Test Cricket - Is the game finally up?

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Test Cricket - Is the game finally up?

Postby Aidan11 » Sat Jan 23, 2016 7:57 pm

It's a question that cricket lovers have asked for years - Is test cricket dying? Fortunately there are still many out there who still love the five day battle between bat, ball and psychology. However, since the invention of T20 cricket, more and more times has the question come up.

T20 began in England in 2003 as a sideshow. It was seen as something to bring in a new audience to cricket who might get hook on the game and watch the longer versions of 50 overs and first class cricket. At the same time bringing in some much needed money into the game. Nothing wrong with that. The ECB even said themselves that they wouldn't increase the number of matches risking overkill. That soon changed though.

Over in India they weren't too fussed on this format at first. They seemed reluctant to get involved with the whole circus of T20 but they relented and were part of the first T20 World Championships. They only went and won it. India fell in love with the game and soon a T20 league was formed...The Indian Cricket League. This failed to get the rubber stamp of the BCCI and the ICC so it was unauthorised. But it was popular. Soon the official IPL was formed and was a huge success. This resulted in other leagues forming around the world and thanks to the mass media available today cricket watchers can virtually see every ball of every tournament. The leagues don't clash so the best players can hawk themselves off around the world earning big bucks for a few weeks work.

The Big Bash is pulling up huge trees, One game this season was watched at the ground by more than 80,000 spectators. Not even Man Utd get those kind of attendances. Australia also televises a Women's Big Bash tournament which has had very good viewing figures. Sponsors are falling over themselves to be part of it. So where does this leave England?

The English cricket spectator is a different kettle of fish. We are happy to wander down to our local county ground by 11am on a summer's morning to watch the start of a four day game that sometimes wont finish until 7pm due to slow over rates and maybe less than 300 runs have been scored in the day. Roughly the same as what you would get in a 3 hour T20 match. But that's how we like it. Cricket at a gentler pace. Yes there is also the 50 0ver game but it knows its place. So despite the rest of the world hitting sixes for fun in a fast-food version of the game at least we will always have our test cricket. Right?

Maybe, but in 10-15 years time I worry that what we see is a watered down version. There have been calls to reduce test cricket to 4 days instead of 5. Will T20 across the world become so saturated that the best players wont be available for test cricket as they are earning 10 times more in the current T20 league? The ECB are hell bent on wanting a piece of the action but as yet have failed to come up with a formula that brings in the kind of money that India and Australia are doing. For the successful cricketer T20 is a much easier way of earning big money and fame. The ECB have met a lot of resistance from the counties and spectators alike. They have therefore relented. For the time being anyway.

However it seems inevitable that they will eventually get their way. New brooms like Andrew Strauss seem very keen to make T20 work here. A big tournament played at the height of summer during the school holidays in one block with all the razzmatazz of the IPL and BBL. Reduce the rest of the county championship to the point where that becomes the sideshow. The traditionalists will be annoyed and may even stay away but who cares? There's a new breed of cricket watcher now - the one who is young, comes with a load of mates on a Friday night and gets p*ssed on several pints of beer in between shovelling down a couple of hot dogs while jeering at an incoming batsman whose strike rate was only 86. Who knows, maybe even football-style chats may come into the game. But the important thing is they have paid a lot of money to get in and spent a lot more inside the ground so it's all right.

Supposing it fails though? What then? Find another crook willing to front up $20 million to win a single match?

I fear the traditionalists like myself are fighting a losing battle. I'll still keep fighting though. The war is not over yet.
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Re: Test Cricket - Is the game finally up?

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Sun Jan 24, 2016 12:19 pm

Well, not yet.

If domestic teams get more revenue from T20, then they'll play more. And if more people enjoy T20, then that's justifiable.

The consequence is that people like us won't be satisfied. Though the majority will be. If there is a qualitative reason why our relationship with long form cricket has more value than the T20 fan's to their game, then that's hard to define.

The risk is that first class cricket will shrink back, and T20 then prove transitory, because long cricket can't happen again. If it goes, it goes.

Test cricket doesn't seem to be at risk from T20 at international level. At the moment, there isn't much international T20. Maybe from 50 over. If the international game is cut back a bit because domestic cricket is strong, then that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

One problem recently has the appearance that Test match skills are being lost by the players. It's possible that in future, roads will be encouraged and long games become two innings limited overs matches. Which'll be crap, but might allow the T20 skills to cross over to Tests sufficiently for the games to work.
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Re: Test Cricket - Is the game finally up?

Postby Alviro Patterson » Thu Apr 07, 2016 2:41 pm

As long as there players wanting to develop their red ball skills (Glenn Maxwell, Aaron Finch, Travis Head just to name a few) and associate nations who desire test match status, then test cricket will always have a future.

There is more to cricket than just six hitting, there is nothing more intriguing than seeing a bowler constantly bowling a hostile spell. Overpromote T20 cricket in it's current form (heavy bats and boundaries in) then the art of bowling will be in terminal decline and therefore the game disintegrates. Bowlers need overs under their belt to become effective and gain rhythm, a skill you can't practice in training and the best place to bowl lots of overs is by playing First Class cricket.
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Re: Test Cricket - Is the game finally up?

Postby Toby F » Fri Apr 08, 2016 6:59 pm

While T20 is popular, the fact that most tournaments are franchise based will always leave a place for the more traditional cricket fan. I can't follow the Bushrangers in T20 and have no interest in made up teams with a rotating player list. It is why I have no interest in the big bash, but always try to keep an eye on the Sheffield Shield. Fan loyalty is a factor that should not be ignored.
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