Here we are with part II in our series, Make Test Cricket Great Again: Problems with Test Cricket.
Albert Einstein once said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”
This is exactly our goal. The long-term ambition of this series of articles is to generate a whole list of problems associated with Test cricket, propose respective solutions (both idealistic & practical), bring other people in during the process, and maybe at the end, gather enough momentum to gain the attention of administrators & the ICC.
Today, we bring in our friends from Twitter who will share their concerns with Test cricket & the World Test Championship.
The more opinions we have, the better. We can only move forward with a rich exchange of ideas between the fans, commentators, local administrators, experts, & former players rather than just the meeting board room of the Big 3.
The Work Done So Far
We did a similar exercise during the early days of the World Test Championship, but we wish to build upon this model. Here are some of our past proposals to improve the WTC.
- How Can The World Test Championship Improve?
- Problems: Imbalance of the Big 3 (Australia, England, India) and the bias of ‘marquee’ series like the 5-match Ashes.
- Solution: Merge the FTP (Future Tour Programme) & the WTC, and create a system where each team plays a 5-4-3 match series or 4-4-4 Test match series during a cycle. “Instead of scrapping the Ashes, we will keep traditional rivalries intact and encourage new ones.” Overall, 24 games against 9 opponents in a 2.5 year WTC cycle.
- How To Fix The World Test Championship Points Table?
- Problems: (1) Points fluctuate based on number of games in a series (60 points – 2 Tests, 40 – 3 Tests, 24 – 5 Tests), (2) No points accommodated for Home & Away Advantage, and (3) All-Or-Nothing Points System for a 5 day-15 session Test match.
- Solution: We combine the ODI Super League system (consistent base point system per series), provide a mechanism for home versus away (away wins & draws worth more), and distribute additional points across sessions to incorporate ebb & flow (2 points – session won, 1 point – even/wash out).
- Example of WTC Points Table Based on Our System
- We implement our system from above and compare it with the WTC Table (as of August 30, 2020)
The Work Planned Ahead
The issue with my initial set of articles was the underlying assumption that each team will play an equal number of matches against each other. In a post-COVID world, matches are not guaranteed, and it seems certain nations are prioritizing games against higher ranked teams and calling off series against lower-ranked ones.
Hence, we plan to do practical investigations in our future articles:
- Revenue each Test playing nation generates: How much money does each cricket board and player earn every Test series per country? Why does New Zealand lose money to host a Test? How does the revenue compare to T20 leagues and the death of the tri-series?
- What does it take to host a Test match? We can analyze what goes during the match but what goes behind the scenes? We will research and examine key components: The major players, administrators, ground staff, and more.
- Equity vs Equality: Innovations that can help further bridge the gap between the different teams given the current financial status and level of each team.
- The Pink Ball Test: Does More Harm Than Good? Day-night Test matches ending in 2-3 days cannot generate more crowd/interest than a balanced Test match held for 5 days during the day. We will analyze the key differences between the red ball & pink ball, practice matches in domestic tournaments, and if this idea is worth sustaining?
Your Opinion Matters: Problems With Test Cricket
In Part I of the series, we asked our friends on Twitter how they would improve Test cricket. Some ideas that I brainstormed to get the conversation started were as follows:
- Getting rid of DRS umpires call (on impact)
- Improving/ Standardizing pitches (Chennai 2x pitch received way too much backlash)
- Promoting more money from T20 leagues to help out domestic cricketers
- Having a relegation-promotion system for the WTC
What Do People Think?
Now it is the people’s turn. Here is what they had to say. These are interesting Twitter accounts, blogs, & podcasts in their own right. Feel free to check them out (links next to the name).
“Definitely agree that that there is too much disparity between the big three and every other team. I am also onboard with a ‘division’ system for the WTC.”
- Home advantage is a good thing but has to be limits on how big that advantage can be
- Neutral umpires needed back ASAP
- More needs to be done to help the non-Big 3 nations
- Each series should be 3 Tests long and in any 4/5 match series (Ashes, Ind v Aus/Eng), only the first 3 counts
- Maybe each nation has to play each other home and away but that would take too long
- Group system
- 8 teams, 2 groups of 4 each
- Each team to play a 3 match series home & away
- Top 2 from each group to be selected for Semi-Finals
- Finals to be a 3-match series on neutral series (on 3 different types of decks: seaming-turner-flat decks)
- Practical decisions on session breaks for rain impacted days. Play 10 overs after long rain and go for lunch when it’s sunshine (needs change)
- One pink ball test in 3 match series
- Number of unsuccessful reviews & umpires call. 3rd umpire authorized to override impact
- Should try to schedule equal number of home and away matches for all the teams
- Possibly more points for away wins?
- Optional: Additional points for win against higher ranked team/innings win (debatable and can be parked)
- Every team should play against each other. That will make the tournament lengthy but it will make it perfect and no teams can be said to have an easier pool or tougher pool. Conduct finals once in 4-5 years. Every Test playing nation should play against each other. It will make the WTC more enthralling contest.
“I just hate the comments that this team got ‘easier’ away tours than others. Or easier home games. WTC is a mighty big championship and in something big like this, you do not want any comments which should call it unfair.”
Brilliant entries from Twitter! Major theme was to create a balance in the number of Test matches played between each country during a particular cycle. Some innovative solutions for the WTC included 2 groups semi-finals format, bonus points against higher ranked teams, & a 3-match final. For Test cricket in general—mandatory neutral umpires, DRS improvement, & updating rain-protocols were some interesting proposals.
Last time, I started with “I have been meaning to write this article for months now, but for some reason have not been able to.”
I now know why. This is not a one day project. Or a one week project. Or even a one person project. This will take input from several individuals, research & conversations, back & forth exchanges, and a lot of time. But, as they say:
“Rome was not built in day. It was built brick by brick.”
One step at a time.
Make Test Cricket Great Again and Restore the Soul of This Wonderful Sport.
Inspired by talks with Dad and Vandit.
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Copyright (2021: 2/27/2021)– @Nitesh Mathur, aka Nit-X – firstname.lastname@example.org
Image Courtesy: International Cricket Council, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons