Test Cricket More Arduous But There Is Nothing Like It!
By Yajurvindra Singh
The popularity of the conventional form of cricket, ‘Test Matches’ may be on the wane; however, it is the only way one can measure the ability of a cricketer.
The five days of play for men and four days for women truly bring to the fore some of the most important traits of the game that one misses in the shorter versions. It requires concentration, consistency, control, fitness, discipline, mental strength, and good planning while batting as well as bowling.
It is such a pleasure watching the men and women in whites on a lush green outfield rather than the colorful parade that one encounters in the limited-overs versions.
Test cricket needed an infusion of change in the 70s as the sport was getting into a state of dullness and boredom. Cricketers, to be successful, then played cautiously and so it led to more matches being drawn rather than bearing a result.
Kerry Packer, the flamboyant Australian businessman, brought into play a cricket circus that focused on entertainment and action. His colorful night cricket filled with legendary players from around the world of cricket captured the hearts of the fans and followers. Limited overs came into play and colorful attire became the fashionable alternative.
Cricket took a turn towards a fun-filled, fast-paced, extravagant, and result-oriented sport. This was just the spark that was required to bring some spice into the slow-paced movements that cricket had fallen into.
The outcome of this transformation, however, was that some cricketers with average skills rose to prominence. Cricket needed action and what emerged next was the introduction of field and bowling restrictions with Power-plays. The boundaries were shortened to create more sixes and fours and the basics and skills that one required earlier to play the game were not so important to succeed. The artistry and subtle stroke-play gave way to brute force and mighty hits.
The limited-overs cricket that finally converged into the most popular version of T20 is a spectacle for the spectators, however, one was pleased to learn how it is not as satisfying for a cricketer.
The top women and men cricketers are emphasizing their preference to play Test cricket. This is music to a cricket connoisseur’s ears.
The major issue that Test cricket faces against its limited-overs rivals is that of financial and commercial returns. The cricketers may feel that Test cricket is the ultimate test of their abilities, however, the crowd and majority of followers think differently.
The paucity of time is the major concern for spectators and lovers of the game, and one wonders how Test cricket can come forth once again to rule the roost.
The ICC has realized the importance of pushing forward the cause of Test cricket through a World Test Cricket Championship, However, it needs a superlative effort from Cricket Boards of all the cricket-playing countries to create an atmosphere and interest to make it happen.
The Bangladesh versus New Zealand series was the start of an exciting new cycle of the Test Championship. Bangladesh at home brought about a historic win in the 1st Test match only to thereafter, lose the next in a close encounter. Although the series was drawn, an extra match would have been just what the doctor ordered. That a 2-match series was what time permitted is precisely why Test cricket will be looked at as an inferior option.
India too in South Africa playing just two Test matches, it truly diffuses the very essence of what Test cricket is all about. The tenacity and skills to sustain a full-fledged encounter needs over 4 or 5 matches. The batters and bowlers need to continuously innovate to deceive each other and that is what makes cricket an absorbing sport.
The 1st day’s play of Test cricket matches between the Australian men’s team against Pakistan at Perth and the Women’s Test match between India and England in Mumbai were a treat to watch. The bowlers of both the Pakistan Men and England Women sides realized how arduous a task, bowling in a Test match can be.
The excessive exposure of the limited-overs version has limited them to thinking and bowling as a Test cricketer. In failing to keep a consistent line and length, bowling long spells took its toll on all the bowlers.
The batters had a whale of a time, especially as the bowlers were tired and clueless at the end. Test cricket requires a team to take 20 wickets and the only way one can see a result in present-day cricket is when the wicket is prepared to pamper the bowlers as a rank turner or a grassy wicket to suit the home side’s arsenal.
It is wonderful to see that Test cricket is gradually making its way into Women’s cricket. The most redeeming factor is that the women cricketers are pressing to play more Test matches and this truly augments well for the sport.
(Yajurvindra Singh is a former India cricketer.)