|HOME | WORLD CUP 99 | INDIA | OPINION | SANJAY MANJREKAR|
|February 22, 1999||
We are the world...
Mr Jagmohan Dalmiya's baby was born on February 16, 1999!
Yes, the Asian Test Championship was the brainchild of the chief of the International Cricket Council, and he hopes that it grows to become the World Test Championship of cricket.
Appropriately, it is at the Eden Gardens, Calcutta, hometown of Mr Dalmiya, that this momentous effort is being launched.
Eden Gardens is arguably the best cricket ground in the world, and I am fortunate to be here for three reasons.
One is of course the occasion. Two, a Test match at the Gardens is always special and three, it is an India-Pakistan Test match and it doesn't get any better than that.
As we know, there was no winner at the end of the two-match series between India and Pakistan. So, it is hardly surprising that most look at this first Test of the ATC as the decider. Be that as it may, Mr Dalmkya and company have to be congratulated for being the first to take the initiative towards fulfilling the much-talked of need, for a World Test Championship.
There is no doubt that this Asian Test Championship is looked at as the tournament that will give us insights as far as organising a world Test championship is concerned. The success of the ATC will thus mean a strong likelihood of the bigger Test championship in the near future.
Although this idea of the ATC is new, it is not the first ime three teams have played against each other in a Test series, that having happened way back in 1912, when England, South Africa and Australia had played a series like this. But that was the only time it happened, and didn't see the light of day again until nearly 87 long years later.
I can only see this attempt either helping Test cricket or not making much of an impact. I cannot see it doing any damage to the basic concept of Test cricket at all. We have seen so many variations coming into one day cricket, while there has hardly been any in Tests. Now, whether or not this concept stays and grows will, as always, be decided by the cricket-loving public. If they like this new concept of the ATC, then they will soon see the world Test championship.
However, personally, I fail to see how this new format can overshadow the time-tested style of two teams playing a series. The fun of a Test series lies in pitting two teams against each other and in one team losing, then bouncing back, the fortunes fluctuating from Test to Test. This thrill will not be there in case more than two teams are involved in a championship. Variety of opponents will, I feel strongly, dampen this kind of excitement. There will also be a few practical problems.
Organising a championship involving three nations could be okay. But consider a ten-nation event. We are talking of one match lasting five days. Now that is a huge number of matches, requiring all nations to keep their itinerary freee for such a long duration. To fit in all those matches in an already crowded international itinerary is not going to be easy at all.
Without going too much into detail, I feel that the idea is good in principle, but to implement it will be a completely different ball game. Mind you, not many senior officials of the ICC and past players have any idea of how to bring it to life.
Anyway, let us for the moment just sit back and enjoy Asian Test Championship being played by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. This is Test cricket with a slightly different flavour. There is a special points system introduced, to make sure that the game is played positively and we get a winner at the end of every Test. This is an aspect that will keep Test match cricket young and healthy.
Check it out, over the coming month as the three teams lock honrs. If you like it, you will have given the wise men of world cricket the incentive necessary to give concrete shape to a good idea -- namely, the World Test Championship.
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