Former West Indies batsman, captain and legend of the game Brian Lara has called for draws in Test matches to be done away with if the sport is to garner new audience in emerging markets and retain the attention of others. He reckons the game needs to keep evolving to stay relevant while maintaining its importance for current viewers.
Over the past few years, Test matches have lost their sheen with the advent of T20 matches and the shorter format gauging on new and younger audience. Lara believes scrapping of draws will also add to the excitement in the game.
“One of the complaints by an American is, ‘how can you play a game for five days and it ends up in a draw? I would like to maybe see results in every single Test match. I know 70 per cent of the time the game takes its natural course and you get a result, (but) maybe find a way where you structure the game … you have 450 overs in five days, come up with some formula that can bring a win at the end of it,” he told BBC.
While calling for Test matches to find a way to stay relevant, he remains a supporter of the T20 format – which grew prominence as Lara’s career faded into retirement in 2007. “I’m pro T20, because I played in a period where Test cricket was waning, the crowds were a bit smaller, and I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, lining up at 5am to watch a Test match in a packed house,” Lara said. “T20 has brought a new spectator in. I’m happy (with it) – it’s three hours, well put together, and it’s a game that has to grow in other countries, in America, in big countries … I believe (it’s) a product we can take around the place. So I’m a big fan, but at the end of the day, my career was based around Test cricket and I’m very, very happy it was that way,” he added.
Somewhat ironically, Lara’s West Indies has suffered most with the rise of T20 cricket as Test cricket culture and support has dwindled. Many of the star players from the Caribbean have opted to play in T20 leagues across the world as Test cricket continues to suffer. Even the audience numbers have reflected that with many thronging to stadiums for Caribbean Premier League (CPL) as Tests see poor attendance.