The President of the International Cricket Council (ICC), Shashank Manohar, has made a statement that Test cricket is dying and that the Test Championship, due to start after the Cricket World Cup later in 2019, needs to be the saviour.
The ICC has always stated that Test cricket remains their number one product and priority. However, they have only paid lip service to this statement and let the world game drift with no structure to ensure the balance between limited overs and Test cricket.
It is a pity that the ICC President took the negative route on what he thought the state of Test cricket was when he should have positively enhanced the ICC’s strategy around Test cricket with the new imitative of a Test Championship. Also, why did he not place the spotlight on the re-emergence of the West Indies team that easily beat England, the ICC’s number one ranked Test team, in the Caribbean? Doing it with four fast bowlers brought back great memories of a bygone West Indian team that never lost a Test series in 15 years.
The Test match played last weekend at Kingsmead that Sri Lanka won by one wicket was a great advert for Test cricket and showed that Test cricket is certainly not dying. In the modern era attendances have become a problem in certain countries because of the world we live in.
However, Test cricket must not be judged by crowd attendances only, but also by television audiences and the interest it generates nationally. Test cricket has plenty of support not necessarily reflected in attendances, because it truly represents the best from cricketing nations and their cricketing history. One-day cricket is about the World Cup. Bi-lateral series mean very little, except commercially, and have no historical value.
The ICC needs to protect the integrity of Test cricket to ensure that it is sustainable and valued. This they have not done very well by promoting Ireland and Afghanistan to Test status. All they have done is compound their problems with Zimbabwe who financially can’t afford to play Test cricket because they are an unattractive team due to their standards.
If cricket is to survive then Test cricket is fundamental to the ICC’s cause. It remains to be seen if the Test Championship will energise Test cricket and create a new era for the game. Personally, I think it is more important to ensure a high quality and competitive Test series on an ongoing basis.