Go­ing in to bat for four-day tests

Herald on Sunday - - IN OTHER NEWS - An­drew Alder­son u@alder­son­notes

Ex­pect the ques­tion “should four-day tests be le­git­imised?” to be on the agenda when the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil board meets in Auck­land this week.

South Africa and Zim­babwe are propos­ing to play such a fix­ture on Box­ing Day in Port El­iz­a­beth and, if per­mit­ted, it could prove the pro­to­type for the fu­ture.

In a crick­et­ing world which ap­pears in a state of flux, this is a per­fect time to re­cal­i­brate what test matches mean, and how they best ex­ist in the con­tem­po­rary sport­ing land­scape.

Here’s a 10-point res­o­lu­tion to jus­tify four-day­ers be­com­ing the sta­tus quo.

1. Start tests on Thurs­days and fin­ish on Sun­days with pos­si­ble lo­gis­ti­cal scope to ex­tend to Mon­day if a day is rained out. Teams can travel on Tues­day and train on Wed­nes­day. Re­peat across a se­ries.

2. Us­ing point 1 as a ba­sis, it would be eas­ier to fit in three-test tours and give more con­text to a se­ries, even if only two tests per se­ries reg­is­ter in the pro­posed test cham­pi­onship.

3. Again, us­ing point 1, broad­cast­ers and hosts get to max­imise their rev­enue, with the de­noue­ment com­ing over the tra­di­tional week­end when more peo­ple can at­tend or watch on TV. A day’s costs are also re­moved.

4. Ex­tend the re­quired over count to 100 per day. That way you get a max­i­mum of 400 for the match as op­posed to the in­cum­bent 450. This is the age of T20. Mod­ern play­ers know how to ac­cel­er­ate a game to get a re­sult. They might trot quicker be­tween overs too, if there’s a suit­able de­ter­rent.

5. One hun­dred overs a day means in­creased ad­ver­tis­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for broad­cast­ers across the day and the po­ten­tial to earn more from ticket sales and pur­chases in­side the ground.

6. En­cour­age pitches which age faster so spin­ners can still ex­ploit the con­di­tions, par­tic­u­larly on the fi­nal day.

7. Do­mes­tic first-class pro­grammes around the world are al­ready played over four days, so play­ers el­e­vated to test sta­tus would do so on a like-for-like ba­sis.

8. Four-day­ers will make the test for­mat less daunt­ing for rook­ies Afghanistan and Ire­land.

9. Five-day matches are hardly de rigueur across his­tory. Tests of three, four, five and a sched­uled six days have been tried. There was also the time­less test of 1939 be­tween South Africa and Eng­land at Dur­ban when the vis­i­tors too­tled off af­ter nine days’ play (12 days in to­tal) to catch their boat home.

10. Trun­cated tests are in­creas­ingly com­mon. Ac­cord­ing to statis­ti­cian Ric Fin­lay in a July 2016 Cricinfo story, 28.6 per cent of all test matches had ended be­fore the fifth day. In 21 New Zealand home tests over the past five sum­mers, that fig­ure is 42.9 per cent (nine matches).

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