Hadlee says yes to four-day tests
‘ 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.