Last week my colleague wrote a column saying that playing Test cricket over four days would destroy the integrity of Test cricket and he is absolutely right. Test cricket has worked for 140 years and continues to work in the modern era, easily coexisting with One Day and T20 cricket. Test cricket is not broken, so why try and fix it?
The idea of playing four day Test cricket was first mooted by Colin Graves when he became Chairman of the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in 2015. Why would a Chairman of the ECB raise such a fundamental matter in a country where Test cricket is such a success and its biggest threat is the weather? It can only be for his ego and legacy without thinking the matter through, to the detriment of the game. If there is one country that needs five day Test cricket, it is England because of the amount of rain that falls during the summer.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) is also a supporter of four day Test cricket because of the poor attendances in this country. However, instead of trying to change the fundamentals, CSA should rather focus on improving the scheduling and marketing of the Proteas’ Test matches. Losing the fifth day of a Test match won’t improve the attendances or interest in Test cricket.
The rationale of the supporters for curtailing Test cricket is to have two corporate days on a Thursday and Friday and two public days on a Saturday and Sunday. All this makes sense but if the Test is played over a period of inclement weather and time is lost, or on a flat wicket making a result impossible, it will ruin the support for the Test. There is nothing worse than a drawn Test and the fifth day is the insurance against this happening. All Test matches should start on a Thursday and end on a Monday, except where public holidays are involved.
The International Cricket Council is once again not leading from the front on this matter and wants to leave it to the participating countries to decide. They are the governing body and should rule on these matters that have an impact on the integrity of the game and its future.