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Future of Test cricket

MCC calls for immediate day/night Tests

Cricinfo staff

July 2, 2010

Comments: 81 | Text size: A | A

The MCC World Cricket Committee fears for the future of Test cricket unless action is taken quickly to promote the traditional format and has called for the immediate introduction of day/night matches to boost the game in countries where attendances are low.

The committee, which concluded a two-day meeting at Lord's on Friday and consists of a host of former players, reiterated its call for a Test Championship to bring context to the five-day game, but believes recent testing with pink balls means that floodlit Tests can start as soon as possible.

"We should not delay in presenting day-night Test cricket as an option for those Test-playing countries that are struggling to attract an audience," John Stephenson, the MCC assistant secretary, said. "We say this form of the game is viable now. We proved it in Abu Dhabi with the four-day game under lights.

"It was the perfect experiment, and demonstrated this game should go ahead now. We don't need another 18 months of research. The world of cricket is ready. It should not wait; the time is now."

The former Australian captain, Steve Waugh, was one of the committee members advocating the pink-ball revolution. "I think it would be great," he said. "There's always resistance to change because it takes people out of their comfort zone, but I think back to World Series Cricket back when I was a kid. It ignited the spark among the spectators, and as players it's exciting. Like Twenty20 cricket, it would be something new and challenging, and as a player I'd really embrace that.

"A day-night Test would be a chance to be part of history, by taking the game in a different direction, and Test cricket needs a few little changes to get people back on board and watching it. There are always going to be negative people and you tend to hear them more, but you've just got to get on with the game. It's a cricket ball but it's a different colours. Try it out and see what happens."

ICC have taken a more cautious view of the potential for day/night Tests and want more research undertaken before they are introduced, while not all the feedback coming out of Abu Dhabi from players was positive. However, in May, David Morgan, who finished his term as ICC President yesterday, hinted that the change could soon happen.

"I talked to administrators in Australia whom I expected to be so conservative as to be against day-night Test cricket but they are very much for it," he said. "I believe it won't be too long before we see day-night Test cricket in Australia or India."

The world cricket committee also said that it was vital that Test match pitches offered a fair balance between bat and ball to maintain interest levels. They cited the surfaces in Bangladesh as a poor example for the game, while recently in St Kitts West Indies and South Africa played a Test that was an inevitable draw from very early.

"MCC's research from India, New Zealand and South Africa, published in November 2009, showed that the cricketing public in these countries wanted to watch day/night Test cricket and were strongly in favour of a World Test Championship," an MCC statement said. "Fairer pitches, such as the ones England recently encountered in South Africa - which offered bounce and some assistance to the bowlers - rather than in Bangladesh - which were low, slow and batsmen-friendly - would also help to improve the game as a spectacle."

The committee, which also published research which showed only 11% of cricket watched in India was Test matches compared to 33% six years ago, added that it understood that the commercial demands of the game meant that Twenty20 was a crucial format for the financial health of the sport. But it believes that Test cricket should be made more attractive with greater rewards on offer to ward off the threat of players becoming Twenty20 freelancers.

"With T20 riches on offer, the committee feel that national governing bodies should do all that they can to retain their best talent and ensure Test cricket is a financially rewarding career. There are freelance cricketers who see a profitable career in playing shorter forms of the game only; the committee wants to guard against an increase in their number.

"The committee understands that market forces will always dictate what type of cricket spectators want to watch and that you cannot force people to watch Test match cricket. At the moment, however, cricket authorities around the world need to make a more concerted effort to attract audiences to Test cricket: a World Test Championship, played by well-rewarded cricketers - on fair pitches - at a time of the day to suit the paying public, would provide the Test game with the boost it requires."

"It's important that senior players pass on to the junior players just how important it is to play Test cricket," said Waugh. "We've seen what's happened in West Indies cricket, with Chris Gayle stating he prefers Twenty20 cricket. That's had an impact on his side. The senior players have to pass it on, because as soon as you lose it from one generation to the next, then there's going to be trouble."

The cricket committee meeting also received a presentation from Andy Flower, the England coach, on the current situation in Zimbabwe and the MCC will be sending a fact-finding trip to the country to assess the feasibility of a club tour in 2011.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (July 7, 2010, 10:40 GMT)

Introducing day/night tests is rubbish. If people complain that test cricket is boring, then wud u expect people to pay to watch boring cricket in the night after a hectic day's work? What needs to be done is improve the quality of wkts world wide. The ones found in Aus, Eng, SA and NZ needs to be used as an archetype. Wkts found in the sub-continent powder up by day 2!!! If such things are avoided and the bowlers are given good assitance in terms of pace, swing, bounce, seam and turn then i dont see any problem. A sensible world championship and putting forth better price money is a good idea. 2 tier system wud be a bad idea & i think the current pool of teams, ireland included with quality players and pitches is the right way to go. I luv to c tea break and dinner break

