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RANT: Why I hate the idea of four-day Tests “saving” Test cricket

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Last Updated on 6 years by Charbel Coorey

South Africa and Zimbabwe battled in a four-day Test in Port Elizabeth on Boxing Day (which lasted just two days), which disappoints me greatly – so much that I think it’s a really sad for Test cricket.

What this decision highlights is that the focus of the administrators is wrong. Cricket fans crave entertainment, and good cricket, which are elements that Test cricket still well and truly give, providing the conditions enable it. This is more important than ever before, as we are in the day and age of instant gratification.

This leads me to my main point in my argument against four day Tests.

Test cricket is suffering throughout the world not because it’s a poor concept, but because of the influx of flat pitches throughout the world, created to prolong the match as long as possible to please sponsors, advertisers and broadcasters. To save Test cricket, it’s precisely the “revenue” and “money first” mindset that has to change, not the length of the match. Rather, the focus needs to be that good Test cricket will get more people through the gates, and more viewers on television, which will in-turn result in revenue and a revival of the format. At the moment, administrators are focused on revenue, at the expense of good Test cricket, rather than because of it.

Currently, England and Australia are toiling away in the Boxing Day Test on one of the flattest and slowest Melbourne pitches I’ve ever seen. It’s so flat that I’m tempted to follow the Sydney to Hobart yacht race instead. Traditionally, in one of the great aspects of Test cricket, the bowlers would have something to work with in the pitch on the first morning. Yet, we continue to see flat surfaces across the world that favour batsmen, and reduce the value of Test cricket by the second. How does a four day Test fix this and revive Test cricket, the most beautiful and traditional form of the game?

A closer look at the Boxing Day Test pitch between Australia and England

Simple. It doesn’t. All it does is reduce a poor quality Test in terms of time, which still does the game no favours. We should not have fans thanking the heavens that a Test has ended. The opposite should occur.

Also, four day Test might see quicker scoring because of the shorter time available to teams, which means an even less focus on showing great fight and technique. If the pitch is flat, this couldn’t be more boring as there is no battle between bat and ball. If the pitch has something for the bowlers, batsmen will be even less equipped to deal with the moving ball. The fact that people believe four day Tests are the answer is a disgrace.

Also, what four day Tests will do is deprive us of thrilling fifth day finishes. If four day Tests become the norm, I predict that we will say “if only there was a fifth day” many times. A close Test match offers the excitement and drama that not many other sports can offer, simply because the fact that a match can be close after five days of battle is incredible. Yes, there will be the exciting draws with four day Tests, but the match will feel “unfinished”, considering we’re all used to five day Tests. There are so many examples I can think of, but I’ll list just a few today.

  • 2005 Ashes series – Old Trafford Test – Ponting and the Australian tail try to defy England, even with the chance of winning and achieving the highest ever run chase. Australia ended up with a thrilling draw with one wicket left, and is something we would never have witnessed had it been a four-day Test.
  • Bangladesh v England, 2016 Chittagong Test – Day four ended with Bangladesh needing 33 runs to win with two wickets in hand. After day four ended, all my thoughts were about the fifth day’s play and how I couldn’t wait to see how the Test would end. England eventually won by 22 runs. We would have been deprived of such a brilliant finish had it been four days.
  • Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 2017 Dubai Test – Pakistan were 52/5 chasing 317 on day four, and then Sarfraz Ahmed and Asad Shafiq put on an incredible partnership to leave the Test in the balance heading into the final day – Pakistan needed 119 runs, Sri Lanka 5 wickets. On a pitch taking turn, Rangana Herath was the threat, and Sri Lanka eventually won by 68 runs. 
Any other Tests that come to your mind?
In addition, we will see 98 over days in four-day Tests. With over rates the way they are, how often will we actually reach this figure? It remains to be seen.
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Thrilling Tests offer drama that no other format can provide. The feeling between the end of the fourth day and start of the fifth day is a feeling that should be taken away from any cricket fan. Rather, the focus should be enabling great Test cricket thanks to conditions that provide an equal battle between bat and ball.
Four-day Tests are not the answer to reviving Test cricket.
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Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has also been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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