Test cricket's decades-long demise continued at breakneck velocity yet again this month, with many warning that the format is not merely dying, it is dying more, dying faster, and - now that Ireland and Afghanistan are involved - dying in more nations than was ever thought possible. But who is responsible for this planet-wide butchering of the format? Can Test cricket's legitimate offspring - ODIs and T20 internationals - expect their inheritance soon, or will the uncouth, bastard love-children that are the franchise T20 tournaments carve up the estate instead? And just how much dying can Test cricket really do anyway? The Briefing takes you deep.
A spirited decline
Among the many wringing hands about cricket's future is Moeen Ali, who has expressed "fear" for the future of the long format, based on his experiences in Australia. How could you fail to worry, after all, following the latest Ashes, for which no fewer than 867,002 tickets (the most in 80 years) were sold? How sad it must have been to see such multitudes turn up - many in fancy dress and high spirits - to watch Test cricket in such energetic throes of emperishment. How gut-wrenching to see the sport disco so vibrantly towards its grave.
Let us mourn for a Mr Dinesh Chandimal, who once was an attacking batsman suited for the exhilarating world of franchise T20, but like an idiot has recently become a very defensive sort and thus wedded himself to this doomed long format.
Hang on, what do you mean he used his Test form to propel himself into the limited-overs captaincy and has just led Sri Lanka to victory across formats in Bangladesh?
Another pink-ball party
WICB will become the sixth board to host a day-night Test, when Sri Lanka come to Barbados in June. As the format moves evermore into the night, could it be that it is not dead, but undead?
Adil Rashid and Alex Hales became the two latest players to plunge daggers into Test cricket's bedridden, life-support-addled body, announcing that they would refrain from first-class cricket in the impending county season. Shame. Not because they are effectively giving up the most challenging format for the shorter ones - no, plenty of cricketers have done that before. Shame, because unlike the long-format quitters before them, these two have not even had the decency to pay empty lip service to the wondrous glory of the Test game, with its five-day picket-fence ebb-flows and its cherry-red ball stains upon player groins and buttocks. Rashid and Hales have neither bothered to invent long-term injuries that prevent them - regretfully - from partaking in the best of the formats, nor at any stage spoken of magnanimously making way for the next generation of red-ballers. Rashid instead just said that his "heart is not there" and Hales has merely suggested that his decision "wasn't taken lightly or on the spur of the moment". I mean, throw in a hollow "nothing has given me more satisfaction than to represent England in whites" or something, at the very least.
The Briefing award for tokenism
Sunil Narine, meanwhile, in choosing to play the Pakistan Super League over helping West Indies qualify for the World Cup, has said that playing for West Indies remains his "ultimate goal" and he will rejoin the team the moment he regains some "self-belief". See, Adil and Alex - this is how it's done.
Dave Cameron's diagnosis
In other news, WICB president Dave Cameron has this month pinned the cricketing decline of Jamaica not on the WICB's horrendous recent record of managing its players, but on "female PE teachers" in Jamaican schools, who "don't know cricket" because it is "very complicated". Enormous congratulations are thus due to Stafanie Taylor and Co, whose winning of the most-recent World T20 trophy is even more impressive for apparently having come despite their indifference towards the head-smarting rules of their sport.
The embarrassing dad
Think you had it bad when your parents turned up to check on you in school? Think you suffered when you father cracked terrible jokes in front of friends you were trying to impress? Well, spare a thought for Tagenarine Chanderpaul, who was batting for Guyana in one of the biggest games of his 21-year-old life - the semi-final of the Super50 one-day tournament - when his dad Shivnarine turned up and ruined everything. Tage had worked himself nicely into the innings, having hit 12 off as many balls, before a blunderous straight drive from Shiv ricocheted off the bowler's boot and into the non-striker's stumps. Having run out his son, Shiv would proceed to lose his own wicket soon after, and Guyana would go on to lose the game.
Next month on The Briefing:
- Unveiling plans for his future political career, David Warner details his pro-literacy "Speak English" policy.
- Moeen Ali profoundly concerned for profitability of superhero films: "I mean, has even a single person gone to see Black Panther?"
- "Shut up, Dad. I don't need to go to the bathroom before going out to bat."
Tagenarine's plea for some space in the dressing room.