CSA boss favours 4-day Tests

2016-07-11 10:27
Haroon Lorgat (Gallo Images)

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 of days.

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 Championship.

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, stressed.

“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 luxury.”

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.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    csa  |  haroon lorgat  |  cricket


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