of the last 20 editions. There have been a grand total of 4 (Four) series, where the winning margin was one Test.

  • POSTED BY kentjones on | May 26, 2014, 12:05 GMT

    @Sahil Vaidya. It has to be. Check the most popular sports today, football, basketball to name a few, the best players in these are all multi-millionaires. In other words the finances generated in the game allows these players to be paid handsomely and attracts youngsters in droves to dream to become just as successful. If cricket can pay similar salaries, (T20 is beginning to do that), the youths will become attracted. Also finances can pay for expanded facilities, cricket academies, coaches, and administrators and restructuring of the game for the present and future. Finances can pay for marketing strategies to attract the cricket fan back to the game. Popularity is just a function of widespread marketing, thorough public relations and proper game sell. Get the game into the living rooms of the public: TV and cricket streaming web sites on the internet for the youths on their smartphones. There are available professionals who can get the job done for a price: Financing is the answer.

  • POSTED BY on | May 26, 2014, 11:17 GMT

    @kentjones Financing is not the only problem. Popularity is definitely one of the most critical issues. Unless people truly start enjoying this form of game, we can boost its popularity and demand only to some extent (which is definitely not sufficient for its revival). Are there any other possible solutions that anybody has thought of?

  • POSTED BY kentjones on | May 26, 2014, 10:47 GMT

    @Puffin @Nadisha Jayasinghe. Puffin I have to agree wholeheartedly with NJayasinghe here.The so-called gap is not on the cricket field.Certainly SLC and Pak, and to a lesser extent NZ are very competitive in all formats.WI is is not competitive in the test but certainly are so in the limited overs format.The availability of finances to administer their game is where the gap lies and is hurting the rest of nations outside the big boys.Ways and means must be found to generate finances for their game.I have suggested that the popularity of the T20 game be exploited fully to get the finances for the other areas like the first class game and coaching.Organize a major T20 league in their territory and also have several T20 cricket fiestas spread over the year where prominent cricketing nations are invited to play.If these are properly planned, like over long holiday weekends or during vacation periods, support from the fans could be maximised.Instead of moans and cries lets strategize!!!

  • POSTED BY SuperScorebox on | May 26, 2014, 10:42 GMT

    A minor technical point to add to an otherwise unarguable case made by Tony Cozier - Chris Gayle has two Test match triple hundreds, putting him in a highly elite band of players in the history of the game.

  • POSTED BY Cool_Jeeves on | May 26, 2014, 9:42 GMT

    1) very important topic, but Cozier is clearly frustrated and not thinking clearly. Santokie would not make it even to the Bangladeshi test team. Lamenting that he has not played first class cricket is pointless. It is very encouraging that bits and pieces players like him are succeeding in T20 since it proves that it is increasingly a game distinct from test cricket, and over time, perhaps will morph to something like baseball, which does not threaten test cricket, but is simply a different game.

    2) solution to reviving WI is simple. Institute a US$20m annual purse for the top ranked test team. That will solve all problems of all teams including Windies. Dont forget to inflation index the purse.

  • POSTED BY archibalbinbusassolin on | May 26, 2014, 1:49 GMT

    Test cricket will always be here and should never be allowed to die. Here is a suggestion. SELL TEST CRICKET TO THE LARGE CORPORATION AS A FRANCHISE, BUT ONLY ON A TEN YEAR RENEWABLE CONTRACT, BY TEAM.

  • POSTED BY Herath-UK on | May 26, 2014, 0:05 GMT

    This is a problem not wholly reserved to WI but matters to other nations too . However it is apparent that there is a marked lack of passion to play for the country from WI players. Sangakkara case is a very good example,he last year chose Sri Lankan domestic team over the IPL team for the champion league losing a large cash of price money & not to be one off declined IPL this year to come & play for Durham because of Sri Lanka's tour to UK.When one such iconic player set the example no wonder it improves the passion for the country in other Sri Lankan players too. Chandimal,Dilshan all have done this before choosing country over money.For that matter Gayle looks quite the opposite as you say.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | May 26, 2014, 0:04 GMT

    Test cricket has become what it is today not becuse of t20 .Rules/ laws like two bouncers in an over ,thicker bats and the way lbw are judge to name a few has led to an imbalance between bat and ball which leads to meaningless drawn games .

