For a connieuseur of the game, there is no better sight than seeing thirteen white flannelled gentlemen battle it out with the bat and the ball, The aroma of the leather granade whiffing past the helmeted and visored cranium or the turn and guile befoxing the striker and make him appear a complete buffoon is something that can gladden the heart of a purist in much the same way a silken glance past the fine leg or a delicious floor hugging drive through the covers will.
Much like how moronic cinema has outnumbered those wonderful classics, the slam-bang version of the cricket game has stolen a march over the traditional and more beautiful version. Yes, the T20 is like the oxygen bar where you get all the days requirement in one hour, but for you to survive, you need that twenty percent all day long rather than the hundred in an hour. The latter might be a tonic to give you more excitement and some fun, but for the game to survive, the pinnacle of test cricket should remain in the pink of health.
The Blonde Twister has penned a piece for the Times with his views to rehabilitate the dying spectacle that Test Cricket is. He has advised an abolishment of the full day variety of the game and advised a balance of Tests and T20 matches. He has advocated a three match test series and a five match T20 to be part of a tour. He also wants to curb the new menace of switch hitting. There are quite a few advocates to propose and oppose his views. Like every armchair enthusiast and analyst, I too have a few ideas which might help in making Test cricket not only reach its optimal health, but also make it enjoyable for the spectators. And most importantly, makes it interesting for the players.
- Do not completely abandon One day Internationals, ration them. Same with Tests and T20s. A new regulation should be in place wherein every team should be required to play a minimum and maximum number of games of each form of cricket. For example, each country should play atleast 15 test matches in a calendar year. And a maximum of 20 test matches per country in a year will be ideal. Similarly, 20 ODIs and 30 T20 matches would be an ideal bet.
- 5 match Test series. Two, three and even four test matches should be abandoned. Each Country should develop atleast 5-6 Test venues and each match should be played at a different venue. In case five different venues are not available, then a 3-match series should be organised with each match at a different venue. Each venue should be in a different city. Let us avoid a situation where Sri Lanka plays three matches at Colombo or Zimbabwe has two in Bulawayo.
- Sporting Pitches. We may love those flatbed pitches conducive to hitting for the T20s and ODIs, but one of the main reasons for Test cricket's downfall over the past decade or so has been the lack of sporting pitches. Also, individuality of venues needs to be appreciated. A fast bouncy pitch at Mohali might be ideal to acquaint the Indian youngsters with chin music, but the subcontinent is known for its turning pitches, much the same way the WACA was purpoted to be fastest in the world. We need to get them back to their original character.
- Encourage domestic cricket. Not just the IPL, the Pura cup, the Ranji Trophy and the English County Championship. Make it compulsory for all the big names to participate in a minumum number of domestic matches per season to be eligible for international selection. So if Tendulkar does not play five domestic four/five day games, he will not be eligible to face Brett Lee and Bil Hilfenhaus at the Gabba. This not only makes their game better, but also gives the first class players an opportunity to gain good exposure.
- Laxen the Bowling rules. Wides on either side of the stump should actually be wide. Give the batting team an option of selecting a free-hit or a free-run for a front foot no-ball. Allow chin music. The bouncer needs to reclassified as a ball above the head and not just one above the shoulder.
- Allow Referrals. Three failed referrals per innings to the bowling side should be allowed. The bouncer/no-ball decisions should be included in the can-be-referred list.
- World Test Championship. Have a biennial Test Championship and not just a ranking system. There should be a rolling shield for the same. Nothing short of an Award and a Reward can lure today's money-hungry system.
Lets see how these play up!