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Passion Over Patience: Test Cricket in 2015

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Test Cricket has found it difficult to sustain the interest of the modern day cricket fan. It spans over five days, is usually played during the working hours of the day (while daylight lasts), has historically featured more dot balls than balls off which runs have been scored, and even features the classic white cricket outfit, something that has become rare in these days of major sponsors for cricket teams. Perhaps this is spilling over to the players themselves as now the strike rate for a batsman in test cricket is much higher than it used to be previously.

Take the case of India as a nation that consumes and plays test cricket. It is often said that Test cricket in India crawls for three days with seemingly nothing happening before suddenly exploding to life. This used to be the norm, definitely, and it even saw a significant rise in viewership and ticket sales during those last two days of a test match. But what happens when Tests do not even last three days? Time frames get compressed, that’s what happens. Both teams play each of their two innings at lightning speed, reminiscent more of T20 than Tests. During the recent India – South Africa test match a similar scenario unfolded. The first Test between India and South Africa in Mohali finished in the post-tea session on the third day with the hosts outclassing the visitors by 108 runs on a slow and low wicket at the Punjab Cricket Assocation IS Bindra stadium. It was like Test cricket had gone asleep for one hour on the third morning of the match, and in its place was the apparition of T20. India lost eight wickets for 39 runs in their 2nd innings, and yet bowled South Africa out to take a 1-0 lead in the series. This was the fourth straight three-day finish in Tests in India.

In fact, even Sunil Gavaskar commented on Saturday that it is not a poor advertisement for cricket if a Test match finishes inside three days and that such results are coming more often in recent years since the players nowadays lack the patience required to survive in the longer format.

Quoting Gavaskar –

“Getting a result in a Test match is actually a good advertisement. The host association, the TV, the fans would want the match to go to the fifth day. But it not that it is happening in India only. In Australia also the matches finish early.”

However, it is unlikely that 3-day finishes to 5-day test matches are going to become a norm. To survive in a test match over the long term players especially batsmen do need to work more on their footwork.

After all, not for nothing was a Rahul Dravid known as The Wall.

 

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