Let’s bat for more Tests

Sportstar - - STATSMAN NUMBER CRUNCHING / MOHANDAS MENON - SU­NIL GAVASKAR

Test cricket needs more sup­port and needs to be more mean­ing­ful for the in­ter­est to be sus­tained.

Us­man Khawaja’s bril­liant cen­tury saved Aus­tralia from a cer­tain de­feat in the first Test against Pak­istan at the Dubai Cricket Sta­dium. Khawaja had also got a gritty ■5 in the first in­nings to add to the cen­tury he scored in the sec­ond and that should for­ever si­lence all those who doubted his abil­ity to score runs in sub­con­ti­nent con­di­tions. Sure, he didn’t score many in the few in­nings he had in Sri Lanka, but not many oth­ers in that Aus­tralian line­up — apart from the then skip­per Steve Smith — had got runs ei­ther.

There is a ten­dency, es­pe­cially in the me­dia of the old pow­ers, to put some play­ers in a bracket and Khawaja was among those who were not ex­pected to score runs in these pitches. So when the Aus­tralians came to In­dia early last year, Khawaja did not get a sin­gle game de­spite the fact that he was a left han­der and would have given a dif­fer­ent prob­lem for the In­dian spin­ners. Ricky Ponting had a cou­ple of cen­tury­less tours to In­dia and he looked clue­less, es­pe­cially against Harb­ha­jan Singh, but no­body would have dared to drop him. He did get a hun­dred on his last tour of In­dia but his av­er­age in In­dia is a lit­tle over 26, which by no stretch of imag­i­na­tion be­fits a great bats­man like him.

In­her­ent bi­ases

The sad thing is that if a player is of a sub­con­ti­nent ori­gin and a nat­u­ralised Aus­tralian or English­man he will be stereo­typed against cer­tain at­tacks and not given the same kind of op­por­tu­ni­ties as those af­forded to crick­eters of Aussie and English ori­gin. Look at Mark Ram­prakash, who was never given the con­fi­dence that he be­longed to the English mid­dle­order and so he was not able to trans­form his su­perb first­class record into a Test and in­ter­na­tional one. Oth­ers of English ori­gin play­ing around the same time were never given any tags and so played on de­spite or­di­nary re­turns.

The Pak­istan­aus­tralia se­ries is also a two­test se­ries just like the In­dia­west Indies one and does lit­tle jus­tice as there’s the like­li­hood that there could be a drawn se­ries if both teams win one game each. Mind you that could hap­pen even in a three­ or a five­test se­ries but at least both teams have a chance to break the stale­mate and try for a win.

Needs sup­port

Test cricket needs more sup­port and needs to be more mean­ing­ful for the in­ter­est to be sus­tained. As we move into the dig­i­tal age with less and less con­cen­tra­tion time for young­sters un­less there is a rea­son to watch Test cricket they won’t watch it or if they watch at all it will be for a short time and not the whole five days as ear­lier. Matches hardly ever go into the fifth and fi­nal day nowa­days,

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