|Greg Chappell fears for Test cricket's future|
Greg Chappell has delivered a blunt message to cricket's administrators: Test cricket is under threat from Twenty20 and something must be done to save the traditional form of the game. Chappell believes the situation is so severe that there could come a time when only four or five nations play Test cricket, with the weaker countries focusing purely on 20- and 50-over games.
The former Australia captain and India coach was in Melbourne on Thursday to deliver the annual Bradman Oration on the state of the game and he painted a worrying picture for the five-day format. He said while iconic tours like the Ashes retained their importance, many other series had lost relevance and administrators should focus on the quality of cricket played, rather than the quantity.
"I'm of the belief that we can support the three formats but obviously we have to give a very long and hard think about how best they work together," Chappell said. "I have a belief that we need to make each series, whether it's 20-, 50-over or a Test match series, a lot more relevant.
"I think the format that is under most pressure with 20-over cricket coming in is Test cricket. It has been struggling for some time. Economically, some countries find it very difficult to be competitive and therefore it affects economically the viability of Test series between some countries.
"I have a feeling that Test cricket is going to reduce in size rather than grow in size. I can see the time when perhaps there will only be four or five major countries playing Test match cricket. It's another reason why I think 50-over cricket needs to be supported and given a rethink because 50-over cricket could well become the Test cricket of the future for a lot of cricket playing countries.
"There are only probably four or five countries that have the critical mass and have the infrastructure that will allow them to produce competitive Test match teams on a regular basis. That is a problem. That's been exacerbated by the success of 20-over cricket."
"I can see the time when perhaps there will only be four or five major countries playing Test match cricket"
The prospect of separate divisions in Test cricket, which might help ensure matches are closely fought, was not an idea that sat well with Chappell. However, he believed that the introduction of day-night Tests, which appears to be a certainty when a suitable ball is developed, could help regenerate interest in the five-day format.
"If you want people to come, then obviously you have to fit into their lives, not hope that they will fit into the life of cricket," Chappell said. "I have no doubt that in the not too distant future we will see Test cricket played under lights and played at night time when it's easier for people to come."
Chappell's comments have come at a time when the ICC is considering ways to keep the public interested in Test cricket. An MCC survey recently found that only 7% of cricket followers in India regarded Test cricket as their preferred form of the game, while ticket sales for Australia's SCG and MCG Tests against Pakistan this summer are 20% down on the Tests at the same venue last season.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
A two-tiered test cricket system has to be looked at. There are only 8 nations capapble of producing competitive test match sides Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies. The other countries not quite up to scratch including Zimbabwe and Bangladesh should play in a structured sub-test level competition.They will get better at playing cricket by playing against each other and against B-Sides from some of the top nations like Australia, England and India. The format would be 3 or 4-day games like Shield crciket in Australia. If countries like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe perform well over a number of years and have the infastructure to support continued growth then i would give them temporary test status and review them after a couple of years competing with the big boys. The days of Matthew Hayden making 380 gainst Bangladeshi bowlers and Murali taking hundreds of wickets against hapless batsmen should be brought to a swift end.
I cannot for the life of me imagine how just a diet of 20/20's is going to satisfy any professional cricketer. It ain't gonna satisfy too many fans either(real ones that is). Hell 20/20 wouldn't satisfy most weekend players. As for ODI's the formulaic nature of them makes it hard to imagine them being the main course. There may be something wrong with Tests or rather pitches, but although the numbers are down in some countries, I bet the TV's and radios are on everywhere. Money is important,yes, but it is not the only thing in life.The unfolding nature of the plot of a Test match makes it irresistable as a good novel, and even the now vilified Ahmedabad Test was only a draw for certain in the last 2 sessions. In any case I would take a punt on India being involved in more draws in the last 20 years than most other sides. Time not to throw in the towel over Tests I believe, as they will probably outlast 20/20 by a long way; time merely to consider how to make more amusing pitches.