  • POSTED BY WeldonHosten on | May 25, 2014, 23:06 GMT

    When there was nothing else Test Cricket reigned supreme. Then came One Day cricket and that change the dynamics, more spectators to the games, more sponsors and more importantly better strategy by the teams leading to an exciting finish in ONE DAY!. With the inception of 20/20 cricket, new blood has been bought to cricket the world over. In addition to the money and huge corporate sponsors, 20/20 has brought its own supporters to the game eclipsing that of test and one day and that is what I believe is more attractive to the players. Playing to full stadiums packed to capacity for 3 hrs where spectators are very much involved with every aspect of the game is priceless. Attracting and sustaining that support for 5 straight days is unachievable in test anyway today. What test cricket needs is to evolve from a gladiator sport into a modern sport that can finish in one day. Why not has a structure where a test match will comprise of 4 innings of 20 overs? That will be a good place to star

  • POSTED BY kentjones on | May 25, 2014, 22:24 GMT

    Mr. Cozier my thanks for a wonderful article.I do not think that it is too late for the WI. Using a SWOT analysis the following is revealed: Strengths, outstanding past players and a great heritage, Weaknesses, lack of structure, finances and short first class season, Opportunities,T20 with its tremendous appeal,Threats, steady decline in interest in the game,youths turning to other sports. Solution: use the T20 leagues to inject interest and gain needed finances.Use money to expand the first class game. Expand coaching programs to reach the youths, and use past players to assist and attract players and interest in the game.Wes Hal Youth Cricket League in 1966 revived and propelled Trinidad cricket.Aggressive measures must be used to attract players and then to nurture guide and coach them from as young as 8 to 10 years old through a variety of means, summer camps, coaching clinics, involving individual govts in territories.It can be done.Instead of moans and cries lets strategize!!!

  • POSTED BY on | May 25, 2014, 22:09 GMT

    @Puffin, In limited overs, that is simply not true, Pakistan and Sri Lanka challenge the big four all the time, Pakistan in test cricket and especially Sri Lanka in ODI cricket, I mean how in gods name can you say that the sport is dominated by the big four ,when only one of the big four have won limited over competitions in the last 4 years? Sri Lanka and West Indies won the last two World twenty20s,Australia and South Africa did not make it to the semi-finals of the world twenty20 or the champions trophy in recent times. England haven't won a tournament since 2010, Australia 2009. South Africa since 1998 (in fact from memory they've only made the semis a handful times this century as well not a single final!) West Indies won the 2004 Champions trophy, finalist in 2006 champions trophy, semi-finalist in2009 twenty20, winner 2012 twenty20 and semi-finalist of the 2014 twenty20. New Zealand have been making semi-finals regularly, in the last two world cups Sri Lanka have been finalist.

  • POSTED BY ThinkingCricket on | May 25, 2014, 19:46 GMT

    @ Kingman75: This is blatantly untrue. Plenty of Test Greats, Pujara, Steyn, Kallis to name a few have been absolutely useless at this IPL, whereas T20 experts have been amazing. It's a different set of skills, not just something 'anyone can do'. If that was the case, no one would be paying Narine and Maxwell millions if anyone could replicate their feats.

  • POSTED BY Puffin on | May 25, 2014, 15:42 GMT

    There's a bigger problem with cricket, particularly Test cricket: it's that the same 3-4 teams have been at the top for several years now and that leaves the rest going nowhere. I can't honestly see that changing unless one of the lower teams suddenly unearths a rich seam of talent. The odd brilliant player isn't enough anymore to get them moving upwards and out of this pattern we seem to be stuck with.

    It's like the English premier league, nobody but the big teams ever wins the title these days. The gap between top and bottom is ever widening.

  • POSTED BY Natx on | May 25, 2014, 13:25 GMT

    Good article but it truly reflects the state of things for test cricket. There are some good suggestions like the ones from @remnant to keep it floating. Also the length of the game must come down. No one has the patience to watch the matches over 5 days in the these days as the life has become mechanical and people are on the move faster than ever. The first thing one can do is to cut a day off and make it 4 days as basically there are 4 innings. Or even better make it a 2 day event with 50 over each per side and be done with it. Play them on weekends. That way one can get rid of the meaningless 1 day matches and just 2 formats will remain. T20 - the base ball style 4 hour game. 2 day test cricket - with enough balance between bat and ball over 2 innings for the 2 teams and with definite result. Plus the option of hosting them on weekends will give something for both the spectators and the hosting authorities.

  • POSTED BY Kingman75 on | May 25, 2014, 13:09 GMT

    The problem with T20 is that anyone can play it. It requires no skill, no fitness and no heart. I could get into any international team and contribute. In fact, my lack of pace would be a bonus to my captain since batsmen would find it hard to get me away. And I only have to bowl on average 3 overs and won't need to bat and that's it.

