With the influence of 2020 in drawing players away from their national side and convincing them to go T-TOAL.. (that is a strict diet of 2020) something has to give if test cricket is to also survive at a high enough standard. I think that people will always love test cricket but too many players are choosing or being allowed to focus on the shorter format. An increasing phenomenon; especially amongst quick bowlers and some spinners is to pack in the first class game and concentrate on T20 . In recent years ultra quick bowlers like Malinga, Tait, Lee and later on in their Careers Akhtar and Bond deciding to pack in test and first class cricket for one day and more often than not t20.
I love the 2020. Its fantastic intense and highly skilled innovative cricket but it wouldn’t exist it it weren’t for test cricket. the rivalry of the Ashes and history of Lords. I think both forms have a brilliant role to play and if i want both Twenty 20 and test matches to become really dominant then the ODI format should be limited or gradually got rid of as a dormant, irrelevant and utterly uninspiring form of cricket that has never settled. I have seen and been to plenty of One day games. The long drawn out 7 match series’ and boring middle over period are out of date. The contrast of a 5 day test or 3 hour T20 game is clear as both serve a purpose; whereas the one day game is an unsuccessful compromise to reinvigorate a stale game in the 1960’s. I seriously can’t believe that if Viv Richards turned up today he would be a test player though. He would follow the bucks,the TV and IPL and be a hitter. Likewise the likes of Malcolm marshall or Jeff Thompson could make an absolute fortune and avoid injuries. Ideally in the modern day we want the best of both. Exciting new T20 and a reinvigorated test match game with the exciting players that have learnt from T20 and the experienced test players.
What we have recently seen with Kevin Pietersen’s retirement is of course a perfect example of exactly what i am saying. ODI is not valued as much as the test game and not as financially viable as the T20 game. Instead of criticising Pietersen, i think more players need to take his lead and scrap odi. Maybe keep the international T20 but that is his call. He is safeguarding his test future and allowing himself to play IPL and T20 cricket. The only ridiculous aspect of this is that now the ECB has to pay him to play for Surrey in T20 when he could have been playing for England.. Slightly silly
West indies in England and regardless of contract issues.. there is no Gayle ,Pollard Bravo, Taylor etc.. Edwards’s workload is ‘managed’ and Gayle is only able to play the ODI’s because of contract and workload issues. I would really prefer if they went to the IPL and earnt their cash then came to a test match and entertain us. A perfect example is India’s a Dhoni has hinted he wants to quit tests by 2013 to prolong a ODI career. Whereas 30 years ago when people were less fit, fielding was less athletic and there was less technology and help for both batsmen and bowlers, the likes of Richards, Botham, Thompson, Lillee and moving into more modern territory, Ponting , Tendulkar, Jayasuriya Warne, Murali Kallis etc… all played all forms successfully with limited injuries and consistent performance. It’s only with all three forms that players have had to manage firstly their domestic and international committments but also what international commitments. How often do you hear ‘x has signed a T20 contract’ have really had to chose more and more, and they are typically going to chose the money options unless they are not going to get into the ODI or T20 team anyway. These new T20 specialists are Masters of an art. Bowling high speed or with masterful variation, or having the ability to smack it out the ground is such a rare talent, we can’t lose it from the test match game or the test match game will be devalued. We should all remember the likes of Gayle and Herschelle Gibbs hitting out as aggressive test cricket not one day cricket in a test. Likewise it’s just a shame that it has become a situation in which Shaun Tait and Brett Lee can’t play in whites because they will get injured.
What we need is a gradual but eventual scrapping of 50 over cricket. I think test matches have a place as the historical home of cricket and T20 will support cricket both by financially bringing in the cash and spreading its popularity; but when there is a tour by a team instead of having 5 ODI’s and 2 T20’s.. reverse it. 5 T20’s and 2 ODI’s and you have more time for a test as well !! This would also give more opportunities to different players as there are more matches. . In the past 50 over cricket had it’s place. It has entertained, i have seen some thrilling games. It has never succeeded in balancing the bat with the ball. It has never been cracked as a successful game, teams never know what team to field or when to hit out in the innings. T20 can now take over the reigns of the shorter format as fifty over cricket was the bridge and developing step from tests to 2020. We don’t need it and players worried about workload can relax once it has gone.