The BCCI will oppose the idea of four-day Tests, should the ICC propse it. A BCCI official told this paper that the Indian board stood by what Virender Sehwag said at the MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture on Sunday.
“This has been mentioned by Virender Sehwag also at the Pataudi Lecture. I think nobody (in the BCCI) is interested in this four-day Tests idea. I don’t think Test cricket will change to a four-day affair. I don’t think the BCCI will support it,” the Board official told The Indian Express.
Yesterday, while delivering the Pataudi Lecture, Sehwag was at his sarcastic best, as he touched upon the four-day Tests issue. “Chaar din ki chandni hoti hai, Test match nahi… Jal ki machli jal mein hi acchi hai, bahar nikaloge toh mar jaegi (the moon shines for four days, but not Test cricket. A fish out of water is a dead fish).”
The former India opener opined that experiments in the long-form should be made within the realm of five days. “We can have day-night Tests. If there’s a day-night Test, maybe people will come to watch the game after office. Innovations should happen but within the five days. It shouldn’t be shortened.”
The world cricket’s governing body is reportedly eager to push for a mandatory abbreviated version of Test cricket as part of the World Test Championship from 2023 onwards. The ICC cricket committee, headed by Anil Kumble, is likely to have a formal discussion on this during its meeting in two months’ time. On the face of it, the ICC wants to make four-day Tests mandatory as a measure to create windows for its own events. Plans are afoot to have eight flagship events during the next eight-year rights cycle, starting 2023.
India captain Virat Kohli has already given the thumbs down to the idea. “I think the intent will not be right then 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,” he had said.
The Indian team head coach Ravi Shastri has called the idea “nonsense”. And even though the Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive Kevin Roberts has spoken about giving it a “serious consideration” and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) mulled on a “cautious” backing, players from the respective countries have voiced their disapproval.
Following his Newlands heroics last week that helped England win the second Test against South Africa in the final session of the game, Ben Stokes, the world’s best allrounder, had batted for the traditional, five-day format. “It’s why five-day cricket should always be around. Games like these are unforgettable. We will remember it for a long time, so will South Africa and it will go down as one of the greats,” Stokes had said at the post-match presentation.
Australian legend Ricky Ponting, too, has opposed it. “I’m against it but I’d like to hear from the people who are pushing it what the major reason is,” he told cricket.com.au.
The ICC reportedly wants to make four-day Tests mandatory with an eye to dwindling stadium attendances and also the fact that more than 60 per cent of matches over the past couple of years have finished inside four days. Then again, with the BCCI not in favour, the idea runs the risk of being nipped in the bud.