  • POSTED BY electric_loco_WAP4 on | May 25, 2014, 11:15 GMT

    Another superb article by Cozier in his typically simple style and v much realistic,hard facts pertaining to WI cricket.And coming from him no 1 can argue that the shambles that is WI,there is no hope left and esp. tests in WI is near end. A harsh truth.

  • POSTED BY on | May 25, 2014, 10:53 GMT

    If test cricket is dying its natural death then let it die peacefully, why attack and abuse T20 cricket for this? The few test lovers are only hastening the death of test cricket by pouring abuse, bile on T-20 cricket and thus further alienating young cricket fans.

  • POSTED BY sameeullah on | May 25, 2014, 10:40 GMT

    why media want to push someone in test cricket if one don't want to play test cricket. what it will take if we have specialist for format we don't care who prefers whatever format.. I don't buy that at one end west Indians want to be 1# test team on other hand they are not willing to host test matches. its Administrators fault if they can't sell test cricket. why we are wasting time and money to just show that we want test cricket but we can't sale it. First of l west indies and other nations broads needs good marketing team for sailing product. if they can't then stop playing that is. i don't see compromise on money from admins for sake of test cricket. common get good players for all formats spend some money.there are thousands of players and u need to find only around 50.give them contracts.

  • POSTED BY on | May 25, 2014, 10:04 GMT

    I think if test cricket is dying, then let it have a natural death. Go with the times.

  • POSTED BY ODI_BestFormOfCricket on | May 25, 2014, 9:54 GMT

    t20 is accepted by new world generation, so test cricket has to die.

  • POSTED BY on | May 25, 2014, 9:33 GMT

    I am sorry to say this, but I haven't seen any improvement in WI Cricket after the retirements of Walsh and Ambrose. They have been struggling to compete against the best for over a decade. Their batting line-up is average and their bowling is ordinary. They haven't produced a great test batsman after Chanders and the new generation of cricketers doesn't look too impressive. Their fast bowling, once feared by the best of batsmen around the world, is hardly threatening. They now rely more and more on spin bowling and even guys like Narine and Shillingford are mediocre in tests. I don't know how they can get back to the top again. Things surely don't look good at the moment.

  • POSTED BY remnant on | May 25, 2014, 9:07 GMT

    Why can't Test cricket have its own premier leagues and become franchise owned or at least stake-holdered. That might actually give it a new lease of life. Better coopt the private franchise model rather than try to keep trying to turn sick public sector units into profit makers that they in their lives will not be able to.

  • POSTED BY ThinkingCricket on | May 25, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/375397.html

    Years ago, Tony Cozier spoke of the need for a balance between the formats. Nothing could be more true, but it has to be a real balance, not a balance based on one format being presumed to be superior, even though data indicates that the vast majority prefers the other.

    Balance does not simply mean equal money and time devoted to it, but equal respect too. The hate and disrespect showed to T-20 by Test traditionalists, is proving counter-productive, alienating those who prefer T-20, and above all harming Tests, by creating an environment where people are feeling forced to make a choice between the two.

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | May 25, 2014, 8:52 GMT

    I remain hopeful for WI cricket fortunes. The biggest problem has been the vacuum of leadership (board) over this period . Most WI fans know we play too little cricket in this modern era . Just look back at those who played for the test team over this " decline period" most were not even close to being ready for 1st class cricket ...something that persist today .

  • POSTED BY ThinkingCricket on | May 25, 2014, 8:48 GMT

    @ Sir_Francis:

    What is needed are fans who want CRICKET to thrive, and not simply conflate that with either their favourite format thriving, or with bottom-lines doing well, but actually cricket thriving.

    The saddest thing is that this issue literally splits cricket fans who are talking past each other. Old-timers keep insisting that Tests 'are the pinnacle' and must be given more respect and priority, even if only a few want to watch Tests. They keep putting down good T-20 players as 'hacks', 'sloggers' and 'mercenaries' and insist that those who think otherwise are immature (see countless analogies about books, music, relationships, when describing Test vs T-20).

    This defensive reaction to put down T-20 just alienates people who like T-20. I like Test Cricket too, but it's simply because of this sort of strident reaction, that I feel a reflexive sense of joy whenever a Test series is scrapped for T-20, or I see players making T-20 their priority.

  • POSTED BY delboy on | May 25, 2014, 8:45 GMT

    There is a simple solution. The WI board must value all its contracted "professional" players and be prepared to match any franchise fee offered to the if they want players to opt for representing their country ahead of taking up a franchise offer. It might not be possible for the board to compete with the offer of franchises however; these players can surely negotiate a deal which see the monies paid in tranches way into their retirement or to their beneficiaries..

