Some fateful words were spoken by New Zealand Cricket's director of cricket John Buchanan during his recent media blitz to counter the current catalogue of woe: "The cricket World Cup (held in Australasia in early 2015) is the most important thing on the horizon because it's only two years away," Buchanan told NewstalkZB.

"To put our best foot forward in an event in our own backyard, we need to place that as a priority above the longer form of the game," Buchanan said - alongside his catch-cry demanding trust, honesty, accountability and integrity. Whoa, John ... you've got to be kidding (cue cricket purists hyperventilating). This indicates the state of our cricket has sunk to such a point that the prospect of 50-over matches will take priority for two years. Could pyjamas have finally won the war over whites?

Buchanan's statement reeked of a cop-out; the path of least resistance; raising the white flag to admit New Zealand's test incompetence. Cricket might well evolve over the next generation into a Twenty20 cash cow comprising a plethora of agricultural shots over midwicket but, for many in the New Zealand cricket community, test matches will always take priority.

Some still find something captivating in the sport being played properly at test level. Observing Vernon Philander bowl in Cape Town or Hashim Amla bat in Port Elizabeth are exhibits A and B.


The focus on short forms allows cricket in this country access to more money but plenty of other countries manage all forms of the game. Why not New Zealand?

People in cricket's major associations insist Buchanan has a long-term plan in place for the longest form. If anyone understands the importance of test cricket it should be him, having coached Australia to one of their all-time greatest eras from 1999-2007.

Buchanan also has a soft spot for the 50-over form. Even after his NZC appointment in April 2011, he was quoted on the country's 2015 World Cup chances: "There is no question New Zealand punch above their weight, but they don't punch above their weight long enough and I guess that's the challenge. I'm targeting 2015 and New Zealand should have the expectation of going into that tournament and winning it."

It could be time to admit the test game's up and let New Zealand focus on being one-day and T20 specialists. New Zealand's test ranking is eighth; below are only Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. The last time New Zealand rose above eighth was November 2010.

Can it be mere coincidence New Zealand has not won a test series against any country other than Bangladesh or Zimbabwe since beating the West Indies in 2005-06 at home, the first season of the national T20 league?

New Zealand may not rate test cricket but most other countries do - failure at that level endangers our status as a drawcard and opens the possibility of New Zealand being awarded fewer tests and certainly fewer against countries of note.

Compounding the problem is a lack of any guarantee New Zealand's Indian Premier League players will be available for the two tests in England during May. Both matches clash with the IPL schedule.

Buchanan should be aware that making another World Cup semifinal - New Zealand have made six in the 10 tournaments since 1975 - will have a hollow, fast-food feel if the test game does not improve in sync. Test purists want to see a more sustainable solution, over five days rather than one (or three or four).