January 10, 2020

Five-day Test should continue unabated


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has done a fantastic job by having finally launched the World Test Championship last year. It has already been hailed as a success story as it seems to possess many ingredients to become a permanent feature in the future. 

Instead of waiting to reap harvests from the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship, due to conclude in the summer of 2023, the governing body of the sport has dropped a kind of bombshell by showing inclination towards having four-day Tests. It’s obviously nonsense of the highest order. Such an idea never merits discussion in an ICC meeting. 

The announcement that the ICC cricket committee will consider making four-day Tests mandatory, as part of the World Test Championship from 2023, has come as a shocker to say the least. 

How dare could the ICC even think of committing such a heinous crime? They have been guilty of doing so many odd things disrespectful to the game and its stature in the past, but contemplating four-day Tests is something beyond ethics. 

Well everyone knows about the priorities of the ICC. There is no element of ‘news’ or anything like that in them thinking about commercialization or more commercialization. 

But ‘killing’ Test cricket in order to free up a calendar, thought to be cramped with too many fixtures and T20 leagues, is something which can only be condemned in the harshest possible way. 

How do the movers and shakers of the ICC lose sight of the fact that its Test cricket which sustained the game since it became global in the 19th century? The limited overs versions arrived much later in the second half of the 20th century. 

And now the ICC, having become a commercial powerhouse, is prepared to temper with Test cricket, which is well and truly disgusting. 

Whoever, within the ICC, has masterminded this idea of reducing the duration of Test matches from five days to four days, is certainly not a friend of the game. Neither that person or may be a group of persons, who are pleading this, could be regarded as the well-wishers of cricket. 

Those having turned millionaires, or even billionaires, because of cricket, should not try to stab the game which is a source of recreation to global audience. 

The Test playing nations, who constitute the ICC, have a rich history of the game and, more than any other format, its Test cricket, yes Test cricket, whose glories have mattered the most to them. 

If the ICC has run out of ideas otherwise for the maximization of their profits, they would be advised to refrain from tabling such horrible proposals which will only be opposed bitterly by the cricket-loving fraternity. 

The marketers or even the administrators pursuing the move at the ICC appear oblivious of the charm and beauty of the fifth day of Test matches. The cricket followers should not be deprived of the rare pleasures of witnessing action-packed fifth day thrillers for financial or commercial reasons. 

Hopefully better sense will prevail at the ICC cricket committee and they will shoot down the proposal even without deliberating on it.

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