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'You are devaluing Test cricket'

January 13, 2020 19:00 IST

'If you are reducing Tests to four days, you are tampering with the time, you are tampering with the skill, you are tampering with the patience, tampering with the technical part.'

Team India

IMAGE: Virat Kohli, captain of the World's No 1 Test team, is against the plan to reduce Tests to four days. Photograph: BCCI
 

Limited overs cricket has constantly reinvented itself to retain the interest of spectators.

One-Day Internationals originally started out as 60 overs per side before being reduced to 50 overs. The ODI format outside the World Cup witnessed a huge drop in interest among fans, leading to the introduction of Twenty20 cricket.

In a few weeks, the International Cricket Council plans to discuss trimming Test matches to four days from the current five, citing reduced player workload, freeing up more space for limited overs games.

Sachin Tendulkar has rejected the four-day Test match plan, saying the change will render spinners ineffective, with a day less in hand.

'Taking away the fifth day track from a spinner is like taking away the first day track from a fast bowler,' he said.

'On the final session of a fifth day, any spinner would like to bowl. The wicket takes time for wear and tear. The fifth day brings with it, turn, bounce and the unevenness of the surface. It doesn't happen on the first two days,' the legend added.

Virat Kohli is also not in favour of four-day Tests. 'The intent will not be right because then you will speak of three-day Tests. Then you will speak of Test cricket disappearing,' Kohli, a champion of Test cricket, stated.

Asked if spinners would lose out if Tests were reduced by a day, Murali Karthik, who played 8 Tests and 37 ODIs for India, is at a loss of words.

"Being an old school guy, I don't understand the idea of reducing the number of days. Test matches means five day matches. In ODIs if teams get bundled out in 30, 35 overs, you won't reduce the 50 over format to 35 overs," Karthik tells Harish Kotian/Rediff.com.

"People believe T20 cricket is here to stay. But who knows, maybe in the future people will get bored of T20 cricket also," Karthik adds.

"The entire fabric of the sport cannot be shaken by saying four-day Tests. You are devaluing Test match cricket," says Karthik.

"Just because many games haven't gone till the fifth day, it doesn't mean important games won't go till the fifth day. If the teams are evenly balanced, then you know the match goes right till the fifth day." Karthik adds.

"Test cricket should not be tampered with!" exclaims Sunil Joshi, another former India spinner. "Test cricket should always remain five-day matches."

"If you are reducing the Test match from five days to four, you are going to tamper with the time, you are going to tamper with the skill, you are going to tamper with the patience, you are ging to tamper with the technical part," Joshi points out.

"Everything you cannot relate to white ball cricket," adds Joshi, who played 15 Tests and 69 ODIs for India.

"If are reducing one day you are compromising on time, you are compromising on technique and you are compromising on temperament," believes Joshi, like Karthik, a left-arm spinner.

"You started pink ball Test, but if matches finish in two days, then who will come to watch it?" asks Karthik. "The pink ball is okay for the novelty factor, but if pink ball matches finish within 2-3 days, then what will you do?"

"Don't think of touching Test matches. Instead, think of how you can make the teams equally strong to make the format competitive rather than making Tests four days. There are so many games which need five days to produce a result," adds Karthik.

For Joshi, the beauty of a five-day contest is that it gives players from both teams an opportunity to make a comeback into the contest.

"As a bowler you can come back in the first spell, second spell, third spell or fourth spell. As a batsman in the first, second, third innings or fourth innings. You see fourth innings knocks are always remembered because they turn out to be match-saving knocks or match-winning knocks," says Joshi.

"Any team batting second or batting third always has a chance of coming back into the Test match. Most of the time when two big teams are playing, Test matches will go till the fifth day," adds Joshi.

"As a spinner," says Joshi, "you always have that edge of coming back on the fourth and fifth day and bowl better spells."


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HARISH KOTIAN