Posted by   on (July 7, 2010, 7:53 GMT)

Introducing day/night tests is rubbish. If people complain that test cricket is boring, then wud u expect people to pay to watch boring cricket in the night after a hectic day's work? What needs to be done is improve the quality of wkts world wide. The ones found in Aus, Eng, SA and NZ needs to be used as an archetype. Wkts found in the sub-continent powder up by day 2!!! If such things are avoided and the bowlers are given good assitance in terms of pace, swing, bounce, seam and turn then i dont see any problem. A sensible world championship and putting forth better price money is a good idea. 2 tier system wud be a bad idea & i think the current pool of teams, ireland included with quality players and pitches is the right way to go. I luv to c tea break and dinner break

Posted by tomjs100 on (July 6, 2010, 23:08 GMT)

I strongly dislike the suggestion of day-night test cricket. The whole point is that test cricket is traditional. The decrease of percentage viewers watching test cricket (AND IN INDIA ONLY) shows nothing. If 6 years ago 50 million people watched cricket in India and now 150 million people watch cricket, then the number watching tests is actually the same (just a different proportion). In addition I think if you asked the public, just because test cricket isn't that easy to watch (either on TV or at the ground) it isn't a reason to meddle with it. Rather the respect and admiration is still there 100%, just they may find other formats easier to watch.

Posted by nataraajds on (July 6, 2010, 6:21 GMT)

test championship is a good idea to make test cricket more competitive and interesting.(day night match may not be a good idea). right now there are 9 test playing nations and each team to play one home and one away series of 3 test against other 8 nations to be completed in 3 years schedule. top 4 teams under points table play semi-final and final. this would be best option.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (July 4, 2010, 14:36 GMT)

Give it a go in countries where it is warm enough after dark. Too many people have sold out to the idea that t20 is something more than a piece of frippery designed to test certain skills only- but it is a zircon rather than a diamond at the best of times. If it turns people on well and good, but it is seriously short of content and to make it the centrepiece is to serve up popcorn and icecream instead of nourishment. So this idea could could actually help restore the balance of formats in popular imagination. And the Test Championship is an idea which has been waiting in the wings long enough to soon walk on centrestage, provided it knows its lines. After all it is really the episodic nature and the rise and fall in dramatic tension that makes cricket interesting as a sport, and not just the whambang thank you ma'm of T20, the fifth day wicket compared to the first morning. Giood to see MCC at the cutting edge of ideas.

Posted by stmookeyj on (July 4, 2010, 13:48 GMT)

Silly idea for Australia amongst other countries, where it doesn't get dark until about 8:30 in the majority of the country. And I doubt the ratings for TV (which this is being geared towards, nothing to do with the paying audience) will justify having test matches on at night. Even 20 over games were not rating as strong as it was.

Posted by Kirk-at-Lords on (July 4, 2010, 11:33 GMT)

MCC once again proves how essential it is to the Spirit of Cricket and the welfare of the sport. It puts the ICC well into the shade. Now, if MCC would lead the way toward a World Cricket Convention to create a proper form of governance, the cricket's future would be assured.

Posted by SnowSnake on (July 4, 2010, 11:28 GMT)

The problem with the stadium attendence with test cricket is that the audience have to go home without a decision (generally 4 days out of 5, sometimes all 5 days or have a heart break on 5 day if your team losses). In some cases, the match lasts only 4 days when you buy a ticket for 5 days. Also, you have to kill time during lunch and tea breaks. Day or night, today's audience have short attention span, who wants this? With Internet, it is easy to just go to a web site and watch the highlights. During pre-Intenet days, you can only watch highlights when TV showed it, so there was still an incentive to go and watch a match.

Posted by SuperTechnique on (July 4, 2010, 7:16 GMT)

I think Day night is worth a try and definitely should be tried .You can after all always dump it if it doesnt work . And I am definitely up for test championship

Posted by everfaithful77 on (July 4, 2010, 6:17 GMT)

A TEST CHAMPIONSHIP is a great idea. Day/Night matches maybe, but I don't think large crowds will turn up to watch boring cricket. Spectator interest in test cricket have been dwindling for some time now. Other changes can be made to make test cricket more interesting. One of the main reasons for tame draws is UNLIMITED overs in an innings. I believe that if a limit is placed on the number of overs a team could bat in an innings (eg100-120), it would force teams to play more exciting cricket. Some of the rules in the ODI format can also be adopted. Batting would certainly be more positive, bowlers and fielding teams generally would need to be more attacking or inventive. Long drawn out boring innings would be a thing of the past. DRAWS would decline. A test championship would be a good place to use such a format after being properly tested. I think spectator interest would definitely jump a notch. Remember 20/20 and ODI are more exciting because win/loss results are almost certain.

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