Cape Town - Cricket South Africa seems likely to be increasingly
well disposed toward the idea of pepping up Test cricket, in its longer-term
interests, by reducing matches from five days to four.
CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat has admitted to Sport24
that he personally has “come around” from a once more traditionalist viewpoint
on the time-honoured but endangered format, seeing the value of potentially
squeezing more – and perhaps even more urgent - cricket into a tighter number
He believes this should be part of the comprehensive
repositioning of Test cricket that is currently being discussed by the International
Cricket Council and its Full Members.
Lorgat forms part of an ICC working group that is
envisioning a restructure of international cricket to include a Test
The game in general is challenged to a mounting degree by
the proliferation of Twenty20 tournaments across the globe, and Test cricket is
placed into shrinking window periods, given the lengthy scheduled time required
to complete each match within a series.
“Test cricket is and should remain the jewel in the game’s
crown,” Lorgat, recently returned from the ICC annual meeting in Edinburgh,
“But in this vastly-changed, fast-paced day and age you have
to be increasingly conscious of staying proactive to ensure the sustainability
of the most traditional format – I believe it would be a mistake for
Test-lovers like me to simply assume the game can continue unaltered for
several decades, while it slips quietly toward possible extinction.
“Test cricket has had to move with the times before, and
more than survived the changes - think of the timeless Tests of old and also
the presence once of rest days during matches, which became just too much of a
Partly due to calendar constraints under the current,
five-day format, many modern Test series are curtailed to two matches, which
increases the risk of series stalemate.
The Proteas soon entertain New Zealand in a two-Test series
in late winter, with the matches scheduled for Kingsmead (from August 19) and
then SuperSport Park (August 27).
Lorgat said a switch to four-day Tests would mean, for
example, that three games rather than a pair could instead be fitted into a
three-week period: the clashes could be contested over three consecutive
Thursday-to-Sunday periods, with suitable three-day breaks (Monday to
Wednesday) between each Test.
Former Australian captains like Mark Taylor and Greg
Chappell have already urged consideration of four-day Tests - a move also
backed by commentator and leg-spin legend Shane Warne.
Warne said last year on Melbourne radio station SEN: “I
reckon it’s time for four-day Test cricket. I would make it 100 overs a day
(from the current 90 over five days, meaning a future total of up to 400 overs
in a match instead of the status quo of 450 - Sport24).
“I’d have two half-hour breaks rather than a 40-minute lunch
and 20-minute tea, and I’d extend (time) by about half an hour to get those
extra overs in. I think that’s going to be more appealing for people.”
Shortening Tests by a day would probably also prompt the ICC
to get much tougher on slow overs rates, as several overs a day frequently get
frittered away anyway in the five-day landscape through tardiness from the team
in the field.
Lorgat also believes more creative and attack-minded cricket
might follow in a four-day scenario, with teams keen to strike for wins to earn
championship points and therefore less inclined in future to occupy the crease
for the best part of the first two days batting first, to amass a total from
which they should bank the insurance of not losing the game.
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