Cricket Test Length on Chopping Block
Five days has been the norm since 1979. It’s been a good idea since 1979. Until now. Cricket South Africa has proposed staging a four day test against Zimbabwe and they will be bringing the idea before the ICC at the Chief Executives Conference in New Zealand next week.
What’s more, they’re very likely to get their way. Key role players from England, South Africa, Sri-Lanka and New Zealand have all been batting in support of the idea for the last year. The reasoning behind the idea is that since so few games outlast 400 overs in anyway; you might as well cram everything into four days instead of five. With a little help from slightly longer play until later in the day, it certainly is more than possible to get the job done without the additional day. The question remains: do we really want to?
Money, Money, Money
It’s no secret, money is what makes the sports world go round. Which is obviously not an exclusively bad thing. Only when it becomes the sole driving force behind an otherwise poor decision. No surprise here, money is what’s driving the move to drop the extra day. After all, a three match series can now be crammed into eighteen days, unlike the usual going on twenty six days. New Zealand’s David White is all in support of this particular perk that will become a reality should the change come to pass.
Sri-Lanka’s Thilanga Sumathipala cites a different reason for his support, but it basically comes down to the same thing. His logic dictates that if play is extended to include an additional 45 overs per day, the matches will lure larger crowds – crowds that would now include the coming-home-from-work crowd.
England’s Colin Graves sees a lot of merit in the idea too, especially from a direct expenditure point of view. The costs associated with broadcasting and the general expenditures relating to the grounds will be cut considerable without the extra day in the mix.
The Flip Side
It’s interesting to note that those who disagree with the idea are those who stand to benefit the least, financially at least, from the shorter arrangement: the fans and the players themselves. Ironically, especially players from South Africa have spoken out against the proposed change, saying that the fifth day is what makes test cricket what it is.
South African player Faf du Plessis has perhaps voiced his problem with the idea most poignantly, saying that most of the truly great test matches had gone on until the very last hour on the fifth day and that that, more than anything else, was what was special about test cricket.