Can Test Championship turn out to be a shot in the arm for Test Cricket?
The ICC’s (International Cricket Council) World Test Championship is up and running with fans having witnessed some quality performances from two of the most competitive teams in test Cricket at the moment. Yes, we are talking about the Ashes series which began last month. The series is squared 1-1 with the fourth test being played at Old Trafford. On the other hand, India crushed West-Indies 2-0 in the two-match series which was played in the Carribean recently.
The men in blue dominated the two-match series which will boost their confidence ahead of their next series against South-Africa at home in October. Elsewhere, New-Zealand levelled the series 1-1 by beating Sri-Lanka in the second test of the two-match series in Sri-lanka, while Afghanistan is playing Bangladesh in Chittagong.
The International Cricket Council’s initiative to conduct test championship and its proposal to introduce it in the Future Tours Programme (FTP) was hailed by many ex-cricketers, experts and fans worldwide when it was first announced. This decision will definitely define test cricket as the ultimate level for any cricketer to accomplish himself.
It will also boost the popularity of test cricket which was slowly diminishing since the last decade or so due to the advent of T20 leagues being played across the globe. The test championship might just play a significant role in making test cricket interesting. Before ICC came up with this proposal, it consulted some ex-cricketers on how to make the championship successful. Some players suggested that the matches be played on a home and away basis and there should be two groups consisting of 5 teams each including two associate teams.
There were opinions regarding the preparation of pitches which nowadays is batsmen friendly especially in the Indian subcontinent. The wickets should be helpful to the batsmen as well as the bowlers, in other words, there should be an even contest between the bat and the ball. ICC has also come up with an idea of conducting day and night which would eventually evoke much more interest among the spectators.
Conducting day and night tests will prove to be quite decisive for test cricket to dominate other forms of cricket and above all, it will attract large crowds. In the ongoing Ashes series too, matches have been scheduled in such a manner that the game starts in mid-week which eventually goes through the entire weekend.
During the 1970s, 1980’s and 90’s every cricketer’s dream was to represent his country in test matches, which was considered the ultimate level to succeed as a top-flight cricketer, but nowadays T20 cricket is given a lot of importance. Due to this test cricket has taken a backseat. In fact, some countries aren’t getting enough crowds even during One-day internationals.
In this case, the England Cricket Board (ECB) has taken the right decision which many ex-players think has helped them build a strong test team. Some of their key players play only test cricket and are paid more than some of their players who play only One-day internationals or T20’s.
Introduction of neutral umpires is another thing which the ICC will introduce in this championship. It will also provide a perfect foundation for some of the lesser-known teams like Afghanistan or Ireland to gain some much-needed experience and exposure by playing against some of the heavyweights of the game. Test Cricket will also provide exposure to the younger players and will test their temperament.
Playing in different conditions will be challenging for some upcoming players, but it will help them improve their technique and how to face challenging situations. It will help them gain valuable experience by playing alongside some of the finest players. Above all, it will help them to grow as a player.
Modern-day cricketers need to understand that playing test cricket should be their ultimate aim. It is also the responsibility of every cricket board to ensure that test cricket is treated at par like the other forms of cricket. Although ICC has taken a step in the right direction, it also needs to introspect that the longer format is given equal importance like the T20. ICC has surely come up with a wonderful idea and now it is up to the fans to keep Test cricket alive.
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