David Leggat: Give 4-day tests a chance

Black Caps opening batsmen Martin Guptill (left) and Kane Williamson (right) pictured in action against Sri Lanka. Photo / Alan Gibson
Black Caps opening batsmen Martin Guptill (left) and Kane Williamson (right) pictured in action against Sri Lanka. Photo / Alan Gibson

Four-day tests, played from Thursday to Sunday, 100 overs a day; it won't suit every traditional cricket palate, but it's worth a hard look.

The International Cricket Council has a meeting in Dubai in September at which the idea of both the change in test playing conditions, along with a two-tiered system - top seven, bottom five, with the likes of Ireland and Afghanistan joining the party - is due to have its next airing.

Standing still as time marches on is foolish, and the time is right for cricket to embrace change.

Five days can be a tough watch, especially for those with the shortened attention span of modern times.

As Cricket Australia's chief executive James Sutherland likes pointing out, there is a danger in loving test cricket too much.

To this mind, four-day tests should be given a chance. Bottom line, even allowing for the glacial speed of change at the top of the game, if it doesn't work, you think again.

One problem: if the first day is a washout, you're left with three days for a test, which is clearly unsatisfactory. A result is desperately hard to achieve unless you're playing India in Nagpur.

In a recent NZ Cricket survey, 90 per cent of players called test cricket their preferred format. Would they still prefer it with their days extended by roughly 45 minutes, even though a test would decrease from 450 overs a match to 400?

"We don't want to compromise history but we need to have a close look at it," NZC chief executive David White said.

Played from Thursday to Sunday, there's a natural three-day break before the next test in a series, and it offers two public holidays for potentially the most pivotal viewing of the contest. It has a natural flow.

There's so much international cricket these days, it needs some structure, which is where two-tier, promotion/relegation comes in. A top division of seven and second of five is mooted.

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, at present seventh and ninth, aren't happy. New Zealand are comfortably fifth on test rankings ahead of their away series in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Here's a thistle: what happens in a couple of years if India happened to be in a slump. India, the financial heavy of the game, relegated? Don't think so.

The ICC is talking no financial penalty to those in the second tier but there needs to be meaning to the international game.

"It's got to be aspirational. Promotion/relegation would be fantastic," White said.

New Zealand were up for the first day-night pink ball test in Adelaide last year. Their reputation is of a team, and organisation, in the vanguard of change. If the ICC can tick all the financial and playing boxes, expect NZC to support the idea.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 01 Oct 2016 19:59:36 Processing Time: 579ms