Tests in England could be pruned from five days to four days

Tests in England could be pruned from five days to four days

What’s the story?

After the advent of Twenty20 cricket, Tests have come under the scanner purely because of their diminishing viewership and popularity among the fans. With the passage of time, the longest format of the sport has gone through some serious changes - Day/Night Tests being one of them. The format might see further modifications in the future, as the England Cricket Board (ECB) is planning to make Test cricket a four-day affair, post the 2019 Ashes series.

In a recent interaction with the media, Colin Graves, the Chairman of the ECB, spoke about the scheduling of games. “Every Test match would start on a Thursday, with Thursday and Friday being corporate days and then Saturday and Sunday the family days,” he said.

The Chairman also highlighted its feasibility from the point of view of profits. “From a cost point of view, you'd lose that fifth day, which would save a lot of money from the ground's point of view and the broadcasters... I would look at that,” Graves added.

In case you didn’t know…

England have played a total of seven Test matches this summer - four against South Africa and three against West Indies. Out of them, two matches lasted five days. As the years have passed, the percentage of games going the full distance has reduced significantly.

Since the start of the 21st century, 58 percent of Tests have gone to the fifth day as compared to 77 percent in the 1980s.

The heart of the matter

Apart from Graves, the Chief Executive of the ECB, Tom Harrison, also supported the introduction of four-day Test cricket. However, every change comes with a set of pros and cons. While four-day games might make Test cricket a bit more intriguing, the number of draws may also increase at an alarming rate.

Teams have also suffered quite a few times because of slow over-rates and hence the players have remained unconvinced. Moreover, players would need to play under lights with the red ball, which could turn out to be a nuisance. 

What’s next?

England are scheduled to tour Australia for a five-match Test series, starting on 23rd November at the Gabba in Brisbane.

Author’s take

There are positives and negatives to every change. Every new innovation that is proposed needs to go through detailed analysis before it can be implemented. Cricket is a dynamic sport and changes are inevitable in order for it to develop.

However, in the quest to develop the sport, one should try and ensure that the percentages of positive outcomes are higher than the negative ones. 

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