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Four-day Tests vs five-day Tests: Who said what on changing cricket’s longest format

The proposal to shorten Test matches by a day has been met with strong opinions from both sides of the divide, including legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Glenn McGrath.

By: Sports Desk |
Updated: January 14, 2020 5:40:17 pm
The yaysayers (Tim Paine and Joe Root) and the naysayers (Virat Kohli and Nathan Lyon).

The proposal to shorten Test matches by a day has been met with strong opinions from both sides of the divide. The ICC is reportedly mulling four-day Tests from the 2023-2031 cycle, for which they have received support from England Cricket Board and Cricket South Africa.

In the last decade, only 51 percent of Tests saw the fifth day, but the availability of the fifth day was integral to how teams approached the preceding days as well.

THE YAYSAYERS

Joe Root: “I do think it’s worth trialing and it might not always make sense for England to play especially if its against Australia or some of the bigger sides but it might draw a bit more interest with some of the countries who struggle to get people in the ground.”

Jos Buttler: “I think the game has changed and if four-day Test cricket could preserve and potentially improve Test cricket I think it has to be looked at. I think we all love a five-day finish with all three results possible on the last day but can four-day cricket be a success? I think if it’s done properly it can be. In this day and age we have to consider all the opportunities to see how we can do what’s best for Test cricket.”

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READ | Four or five-day Tests? The arguments for and against

Tim Paine: “I think it should be taken into consideration. I dare say going back six or seven years if you let the players decide on pink ball that probably wouldn’t have happened. There is always going to be some give and take. I think there is some merit on it being in the odd Test like we did with England and Ireland. But I think the big marquee Test series, the Test championship stuff has to stay five days.”

Rassie van der Dussen: “In the calendar these days, it’s definitely something that you have to consider. The pitch does deteriorate enough in four days to get a result and I think that will also make groundsmen prepare pitches that will force results in four days.”

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Michael Vaughan: “We need to make Test cricket more relevant and more appealing. It might just bring a little more relevance if it gets shortened.”

THE NAYSAYERS

Virat Kohli: “I think the intent will not be right because then you will speak of three-day Tests, I mean where do you end? Then you will speak of Test cricket disappearing. I don’t endorse that at all. I don’t think that’s fair to the purest format of the game. How cricket started initially, and five-day Test matches was the highest of Tests you can have at the international level. According to me, it shouldn’t be altered.”

Sachin Tendulkar: “From a purist’s point of view and being an admirer of Test cricket, I don’t think it should be tinkered with. The batsmen will start thinking that it is a longer version of limited-overs match because the moment you bat till the second day lunch, you know that there’s only two and half days to go. That changes the thinking and dynamics of the game.”

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“Taking away the fifth day track from a spinner is like taking away the first day track from a fast bowler. There is no fast bowler in the world who wouldn’t want to bowl on a fifth day track. On the final session of a fifth day, any spinner would like to bowl. The ball doesn’t turn from the first day or the first session. The wicket takes time for wear and tear. The fifth day brings with it, turn, bounce and the unevenness of the surface.”

READ | Fewer the better: ECB joins Australia in four-day Test drive

Ricky Ponting: “I’m against it but I’d like to hear from the people who are pushing it what the major reason is. I don’t understand it enough and I’m very much a traditionalist, so if something’s not really badly broken then why do we need to fix it or change it? I know we’ve had a lot of four-day games the last couple of years but what I’ve noticed in the last decade is how many drawn Test matches there have been, and I just wonder if they had have been all four-day Test matches through that period of time would we have had more drawn games. I understand there is a commercial side to it, saving money and things like that and how they would start on a Thursday to finish on Sunday.”

Brett Lee: “Five for me. It might be over four days anyway but five for me.”

Michael Hussey: “I think this is going to gain some momentum. I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens in the future they’re doing a lot of work on it. But personally for me, I’m five days as well.”

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Shoaib Akhtar: “Everywhere there is this conspiracy, a theory against Asian teams these days. I feel this (reduction of Test to four days) is totally against Asian teams. I feel this idea is rubbish no one should be interested in it. ICC cannot implement this rule without the permission of BCCI. BCCI along with all the smart cricketers are standing against this idea, especially spinners from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh who dominate and thrive in a series will not let this happen.”

Misbah-ul-Haq: “A fast bowler now routinely has to bowl 17 to 18 overs in an innings but if the duration is four days then his workload will increase to 20 to 25 overs. That puts him at a greater injury risk and more importantly bowling more overs means it will take the zip out of his bowling.”

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Vernon Philander: “I hope five-day Test cricket doesn’t come to an end. There is only one format and that’s Test cricket. T20 cricketers come and go and the names come and go, Test cricket is the ultimate. Hopefully we can still see five-day Test matches. I know there has been a lot of talk about having four-day Test matches but I am a purist when it comes to cricket and I would like to see Test matches survive for five days.”

Nathan Lyon: “Ridiculous. I’m not a fan of four-day Test matches. One, there’s the weather element. But the wickets these days are probably a lot flatter than they have been in the past, so it allows teams to bat longer and to put pressure on sides. You need time for the pitch to deteriorate and bring spinners in more on day five as well.

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Glenn McGrath: “I’m very much a traditionalist I like the game the way it is. To me five days is very special and I’d hate to see it get any shorter. The introduction of pink Tests, day-night Tests is a great way to continue keeping our game fresh and moving forward. In respects to changing how many days its played, I’m actually against it. I like the way it is.”

Mickey Arthur: “Look, five-day Test cricket is the way to go (forward). Test cricket challenges you mentally, physically and technically and a lot of a time on the fifth day (a result comes). We just witnessed a very good Test match (England versus South Africa) that finished on day five,” Arthur said ahead of the third T20 here on Friday. I know, we can talk about financial pressures and that type of stuff. I think the fabric of Test cricket should not be messed (up) with. You want wickets deteriorating on day five, you want (situations) where there is lot of really good exciting draws.”

Kuldeep Yadav: “To be very honest, I would prefer five-day Test cricket. Test cricket is made for five days and I would not like to see any change in it. Something which is classic should be kept as it is.”

Virender Sehwag:Chaar din ki chandni hoti hai, Test match nahi…Jal ki machli jal main hi acchi hai, bahar nikaloge toh mar jaegi. Test cricket ko chanda mama ke pass le jaa sakte hai. We can have Day-Night Test cricket. If there is a day-night Test, maybe people will come to watch game after office. Innovations should happen but within the five days. It should not be shortened. I have always welcomed change but five day Test cricket is a romance. Bowler tries to get the batsman out by setting up a field. Batsman tries to win by building an innings…The fielder in the slip waits for the ball like a a man in love waits for a ‘yes’ from his lover…all day long. Number on jersey etc are okay but diaper and five-day cricket should be changed only when they are soiled. I don’t think there is any problem with Test cricket. It is a 142 year-old young man fit like today’s Indian team. It has a soul and this soul’s age shouldn’t be shortened. In the past five years, 31 matches have been drawn out of 223 Tests played ie; 13 per cent, a lot more than our GDP. In the last 10 year, only 83 matches were drawn out of 533 played ie; 19 per cent,” he said as he brought the house down.”

Marylebone Cricket Club: “Cricket committee and MCC World Cricket committee have recently discussed the issue and although they can see some benefits that four-day Test cricket could bring, both committees believe that Test cricket should continue to be played over five days.”

READ | ICC to discuss four-day Test proposal in March

ON THE FENCE

Sourav Ganguly: “First we will have to see the proposal, let it come and then we will see. It’s too early to say. Can’t comment just like this.”

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First published on: 02-01-2020 at 09:46:08 pm

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