  • POSTED BY Sir_Francis on | May 25, 2014, 8:08 GMT

    Firstly, to fayyazo3. Your statement, "So what if test cricket dies. Cricket is going to stay." Well you are obviously very young and much more sensible than an old person like me who is, unfortunately, a cricket tragic. The lost of Test cricket would be like a very serious - maybe life threatening illness (exaggeration? No. less than 4 weeks ago I had major surgery for cancer. I was born severely disabled. Lost count of all the operations, illness - some life threatening, I've had - Test cricket has been one of those things I needed to continue on - as silly as that sounds. There is also family, friends, music, books etc. too). Anyway, to my actual point. WI don't have to worry. It's clear the younger and I assume, future generations will prefer the more lucrative and eaiser 20/20 over FC cricket. With my health I may be lucky and not witness the end of Tests but they are dead. It's just a matter of time and if the majority think like fayyazo3 then there will be nothing to worry about

  • POSTED BY V_for on | May 25, 2014, 7:15 GMT

    Whilst Mr Cozier's fears are valid, the situation is not as bad as he makes out. Ony recently we have read interviews with Keiron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo in which they have made clear their views that test cricket is the pinnacle. But the Board refuses to select Pollard and has shelved Bravo for the past 4years. Consider also that the young West Indian typically does not have the maturity, concentration or application for the longer format of the game (Marlon Samuels is a prime example of this) save for exceptional talents. Would it be so bad if a young player spent the first 5years or so of his career playing t20 around the world? There are obvious positives - he would secure his future financially, get exposed to conditions around he world, meet experienced professionals - then can make the move to test cricket with a renewed hunger. This approach would require a certain understanding from the Board but it is not exactly a quantum leap.

  • POSTED BY on | May 25, 2014, 7:05 GMT

    Gayle and co can have their 20/20. Real fans, real cricketers and history will only recognise Test cricket as the format that matters as the true test of skill. Replace West Indies in the test format with another Asian nation, the quicker the better. Australia, England and South Africa Test contests are so superior in quality to any 20/20 that it's laughable. It's obvious that the West Indies players don't have the heart or more importantly the mental skill to compete with real cricketers... Test Cricketers.

  • POSTED BY fayyaz03 on | May 25, 2014, 6:08 GMT

    Nothing to worry about. So what if test cricket dies. Cricket is going to stay. Who cares for that old format now? We humans are required to change with time. The life is getting faster. So as per human nature, test cricket has to go sooner or later. Do we have to still rub the stones to lit the fire when we are having lighter? Just Think

  • POSTED BY Kingman75 on | May 25, 2014, 5:53 GMT

    The author knows it, we all know it. The West Indies will never be a force in test cricket again. Not while they focus assets on T20. Only Australia, South Africa and England truly contest test cricket dominance now.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | May 25, 2014, 5:11 GMT

    Sounds like it is too late. As a 57yo Aussie I can say the WI players of the 60s to 80s were household names. It is sad. On the positive side T20 should keep the next generations of people in the Carribean engaged with cricket for the next 100 years and that is better than 'losing' them to US sports. That drift had started.

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | May 25, 2014, 5:04 GMT

    It's hard for countries like Windies, India to promote tests because they are not the best at the formats. They support T20 because they are the better teams in that format.

  • POSTED BY punterdgr8 on | May 25, 2014, 4:45 GMT

    well,it's the wi.they r never goin to make a mark in tests hereafter esp.in the era of ever proliferating t20 leagues.the reality will strike hard on them when they replicate their present test form in the t20s.then their players will be less sellable.maybe then they might start taking tests seriously.oh hang on!may be then they'll give up cricket once and for all.hard to witness the dilapidation of a once formidable empire.commiserations to the legends!!!!!!

  • POSTED BY InsideHedge on | May 25, 2014, 4:33 GMT

    As ever, an instructive and superbly written piece by Tony Cozier.

  • POSTED BY on | May 25, 2014, 4:26 GMT

    I hated 20/20 cricket when it arrived on the scene and I hate it even more now. Test cricket - the ultimate form of the game - cannot be allowed to die, it simply cant. But this 20/20 rubbish has come, and hopefully wont stay : with any luck people will tire of it, and with boundaries basically the norm already practically every ball and no room for the ebbs and flows and romanticism of the longer 5-day format hopefully people will come to realize that there is simply no substance whatsoever to 20/20 cricket, and that indeed a blossoming relationship is far more rewarding than a fruitless one-night-stand (now where did that come from??).

