Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar has called for balanced pitches to make sure Test cricket remains the prime format of the game. He said the shorter formats might be good for the globalisation of the game and might provide financial security to the players, but Test cricket remained the pinnacle. Gavaskar was speaking at the inaugural annual MAK Pataudi lecture in honour of former India captain, Nawab of Pataudi, also fondly known as Tiger, in Chennai.
"T20 is the one that is helping to globalise the game," Gavaskar said, "taking it to countries, to emerging countries and taking it to countries like America and China and maybe Europe as well. I think that is the format you probably need to look at if you want to globalise the game.
"However, I still believe that Test cricket is the pinnacle of the game. I think it is, as all the players here would readily acknowledge, that is the medium, that is the format by which they will be recognised as good players or great players or just ordinary players.
"The performances in T20, the performances in the 50-over format are well and wonderful but at the end of the day, it's Test cricket … how do you do at Test level is what the players know they will be rated by."
Gavaskar said the onus was on the administrators to retain the primacy of Test cricket. "And that is what the administrators also need to make sure," he said. "Particularly the major countries, the ten Test-playing countries - and out of that I would imagine there are four or five major Test countries - they are the ones who should ensure that Test cricket remains the pinnacle."
The pitches, he said, were crucial. "For that I think you need to have pitches with balance," Gavaskar said, "rather than pitches which are one-sided. Pitches which give the opportunity for the best to be tested against the best. Test cricket is a test not just of skill or technique, but it's a test of your courage and your temperament. And I have always believed that it is temperament that separates the men from the boys. It can only be found out in the cauldron of Test cricket. I would request all the administrators to have a look at it."
Gavaskar also said the administrators shouldn't change the rules and laws too much. "I think - and this is what Tiger said as well - that we often tinker too much with the game. That we keep on changing this and we keep on changing that, which makes it difficult for countries which are not cricket-savvy to understand the game.
"The success of football, of tennis and of golf is because the rules are very simple. It is easy to understand, therefore there is no confusion in the mind of those who have never played the game before and whose primary sport in their country is not any of these sports. I think this is something cricket's administrators need to look at."