Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. @hughandrews73
Two weeks ago, the MCC Cricket Committee, that well-known collection of trouble-makers, cowardy custards and ne'er do wells, came out with the following statement:
"The committee has long been concerned for the future of Test cricket and fears that, if left as it is, the longest form of the game will not survive. The committee feels there are too many instances of series that lack context and are played in almost empty stadiums."
I'm sure, that, like me, your first comment upon reading this defeatist propaganda was "Balderdash!" followed immediately by "Codswallop!" or "Poppycock!"
Test cricket is thriving. Look at the evidence. Last week, Lord's was packed full of middle-class panama enthusiasts for a whole three and a half days of Test cricket. Almost empty stadiums indeed! And as for context, well, this was the second instalment of the Ashes following the Ashes that finished 18 months ago, which came three months after the Ashes before that. That's more than enough context for anyone.
Some people have suggested that if things carry on like this, all we will be left with is the Ashes; that Test cricket will be reduced to an anachronistic annual ritual that has no relevance to anybody outside a dwindling band of affluent enthusiasts, like the University Boat Race or county cricket. Which is a good thing, obviously.
But apparently not everyone is overjoyed by the prospect of watching the Ashes over and over and over again, year after year after year. Some of them even want to encourage other countries, like China or Iceland or Mexico, to take up the game. This would be a disaster. As my vicar used to say, if the Almighty had intended Mexico to play Test cricket, he would have made Columbus an Englishman.
The last thing that Test cricket needs is a lot of riff-raff elbowing their way in and spoiling things. For a start we'd have to explain the rules all over again, and you know how long that takes. And the last thing the England team needs, given their current tenuous foothold in the top half of the Test rankings, is a new range of opponents to lose to.
This isn't the only bad idea that the doom-mongers have come up with. There's day-night cricket (for people too lazy to get themselves agreeable jobs that allow them to take the odd afternoon off) subsidised tickets (for children who lacked the foresight to be born to wealthy parents) and a Test Championship (for people with a strange, unnatural compulsion to find out which team is best). Frankly, we don't need their sort.
This kind of foolishness has been going on for ever, but fortunately, thus far the sensible chaps at the ICC have shown no inclination whatsoever to do anything about it. As I remarked to Jardine, my pet dodo, the other day, there is nothing wrong with Test cricket that another 20 years of masterly inactivity won't sort out. And he agreed with me. At least I think he did. He doesn't move very much these days.
As this is my final Long Handle piece, I'd like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read it over the last six years and particularly to those who've left comments, for good or bad. It has been a privilege to write for the world's best cricket website and to be involved in a small way in the great global cricket conversation.