Hadlee says yes to four-day tests

Sunday News - - SPORT - MARK GEENTY

‘ If it comes back to four I don't have a prob­lem as long as they bowl the overs.’ SIR RICHARD HADLEE

HE made his de­but in a four-day test, now Sir Richard Hadlee is back­ing a re­turn to them in order to save cricket’s tra­di­tional for­mat.

New Zealand’s great­est crick­eter has been joined by fel­low fast bowler Shane Bond in call­ing for a re­duc­tion in the hum­ble five­day test to breathe life into a for­mat prov­ing less and less at­trac­tive to the pay­ing pub­lic, broad­cast­ers and some na­tional boards.

It fol­lows a re­port in the Tele­graph say­ing the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board will push hard for tests to be re­duced from five to four days after it hosts the 2019 Ashes se­ries.

It will make its case at the next In­ter­na­tional Cricket coun­cil board meet­ing in Auck­land, start­ing on Oc­to­ber 10, where a test cham­pi­onship is ex­pected to be rat­i­fied.

Hadlee, tour­ing the coun­try pro­mot­ing his new book The Skip­per’s Di­ary, which charts fa­ther Wal­ter’s ac­count of the 1949 tour of Eng­land, said there was a need for progress.

‘‘I’m a tra­di­tion­al­ist but if we don’t change we’re go­ing to lose the game that is the foun­da­tion on what cricket is based: five-day test cricket. If it comes back to four I don’t have a prob­lem as long as they bowl the overs,’’ Hadlee said.

Hadlee snared 431 wick­ets in 86 tests and the first of them, Pak­istan’s Asif Iqbal, was taken in Wellington dur­ing the 1973 home se­ries of three four-day tests.

‘‘My view of four-day cricket is they’ve got to bowl 100 overs a day and they stay out there till they do, un­less it’s weather af­fected. PHIL WAL­TER/GETTY IM­AGES They’ve got to quicken it up.

‘‘These guys in 1949 were bowl­ing 120 overs in six hours, and 350-400 runs were scored. If you bowled 100 in a day you might have to start ear­lier to get it in but you’re only los­ing 50 overs in a test match.’’

New Zealand Cricket chief ex­ec­u­tive David White has pre­vi­ously backed a move to four-day tests as it pre­pares to host Eng­land in the coun­try’s first daynight pink ball test at Auck­land’s Eden Park in March. Four-day tests would be played Thursday to Sunday to try and max­imise week­end crowds, and en­able three-test se­ries over suc­ces­sive week­ends.

This sum­mer’s four home tests against West Indies and Eng­land are the only ones the Black Caps will play in the next year, while there are 10 lu­cra­tive home Twenty20 in­ter­na­tion­als sched­uled.

Hadlee said of the T20 revo­lu­tion: ‘‘That’s what the con­sumer wants, spec­ta­tors and tele­vi­sion, and try­ing to pre­serve and pro­tect test cricket is a real chal­lenge. We need to make test cricket more rel­e­vant be­cause peo­ple haven’t got five days to watch the game on tele­vi­sion or at the ground.

‘‘By in­tro­duc­ing the day-night test in Auck­land it will be new and it has worked in Aus­tralia. Whether the weather is kind to us at night is some­thing to con­sider.’’

Bond, cur­rently coach­ing New Zealand A in In­dia and con­firmed as Eng­land’s fast bowl­ing con­sul­tant for the Ashes se­ries in Novem­ber, said it was strange that tests didn’t align with first-class cricket which is played over four days.

‘‘I love test cricket but you want to try to get a re­sult and make it ex­cit­ing,’’ Bond said.

New Zealand’s only crick­et­ing great Sir Richard Hadlee.

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