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  • POSTED BY on | May 25, 2014, 4:26 GMT

    I hated 20/20 cricket when it arrived on the scene and I hate it even more now. Test cricket - the ultimate form of the game - cannot be allowed to die, it simply cant. But this 20/20 rubbish has come, and hopefully wont stay : with any luck people will tire of it, and with boundaries basically the norm already practically every ball and no room for the ebbs and flows and romanticism of the longer 5-day format hopefully people will come to realize that there is simply no substance whatsoever to 20/20 cricket, and that indeed a blossoming relationship is far more rewarding than a fruitless one-night-stand (now where did that come from??).

  • POSTED BY InsideHedge on | May 25, 2014, 4:33 GMT

    As ever, an instructive and superbly written piece by Tony Cozier.

  • POSTED BY punterdgr8 on | May 25, 2014, 4:45 GMT

    well,it's the wi.they r never goin to make a mark in tests hereafter esp.in the era of ever proliferating t20 leagues.the reality will strike hard on them when they replicate their present test form in the t20s.then their players will be less sellable.maybe then they might start taking tests seriously.oh hang on!may be then they'll give up cricket once and for all.hard to witness the dilapidation of a once formidable empire.commiserations to the legends!!!!!!

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | May 25, 2014, 5:04 GMT

    It's hard for countries like Windies, India to promote tests because they are not the best at the formats. They support T20 because they are the better teams in that format.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | May 25, 2014, 5:11 GMT

    Sounds like it is too late. As a 57yo Aussie I can say the WI players of the 60s to 80s were household names. It is sad. On the positive side T20 should keep the next generations of people in the Carribean engaged with cricket for the next 100 years and that is better than 'losing' them to US sports. That drift had started.

  • POSTED BY Kingman75 on | May 25, 2014, 5:53 GMT

    The author knows it, we all know it. The West Indies will never be a force in test cricket again. Not while they focus assets on T20. Only Australia, South Africa and England truly contest test cricket dominance now.

  • POSTED BY fayyaz03 on | May 25, 2014, 6:08 GMT

    Nothing to worry about. So what if test cricket dies. Cricket is going to stay. Who cares for that old format now? We humans are required to change with time. The life is getting faster. So as per human nature, test cricket has to go sooner or later. Do we have to still rub the stones to lit the fire when we are having lighter? Just Think

  • POSTED BY on | May 25, 2014, 7:05 GMT

    Gayle and co can have their 20/20. Real fans, real cricketers and history will only recognise Test cricket as the format that matters as the true test of skill. Replace West Indies in the test format with another Asian nation, the quicker the better. Australia, England and South Africa Test contests are so superior in quality to any 20/20 that it's laughable. It's obvious that the West Indies players don't have the heart or more importantly the mental skill to compete with real cricketers... Test Cricketers.

  • POSTED BY V_for on | May 25, 2014, 7:15 GMT

    Whilst Mr Cozier's fears are valid, the situation is not as bad as he makes out. Ony recently we have read interviews with Keiron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo in which they have made clear their views that test cricket is the pinnacle. But the Board refuses to select Pollard and has shelved Bravo for the past 4years. Consider also that the young West Indian typically does not have the maturity, concentration or application for the longer format of the game (Marlon Samuels is a prime example of this) save for exceptional talents. Would it be so bad if a young player spent the first 5years or so of his career playing t20 around the world? There are obvious positives - he would secure his future financially, get exposed to conditions around he world, meet experienced professionals - then can make the move to test cricket with a renewed hunger. This approach would require a certain understanding from the Board but it is not exactly a quantum leap.

  • POSTED BY Sir_Francis on | May 25, 2014, 8:08 GMT

    Firstly, to fayyazo3. Your statement, "So what if test cricket dies. Cricket is going to stay." Well you are obviously very young and much more sensible than an old person like me who is, unfortunately, a cricket tragic. The lost of Test cricket would be like a very serious - maybe life threatening illness (exaggeration? No. less than 4 weeks ago I had major surgery for cancer. I was born severely disabled. Lost count of all the operations, illness - some life threatening, I've had - Test cricket has been one of those things I needed to continue on - as silly as that sounds. There is also family, friends, music, books etc. too). Anyway, to my actual point. WI don't have to worry. It's clear the younger and I assume, future generations will prefer the more lucrative and eaiser 20/20 over FC cricket. With my health I may be lucky and not witness the end of Tests but they are dead. It's just a matter of time and if the majority think like fayyazo3 then there will be nothing to worry about