The buzz in cricketing world is about the recently concluded Test series between India and England. Although, there was a lot of hype surrounding the clash of the top Test playing teams in the world, it actually turned out to be a rather dull affair with only one team dishing out performances worthy of a true champion team. However, this article won`t dwell on the analysis of the series.
In the past few years with the emergence of T20 cricket, there has been a lot of debate as to how Test cricket is going to be a thing of the past and how the shortest format will prove to be the way ahead, a true reflection of modern times where people love things in small packages. Purists, on the other hand are adamant. For them, the longest format is sacrosanct, the true test of character, skill, temperament and determination. Not getting into the thick of the debate, it is for the fans to decide what they want. There are both kinds of cricket lovers and nobody is forcing anything on them. However, a certain cricket board has been drawing flak for burdening its players with too much cricket.
Keeping them aside, in its effort to win the hearts and minds of the modern generation of cricket fans and followers, ICC has been working hard on this front like introducing day and night format or using different coloured balls (that will be a necessity for a day-night contest) efforts to produce sporting tracks et al. The latest idea that has been doing the rounds for quite some time has been the introduction of a quadrennial World Test Championship.
The concept behind this is that the four top Test playing nations, probably in 2013, would be playing against each others in play-offs with the respective winners advancing to the final where the team emerging victorious would be crowned as the official World Test champions.
In order to provide an equal opportunity to each of the Test playing nations to get a shot at clinching the top four spots in the rankings, ICC`s Future Tour programme calls for all nations playing against each other at least once on a home and away basis. However, they are free to play each other outside the FTP as well.
The obvious question that arises is what if there is a draw?
ICC is still working out on this scenario as Test matches produce a lot of draws. The possible solutions projected are:
In case of a drawn semi-final, the team placed higher in the ranking tables would advance to the final which is not appealing considering the fact that such a scenario would inevitably lead the team with better ranking to play for a draw instead of risking a defeat. This would ultimately lead to a drab contest, which then brings us to the root of the problem- Test cricket has the knack of producing dull contest with no results even after the completion of a whopping 450 overs.
An extension of this would be seen in the final as well. In case of the final being unable to produce a result, the team higher on the rankings table would be declared the champions.
The last time such an effort was put into execution by the cricket council dates back to 1939, when England and South Africa clashed in Durban. Interestingly, even after stretching to nine days, the match failed to produce any result. The reason, England had to catch a boat to reach home on time leading the match to be abandoned.
The motive behind the re-introduction of Timeless Tests is that since such a contest can go on for uncertain period, it will definitely produce result, unless some external factors cause it to be abandoned.
However, since there isn`t any incentive in such a match to score quickly, the batsman of the likes of Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, and Rahul Dravid will take all the time at their disposal to work the ball for a single or two. This again brings us back to square one. A possible solution to this can be bouncy track that has something for the bowlers. At least, the fall of wickets will ensure some sort of direction to the contest.
The attendance might be an issue since not everyone is blessed with taking days off from work to watch a Test match continuously for a week or so.
One of the problems that such an effort may face is that of weather as well. To tackle such a problem, it would have to be made sure that the nation hosting such an event has favourable weather conditions that might not interfere with the course of the play.
ICC has said that it will work out the technicalities and draw a clear picture before the end of this year. These wrinkles need to be ironed out so that the time and effort that is being spent to increase the appeal of a Test match doesn`t prove to be dud.