Former Pakistan batsman Ramiz Raja feels that there should be a two-month window only for Test matches to increase the popularity of the longest format of the game and also requested the International Cricket Council (ICC) for the same.
According to Ramiz, the ‘Test match crowd’ in Asia is going down the line as many T20 leagues have attracted the fans to follow the shorter formats of the game while in England the crowd for Test matches still remains strong.
“I feel that the ICC has a decent plan in the shape of the World Test Championship, there should be a window for that and everything else should stop for a period of two months so the best players are available to play Test cricket.” said Ramiz after a committee meeting at Lord’s on Tuesday.
He added, “It’s got to get better. In Asia, for example, because of poor Test match scheduling, the interest is dwindling. When you go back home you are never sure if you are going to have a one-Test series, a two-Test series or whether you are going to have a Test series at all.”
Raja, a member of the MCC world cricket committee, said cricket boards such as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) also had their respective roles to play.
“You have to acknowledge and respect the status of Test match cricket and it has to come from the cricket boards, in Asia specifically,” he said. “For example, MS Dhoni retired from Test cricket yet got the A-grade contract from the BCCI, Shahid Afridi retired from Test cricket yet got the A-grade contract from PCB.”
Ramiz said that a long Test league is one of the ways to save the future of Test cricket. “It is under a lot of stress in Asia but if we have a properly planned Test match championship, that’s the way out of this, otherwise we will be struggling to put aside as much money as is available for the T20 leagues.”
Meanwhile the other committee members including Ricky Ponting, Brendon McCullum, Sourav Ganguly and Kumar Sangakkara, have suggested ways to cut short five-days Test to four days as they think it might become more fan-friendly.
“Last time we met, the committee was split, with some believing we should trial four-day Test matches,” said Mike Brearley, the former England captain.
“This time, most of us thought, looking at the fact that over half the matches that got results last year got results in the fifth day, that we didn’t want Test cricket to become more boring. So from a cricket point of view, we believe they should stay five days.” he added.
The committee also focused on Olympic 2024 as they want cricket to be included in the Olympics. “It is crucial to have cricket in the Olympics because the game will be introduced to many new parts of the world, But for that to happen we have to present a unified front from cricket that we want to be included in the Games. Los Angeles would be perfect — I played cricket there and you’d get massive crowds.” said Ramiz.