Should test matches be reduced to four days?
A couple of weeks ago, in an interview to India Today
, ICC President David Morgan indicated that reducing test matches to being 4-day affairs was on the agenda.
Q: Other than merely re-emphasising its importance, what is being done on the ground to restrengthen Test cricket?
Another thought that many people have, that we are examining is whether Test match cricket can be played over four days rather than five.
Q: How quickly will we see a four-day Test? Has the mental shift been made?
The mental shift has been made in that it has been talked about and examined, I think that has already occoured. I would be very surprised if within a year you haven't seen some significant changes in Test match cricket. Over rates, pitches, daynight Test cricket … I think in a year's time you will see for yourself changes that have occoured in Test match cricket.
Let's examine if there is any evidence to support the ICC's stand. I took all tests that had been played after 1 Jan 2006 and excluded games involving Zimbabwe & Bangladesh. That's a total of 123 games
. Surely that's a decent sample set. Then I excluded the Antigua farce
and the terror-impacted Lahore test
So now I had 121 tests and here're the results expressed in average duration of the test.
- The average duration of a game with a result (draws are 5-day affairs since the Antigua & Lahore tests have been excluded) has ranged between 4.2 and 4.4 days. It was 4.3 in 2006, 4.4 in 2007 & 2008 and 4.2 in 2009 [so far].
- West Indies and Pakistan win in the shortest period (average of 4 days), but that data is skewed because they've only won 2 & 5 tests respectively in the time period chosen. Among teams with at least 10 test wins, South Africa get things done in the shortest time - 4.1 days.
- The shortest tests also happen in South Africa, lasting 4.2 days on an average. Both these stats indicate that South Africa have been quite ruthless over the past 3.5 years.
- Australia have
surprisingly taken the most time to win overall (4.6 days) and the number is identical for home games.
You can view the spreadsheet online
, copy the data over to your local machine and play around with it to get more pivot reports.
The evidence does seem to suggest that more and more tests are getting over in around 4-4.5 days. So while David Morgan may not be quite right about getting to 4 day tests within the next year, I see it happening after the next 2-3 years for sure. Hopefully the changes include imposing overs restrictions on test innings
, including giving toss-winning teams the option to pick the overs limit for their 1st and 2nd innings.
Of course, less than 4 years ago, this same ICC, in their infinite wisdom, staged a six day test
! After the dreary draws at Lahore
during India's tour of Pakistan in 2006, Pakistan's cricket establishment (captain, former players, administrators, etc.) began talking about the need for 6-day tests
, especially in winter, since the weather conditions invariably interfered with play. Of course, they conveniently forgot that the Lahore and Faisalabad tests could have really gone on for perhaps another 2-3 days with no chance of a result because the fault was in the pitches used.
In other news, John Buchanan's comments in his soon-to-be-released book
which focusses on the Twenty20 game
generated outrage in the Indian media & Indian cricket establishment. It's his book, he has a right to have an opinion. It could be right or wrong. When excerpts from Adam Gilchrist's autobiography
caused a furore in India, I wrote:
Adam Gilchrist's autobiography, "True Colours: My Life", is to be released next week. As is to be expected, and as we've seen with cricketer autobiographies (Trescothick, Pietersen, Wright, Fletcher, Flintoff, Hussain or Lehmann), there is a tendency to selectively leak 'scandalous' portions of the book. The aim is to create a buzz around it, with the hope that it translates into more sales when the book is released.
Adam Gilchrist's revelations about Tendulkar are nothing but just that. He has his point of view, and others have theirs. Its his autobiography, and he has a right to choose what to say, and what not to say. If he reckons that the best way to sell his book, when there's an Australia v India series on, is to say things about India's cricketers that rile their fans, then that's his judgement.
Personally, I've never had a great opinion of Buchanan. He's said enough stupid things (blaming losing opponents for his bowlers not executing their skills
& predicting that Australia's 2007 World Cup side would have ambidextrous cricketers
, just to take a couple of examples). If he really does point out in the book that Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly & Laxman aren't suited to Twenty20 cricket, then is that necessarily a wrong thing to say? In any case, none of them play Twenty20 internationals anymore (Tendulkar is the only one to have played a T20 international) and Laxman probably sat out all of the 2009 IPL edition
I wrote before the BCCI announced the 2007 Twenty20 World Cup squad that Dravid & Ganguly shouldn't be in the squad
while I was ambivalent about Tendulkar. If I had to arrange the 4 batsmen in decreasing order of ability in Twenty20, the order would be Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman. So exactly what's new about what Buchanan says? Is the outrage based on "How dare this foreigner tell us our greats aren't good enough at T20!"?
I'm guessing everyone who is outraged actually thinks the same way about Laxman and a lot of people would feel so about Ganguly & Dravid. The only questionable comment is about Tendulkar, and given he averaged 31 (strike rate 106)
and 33 (strike rate 120)
in the 2008 & 2009 editions of the Indian Premier League, there's enough evidence to suggest Buchanan is right! In any case, I haven't read the book, so I really can't comment on other issues.Today at Cardiff
, the venue for the first Ashes test
, Ricky Ponting became the 2nd fastest to reach 11000 test runs
, taking 9 innings more than Lara and one less than Tendulkar. Next in his sights - going past Border's Australian record of 11174
. After that, he'll go on and get the test runs and centuries records
for sure, unless injury strikes him down or he gets totally demotivated after being dismissed 8 times by Graeme Swann in this series.
Last week, India won the ODIs in West Indies
to notch up 5 consecutive series wins
. I was curious to find out other similar streaks and here's what I found.
But the runaway victor in this category is Australia with a whopping 10 consecutive series wins between Dec 2002 and Sep 2004
, including an unbeaten 2003 World Cup campaign
I could have probably excluded series where there were lesser than 3 ODIs. But I couldn't have excluded series involving the minnow teams
because they turn up at the various World Cup-like events. Even then, I don't think the results will differ too much from the ones above.
Labels: 11000, ashes, ashes 2009, autobiography, buchanan, innovation, ponting, statistic, streak, test cricket