Saturday, 26 November 2011

The decline of test cricket...

The decline of test cricket.

What was once the peak of cricket, is now slowly being lost among the shorter formats of the game. Someone one said T20 cricket is the pauper of cricket and ODI cricket is the Prince of cricket, while test cricket was the king of cricket. You wouldn't be wrong thinking that roles have been reversed nowadays with test cricket and T20 cricket.

You only have to look at the crowds that have only recently packed the Indian stadiums for the IPL, and the Champions League T20. Compare those crowds with what we see at the current West Indies/India test series and it's clear for all to see. Granted crowds do improve when India do come into bat, but this is not just an Indian problem. Crowds at the last test series between South Africa and Australia have suffered.

While not all test nations have suffered at the hands of test cricket, England have managed to fill their stadiums for their recent summer test series against Sri Lanka and India. So what is the problem. Is it that audiences outside of England have lost interest in test cricket.

I think some of test cricket's problems are in those who govern the game, and fans are getting tired of it. Why sit through five days of cricket to only get a draw at the end of it, no result. Or if your unlucky enough, you can go watch test cricket, only to find bad light has forced the players of, as it's deemed unsafe. Or when a splash of rain comes down and once again the umpires are itching to get of the field, and bring all the covers on. Or for two captains two agree to call the game a draw because one side can't be bothered to attempt to chase the total.

Granted in some cases where the total is out of reach and the only result possible is indeed a draw. I'll bring you a case recently in a test game where India were playing the West Indies, India had been set a target of 180 to win from 47 overs, and it seemed at first they were making a valid attempt to chase the target down, but after the fall of Raina at the start of the 29th over, India threw in the towel and instead of giving all the fans that had attended a good tight game to watch, both captains decided to end it as a draw.

It had seemed a very attainable target for the Indian side, but both sides were happy to play it safe.

Why would someone want to go watch five days of cricket as I said earlier, to only see a drawn test match. When they can go watch T20, ODI, ODI day/night games that guarantee a result either way, depending on the weather.

Where T20/ODI cricket brings you big shots, boundaries, huge sixes, powerplays, boundary catches, close finishes and the cricket is done and dusted in the one day.

The Test Championship which was due to take place in England in 2013, has now been postponed to at least 2017. Many had thought this was an interesting way of putting spice and interest back into the declining format of the game, which involved the top four ranked teams in the ICC rankings. Haroon Lorgat said the reason for it not going ahead on the date as planned was because of a lack of "support and consent" from the ICC's broadcast partner.

And with that it was another blow for test cricket.

You could also throw into the argument that now even more so, players, especially bowlers are turning down test level cricket, even ODI cricket to focus their careers on T20 cricket. The likes of Shaun Tait has retired from all forms except T20 cricket, while Lasith Malinga has retired from test cricket, so they both can extend their careers in the shorter forms. The money to be made from contracts in the IPL is staggering, with the himself receiving $300,000 for his work with the Rajasthan Royals, and Malinga was retained by the Mumbai Indians and set to be valued at a minimum of $500,000.

Malinga preference over T20 cricket and his reluctance to play test cricket has not gone down well with the Sri Lankan selectors, stating he is not able to play test cricket for a nagging knee problem, granted T20 cricket is a far shorter workload than what is needed at test level.

And with the likes of Chris Gayle falling out with the West Indies Cricket Board, and turning to play for T20 cricket, much like his fellow countryman Kieron Pollard, who can be seen all around the world plying their trades in different T20 leagues.

More and more cricketers are turning to the shortest form of the game, and with test games being drawn out in a bore, and games being delayed for a fear of dangerous play with so called bad light, especially in a day and age when the players wear more and more stronger equipment, and sturdier helmets. When umpires are easily removing the players from the field of play with any sign of rain. Why should fans stick with the longer form of the game when those who govern the game don't come to see common sense, and try to get the game going. Where delays are more common and possible championships being delayed by a minimum of four years.

T20 is a fun form of the game, and ODI is a more strict form of the game, but we need all forms, but we to find the balance before it's too late, and test cricket is lost forever...


  1. very well written piece...

    bcoz of t20 .. tests r getting less popular...

    they sud make more sporting pitches to make thrilling tests

  2. The reasons for waning interest in Tests are many. But, IMO, the root cause is fans have chosen the spectacular above the substance.

    In the past 100 Tests are so, two-thirds have yielded a result, as per Cricinfo. So it is lazy, insincere or naive to say Tests don't produce results. The recent WI-India Test produced a draw that was more thrilling than some one sided wins.

    Draws happen even in World Cup Soccer matches as also in various european premier league games. So proffering draws make Test cricket drab is untenable.

    A major issue is the duration and timing. 5 days away from work or business to watch a Test is a bit expensive for many fans. This is a real problem. Some out of the box solution is needed here.

    From the two main problems (shift in preference and duration) flows the third challenge - funding for Test cricket. This is often touted as an independent problem but it is an effect and not a cause.

  3. I think it's because of the money factor involved the players commitment level is also high when it comes to T20. The best way to turn the fortune of test cricket is to prepare result oriented pitches. A visiting side always gets test matches first when they go and play in a foregin country. Test Cricket should be played when the touring side adjusts to the conditions better and are better equipped to handle the conditions. First T20, then ODI's and then if Test matches are played then the result and crowd will be intrested in watching the game. Instead of that the ICC always calls for home advantage which is wrong. Time now has come to globalise the game.
    The approach of the ICC should change towards Test Match Cricket.

  4. Cricket is one of the few areas where a 'closed shop' is still considered OK! I don't disagree with the points made so far, and Colm raises important issues in his piece. But marketing people like things to change - and be fresh. The 'FULL MEMBER' issue is the major stumbling block for the development of test cricket. The current structure of the ICC is biased towards protecting the status quo in test cricket. The same old teams - same old same old. Bonkers! How can you possibly 'grow' interest' if you won't even consider growing your market-place. Maybe the time has come for a few experiments. Maybe try a four day test (even a series?) ... why not? Why not look at our (Irish fans) favourite topic of admitting Ireland as a full member. For centuries, Irish people have spread themselves over all five continents. If Ireland had a test match or two in the Windies, wouldn't it be interesting to find out how many Irish from the States might be enticed into the supporters fold. I'm thinking the TV figures would be pretty good. An India v Ireland test? We have huge support on the sub-continent. ICC talk development - but actions speak louder than words.