Well it seems as if the oldest format of cricket has lost its glory in recent times. In fact there have been debates whether test cricket should continue being played. In today’s busy schedules where people want instant results, there seems to be no place for a 5 day game where a result is also not certain. Youngsters would prefer a T20 game where sixes are hit. Cricket is so much more colourful and glamorous but here are some facts I would like to mention.
Some of the most talented players of all times have struggled in Test cricket. One of the prime examples has been player like Yuvraj Singh who is India’s star batsman but is yet to cement his spot in Test cricket. As the name suggests 'Test' cricket is not about hitting sixes and pleasing the crowd. It is about temperament, skills, and resilience. A player’s technique is severely tested and only the tough survive. The contest between bat and ball is much more even than in limited over formats. The Art of swing bowling is displayed at its best in this form of cricket where a session can turn the game on its head with the just concluded Test between South Africa and Australia being a fitting example. Some of the greatest games of all times have not been the T20 matches but the Test matches. Who can forget the India vs Australia Test match at Eden Gardens back in 2001 where VVS Laxman played the inning of his life & won the match for India?
If you look back at the greatest players to have ever played this game, they all are great Test match players and not just T20 players. Players like Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid, and the great Sachin Tendulkar all have scored tons of runs in test cricket. I am not against T20 cricket. It is an enjoyable form of cricket. But it does not imply that you overlook Test cricket. A true battle between bat & ball on a green wicket where the ball is swinging both ways & the batsmen need to gut it out is a treat to watch. I would rather prefer to see that than see sixes being hit on a belter of a wicket where batsmen can hit any ball to any part of the ground. Yes, we all love sixes being hit, runs being scored but the true lovers of the game of cricket would prefer a contest in which the bowlers have their say as well.
Here I would like to mention India’s recent tour of England where our World Cup winning side succumbed to the english conditions & were beaten 4-0. It was this very side that had won the World Cup & the same side fared slightly better in ODIs in England. If you look at the performances of India’s star players Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, and Suresh Raina you will find a drastic dip in their averages in Test cricket While we saw Raina struggling to open his account on green wickets he was hitting the ball to all parts of the ground in ODIs against the same English attack. It’s not the first time India’s been beaten overseas specially in Test matches where our star batsmen struggle against the moving ball. It’s because today a child dreams of being a Yuvraj or a Yusuf Pathan and not a Rahul Dravid. Why? Well because today IPL rules & Test cricket struggles to attract the crowd as seen at Kotla.
I see India in the bottom 5 of the ICC's team rankings in Test cricket 2-3 years down the line when the veterans of the game Dravid, Laxman and Sachin retire. And that’s because India’s young talent struggles to bat even 50 overs against the moving ball when facing a decent bowling attack & I don’t blame them either when you are born on flat tracks where you can hit the ball to all parts. You are bound to struggle against quality swing bowling. India needs to look seriously into this format of the game and amendments have to be made if India as a Test team wishes to have a say in the world. In a country where cricket is a religion, that has a population of over 1 billion, we do not have a bowler who can bowl at 150 km/hr which is a shame for our nation. It’s because our pitches do not support pace bowling. And this is why youngsters dream of being a Sachin Tendulkar and hit sixes not a Glenn Mcgrath and take wickets. Not only India but rest of the countries should not forget the oldest form of cricket, which has seen some of the greatest players of all times, and ensure it continues to be the jewel in the crown of this game and doesn’t lose its glory in the era of T20 cricket.