Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Why excessive T20s will make watching test match cricket even more interesting...

I am sure many of you -the cricket viewers worldwide would have been exhausted watching the amount of T20 cricket being played off late. For the last 6-7 months the world of cricket revolved only on T20's.

First it was bi-lateral series in preparation for the ICC World T20 post which there was the Indian Premier League( IPL) which failed to attract the attention it usually does.

This can be attributed to the fact that amongst the most loved teams in the IPL, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals were not there leading to new teams.

People who were loyal to those franchises just couldn't accept the fact that their favorite player is playing for a new team leading to reduced craze for this edition of the tournament, leading to empty stands and reduced attention from the viewers.

But according to me this fixation for T20 cricket is the main reason for this. Fans like me of course will love to watch the T20s as it's exciting and real fun to watch but this at the expense of lesser test cricket is a matter of concern.

It's the pinnacle of the sport and it must be protected at all cost. The lure of big bucks has it's plusses but that must not be the driving factor for all the cricketing boards across the cricketing world.

The importance given to the more lucrative options for them i.e. having more ODI's and T20s squeezed in between a two match test series here and there doesn't make too much sense.

But on the flip side, the overdrive of T20s in the recent past may be the required boost to bring back the lost audiences to test match cricket.

People should have been fed up with so much of T20's that they should be looking forward to the upcoming test matches in the near future. Just to put things into perspective, for example India will play only test cricket from July 2016 to March 2017- a total of 17 test matches in total.

So people may be wondering what's so special about Test cricket. Well, it's the toughest test of a cricketer's skill. You will need to have immense amount of grit, dedication and patience to endure a test match on tough pitch and weather conditions to succeed in this form of the game.

It is the game in it's most pure and classical form. It separates the boys from the men. There  have been cricketers who triumph and amaze cricket fans in T20s like Chris Gayle  but are technically not able to cope up with the longest form of the game- be it batsmen or bowlers.

Having grown up watching the technical prowess of  Rahul Dravid, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis to name a few and see how the spin of one man Shane Warne dominate oppositions in the longest form of the game  inspired me  to become a leg spinner.

 The testament of the greatness of players like these comes from the fact that they were able to maintain the level of their brilliance across all formats of the game and most importantly in Test cricket.

Many say test cricket is boring. Well I disagree. A Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli or AB Devillers  in full flow or David Warner in devastating hitting form can be even more entertaining in a test match than a T20 game.

Nowadays with better bats and flatter pitches , batsmen across formats are finding it easy to make a switch from a T20 to a test match or vice-versa with ease which is pleasing to see.

The overall improvement of players  who play in the classical  mould like Ajinkya Rahane, Steve Smith , Kane Williamson and Joe Root can be attributed to the fact that they passed the ultimate challenge  playing in Test matches and having that technical finesse allowed them to flourish in the other formats of the game.

A classic example would be Steve Smith who started of as a leg spinner who could bat a bit but now he is among the top three batsmen in the world. A classic case where succeeding in test match cricket nurtures  a cricketer's game completely so that they can thrive in the other formats of the game too.

The joy in seeing bowlers destroy top quality attacks can be witnessed at it's best  in a test match. I am not sure many will remember Sunil Narine's exploits as a T20 bowler for that long in the future but people still remember how great bowlers like Glen McGrath, Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan, Anil Kumble and in more recent times James Anderson, Mitchell Johnson, Dale Steyn are.

Take this devastating spell witnessed  in recent times by Stuart Broad where he made the Australian batting look really hapless. The pitch was helpful for bowlers and the overcast conditions aided Broad in this spell but this is the beauty of the red ball which swings even more than the white ball which is used in ODI's & T20s , it's the beauty of test match cricket:

Pitches start crumbling adding to the fun. That makes the game  twist and turn and the momentum shifts seamlessly from one team to another. It's possible only in a test match and to an extent in ODI's.

On extremely hard, turning and low pitches in the fourth and fifth day of a test match is where the true test of a batsmen's technique is seen.

That is where batsmen like Rahul Dravid will be remembered for a long time as in completely unplayable conditions he has stood tall amidst the ruins many a time for India- a classic example would be the India tour to England in 2013 where he was the only batsmen for India in the series who gave some fight when the rest of the team crumbled around him.

It's sad to see test cricket loose it's fan following off late. But that can be attributed to flatter pitches which makes it a one way street as batsmen completely dominate the game thereby leading to a high scoring dull draw test match  and after a time people start loosing interest in the game.

Also the completely packed schedule for all the major teams nowadays makes it impossible for teams to adopt to unfamiliar territory thereby leading to one-sided contests which drives away people from watching test match cricket.

Another critical aspect is the way the cricket boards market test match cricket. The Day Night test is a step in the right direction.

Probably reduce the number of ODI's in a bi-lateral series and have at least a three match test series and T20I series so that the boards get the revenues and cricket fans get to see cricket in it's purest form more along with the slam-bang of the T20s.

This can be changed if teams are given sufficient practice before a test  match series ( probably reduce the number of ODI's played in a year) to accommodate more warm-up matches which will help the players  to adopt to conditions better.

The ICC should make sure that  sportive pitches  are prepared for test matches which keeps the viewers interested for a longer span of time , reduce the cost of test matches tickets so that people come to the grounds to witness the game and finally promote this form of the game better( the day/night tests is a big positive sign, and probably start a concept of a test match championship).

Any cricketer would agree that playing in the longest format of the game gives them the most satisfaction. It's about preserving this form of the game which led to the sport be termed as "The Gentleman's game".

Hopefully thanks to the excessive amount of T20s we saw over the past 6-7 months, the interest for the longest form of the game increases from a viewers perspective. I have highlighted how interest can be raised so that test cricket gets its due.


  1. Well, you have put your points in a very nice manner. I love your writings and wish you best of luck in future too...!

  2. Thank you so much! I am glad you like my writing. This will help me to write better in the future!