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The latest announcement from the International Cricket Council’s board meeting, in Auckland earlier this month to try the four-day version of Test matches, has met with two opinions.
Over the past few years, declining footfalls in Test arenas has become a concern for the ICC and other boards. The reason has been the growing interest in the 20-overs formats and the success of T20 leagues.
This innovative idea is expected to counter the influence of T20 cricket and keep the crowd interested in the game’s vintage format. Many have backed this move considering current circumstances, but the traditionalists have looked sceptic about its adoption.
Proteas Back Traditional Format
The first four day Test will be played between South Africa and Zimbabwe in Port Elizabeth on Boxing Day later this year. But, the hosts are not entirely happy with the experiment. South Africa skipper Faf Du Plessis and opener Dean Elgar have stated that the one should not tinker with the longest format.
“I am a fan of five-day Test cricket. I believe the great Test matches have gone to the last hour of the last day on day five. That’s what is so special about Test cricket. In four-day cricket or first-class cricket, it does feel easier because there are only four days,” du Plessis was quoted as saying after the end of the first Test against Bangladesh.
Elgar also echoed similar opinions stating that he is a purist at heart and wants the format to remain as the same. He even tried to put forward the point that Test crowd in many countries continues unaffected despite all the talks.
“I don’t think you should tinker with something that’s not broken. If you play in Australia, if you play in England, even if you play in South Africa against the relatively big nations you still get very good crowds,” Elgar said.
Australian Coach Darren Lehmann Open To Experiments
Australia coach Darren Lehmann has backed the idea and feels that the longevity of Tests can be put to an experiment.
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However, senior players in his side have different opinions, especially from captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner.
The ICC has left it up to the Boards to schedule the matches until mid-2019 but, at the same time has assured that the traditional format will be preserved in the proposed nine-team Test world championship which also begins in 2019.
Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland has also expressed support for the trial period but has indicated that none of Australia’s upcoming Test matches would include a four-day fixture.