By Mayank Kashyap
Cricket around the globe is experiencing a quick change, specially the Test format, which once used to be the abbot of this game. Five days with fifteen sessions and almost four hundred and fifty overs of play used to check the caliber and the real mental and physical fitness of a player. But too much of experiment, lots of expectations in a short span of time and the advent of the Twenty 20 format has now raised a big problem for the Test cricket. Empty stands and declining T.R.Ps (Television Rating Point) are evidences to prove it.
Recently the Introduction of the day/night tests with pink ball (Timings like One Day Internationals) gained a widespread acclamation of the critics and lovers of the game. But the question again is how much did it help the game, or did it help in any aspect? First International organization of such a kind was between Australia and New Zealand during the Trans Tasman Trophy in Adelaide in 2016, followed by a few domestic trials. This test between Australia and New Zealand didn’t last even for the five allotted days but ended in the third day itself. None of the two teams even crossed or made a 250 score in any of the innings. Australia at length won by three wickets.
Any first such organization in India was in June 2016, a domestic match between Mohan Began and the Bhowanipure club in the historical Eden Gardens ground. Bowlers again proved to be dominant and Md. Sami helped the Mohan Began team to register a victory in a low scoring Game. Wriddhiman Saha also featured in this match. Later Duleep Trophy matches this month were also played in this Day and Night format.
The common thing was that batsmen didn’t seem comfortable and the bowlers in every match looked dominant under the milky light. It’s futile to discuss whether this is the future of test cricket or not, as the future of this very genre itself is under suspicion. Gone are those January mornings where the bowler used to run with the ball in his hands tearing the mist in those delayed test matches during those foggy winters. Now mostly fixtures of nearly all the Test playing nations are mostly concentrated to the One dayers and the twenty 20. The most astonishing fact is that the introduction of the one dayers and twenty 20 was not planned or experimented but was nearly a compromise. Even the Indian team didn’t want to send team India in the twenty 20 World Cup of 2007, but at length it sent its team just because it was an ICC organized tournament and what India did there, now everyone knows.
But it was the advent of tournaments like IPL, Big Bash league, Champions League twenty 20 etc. that now is proving to be a real threat to the Tests. Somewhere around the 2009-10 season experts said that twenty 20 will eat up the ODIs as well and the England & Wales cricket board ‘erased’ the ODI format and introduced a pro 40 (40 over game) format instead. It looked as if the match is a D/L game whenever I used to tune to it randomly, before being addicted to watch the new format (JOKES APART). But at length the One Day format survived these ‘Multiple attacks’ and even today it is efficient in pulling the crowd, however the test format is still struggling. New hope was seen when in India BCCI used to put these test games in so called small cities or the towns of India, like Kanpur. This worked wonders and stands were seen full. But what about the other test playing nations? Even Australia and England are facing the same crisis. Let’s see how long this ‘Day/Night’ test carries?
It is evident in the history that how ‘too many appearances’ and excess of experimentation leads to destruction. Change is a rule and is necessary but only in accord to Time, neither too quickly nor too slowly. Cricket games nowadays are on most of the occasions one sided, and favoring the batsmen. That’s why we see mammoth totals like 400 being chased in one day games. That competition between bat and the ball is now implicit. It’s not an exaggeration to say that even the World cricket is under threat. The game, with India being as its cornerstone needs some real care, while we recently saw totals like 700s in the Duleep Trophy. These batsmen when go abroad to play tests struggle even to survive a session. It’s not too late and to save the game and restore the glory it had once, when it was flourishing, being the talk of the town in these test playing nations when it even challenged the viewership of its mighty counterpart, football.