VIEWPOINT – A brief suggestion on how to enhance Test cricket

  Eleven things that could be done in the near future to enhance Test cricket, in my opinion:-

1) First and foremost, some kind of parity in the number of Tests each team plays, and each team should play every other with reasonable frequency (like the 90’s). Easier said than done though – yet another Ashes looms upon us in a year.

2) Try all that can be done to introduce day-night Test cricket. I believe one of the Southern hemisphere nations could take the initiative. This is one experiment which will not fail if all goes well; there will be more crowds after all.

3) If any two nations want to play a five-day match between themselves, such a game should be given proper Test status. Scrap the members and Associate bifurcation. A country v country fixture should be an international and nothing else.

4) If the above point seems too far-fetched, at least bring Ireland into Test cricket. As soon as possible. The game will only enrich if this is done. A vibrant, genuinely interested new Test nation is the need of the hour.

5) While the teams’ Test kits should obviously remain white, the country name should be written clearly in front of the shirt in the colour of the respective cap. Also, the player’s name and number on the back. New audiences need to identify the players.

6) Market Test cricket well. This is something that is rarely done except for the Ashes. While we see full-page ads and hoardings promoting meaningless games like ‘Sunrisers v Sixers’ et al, promotion of Test cricket is hardly seen. Build the hype before a big series.

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In spite of their close proximity, Trans-Tasman rivals Australia and New Zealand seldom play each other. Tests between the two nations have been scarce (source – cricbuzz.com)

7) Get some sort of uniformity in the Test calendar. Countries should allot a separate period as their Test season, with fixed dates scheduling Test matches at grounds with historical significance. Case in point – the Boxing Day Test. Also, include the Friday to Sunday period in all matches.

8) Do away with the two-Test series – which is the norm nowadays – once and for all. Any Test series should have at least three matches. Ashes to have five, and certain other match-ups like England v South Africa, India v Australia, England v West Indies to have at least four.

9) Develop regional rivalries between countries and such fixtures should be so scheduled as to make them much-awaited. Australia-New Zealand and India-Pakistan play each other so less, and that’s a big opportunity missed. Also, England-Ireland looks a tempting prospect.

10) Let regular grounds host Test matches, and make the event as fan-friendly as possible. In this way, people would look forward to say, the annual Mumbai Test or the Wellington Test. Again, a lesson to be learnt from Melbourne.

11) An equal number of matches to be considered for every team after every four-year cycle to determine a Test champion. Incentives for the yearly leading team and more points for away Test wins.

Seems Utopian, but one can always harbour hope.

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