December 12, 2009

Test Cricket : A T20 Twist

December 12, 2009 Posted by Vijay 2 comments
India sure managed to scale the expectation and reached the top of the ICC Test cricket ratings. India, like Australia and South Africa has been the only Test playing nation to have consistently performed in away conditions with victories. In that perspective, India deserved to be among the top 3. But, the very best? I wouldn't think so. India still has a weak bowling attack, and there is no certainty or surety of a return to form of Ishant Sharma. Moreover, Harbhajan Singh's performances have been patchy to say the least. What India surely is missing though is an express pace bowler to bowl at 145 clicks consistently for a entire spell of 4 or 5 overs. Until India finds consistency in its bowling attack, the Indian team will continue to rely heavily on its batting.

Even so, the top spot in the ratings look like more transient in nature, because of the lack of test matches India would be playing. BCCI has now asked South African cricket board to play two test matches, by dropping two one day internationals in India next year. While it would seem that this maybe an opportune moment to give a much needed fillip to sagging fortunes of test cricket, BCCI surely wants to give the Indian team a fair opportunity to continue atop the test cricket ratings. While these are certainly welcome thoughts, one cannot but be reminded of the lack of sponsorship interest for the Indian cricket team. If the BCCI can bring in more crowds to see the Indian cricket team perform well and retain its top ranking in test matches, there could be an opportunity to win back elusive sponsors.

All said and done, there is certainly a deep concern for the future of test cricket. BCCI's moves are certainly positive, but as I mentioned, seem more like being opportunistic in nature. What test cricket really needs, is to have the spice and pace of a T20. Test cricket for today's youth and fast paced life is more like an Indian documentary or art film. Dull, drab and boring. While a Bollywood movie is spiced up enough with drama, passion and more than a good dose of titillation. This is precisely what test cricket needs. A spicing up, even if it be over a 5 day period.

What I have been thinking of, is to eke in facets of the 20 over game into Text cricket fold. Following is my thought process and the reasons they can attract good crowd responses.

Compulsory 20 overs of powerplay in a day's play. It would be split into ten overs apiece. The first 10 has to be the very first 10 of the morning's play, and the second 10  has to be the very first 10 of the second session of play after lunch. There would be no option for either team to choose when to exercise them.

Now for the specifics in these 10 over slots. Firstly, the batting team has to score at 4 per over for each of the overs in the 10 overs slots. Failing which, each such over will result in a 2 run deduction from the batting team's score. Unlike one dayers or T20s there will not be any fielding restrictions. This will retain the charm of Test Cricket. Similarly, every wicket the bowling team takes will automatically add 5 runs to the bowling team's score. So, if the batting team is chasing 50 runs, a wicket which falls in the 10 over slot, would mean additional 5 runs to score.

Now for the benefits of such a system. Scoring at 4 per over maybe a norm in test cricket these days. But even now, scoring 4 per over at the start of a session is a challenge. The incentive for the bowling team for each wicket it takes in those 10 overs will encourage setting up attacking fields as well. This will mean, either more runs, or more wickets. But definitely an even contest, while still keeping the spectators engrossed in the game. After all, either the crowd wants to see boundaries or wickets. The most significant impact would be on the result of such matches. 20 such overs everyday, can change the course of a match, and will prove more result oriented. If nothing, dull boring draws won't be as many, since the instances of preserving wickets would make it a nail biter, especially in the last day scenario.

I am no cricket expert to delve into cricketing rules and find the pros and cons. I am sure instances such as rain days etc. will have to be accounted for. But as a cricket fan, I feel something like this will retain the interest in test cricket. Moreover, my suggestion above for 10 over slots in the first and second session would automatically retain spectators in the stadia for almost an entire day.I did not suggest this for the last session, because more often than not,  it would either be exciting (close draw,a chase etc.) or a dull or boring end (watchful towards end of play) . I am quite sure such a shake up will bring in more spectators, and force the batting and bowling teams to be more attacking and retain Test Cricket's charm.

2 comments:

prashanth said...

I see a lot of contradictions in your blog. First, you want to maintain the charm of test cricket by introducing 20 overs of powerplay in a day's play. This is the last thing on earth that maintains test cricket's charm. The game is so beautiful to watch when there are fielders around the bat and the batsman still having second thoughts of hitting over the top. Second, asking a team to score at 4 runs per over is atrocious. I can see your liking for the shortest format of the game, but let T20 be the only spoiled version of the game. And finally by deducting runs for slow run rate or by adding runs to the bowling team, am sure you are not talking about cricket at all. I know its tough for many people like you to adjust between T20 and test cricket. For all you people, please don't try to tinker with the oldest and the sweetest format of the game. All these new inventions can be thought of in ODIs. This does not mean that i hate T20s and ODIs. But after all test cricket is CRICKET.

Vijay said...

Prashanth.

please dont mistake the context by the mention of T20 and powerplay. If you read through my post its just the names to it that I have given. I clearly mention the need for the bowling side to take more risks in the first and second sessions. This will encourage the batsmen as well as the bowlers. I am NOT talking of the ODI or T20 powerplays AT ALL !

In my post I have clearly said - "Unlike one dayers or T20s there will not be any fielding restrictions. This will retain the charm of Test Cricket. Similarly, every wicket the bowling team takes will automatically add 5 runs to the bowling team's score. So, if the batting team is chasing 50 runs, a wicket which falls in the 10 over slot, would mean additional 5 runs to score."

Request you to dis-associate with T20 thought and read the post in a test cricketing context ! It is not about tinkering. It is about making it more exciting.

Greatly appreciate your comments !

-Vijay