Twenty20 has created millions of new cricket fans around the world. The 20-over format is played at a fast pace and has a lot of action and entertainment. ODIs, which is the 50-over format, have slowed down a little but the International Cricket Council (ICC) has experimented with different rule changes to make the format more exciting.
ICC Looks To Spice Up Test Cricket
The ICC is now looking to do the same thing with the 5-day format. They believe that test cricket is in need of saving. The ICC has confirmed that it is holding serious discussions about reducing the 5 day format to just 4 days. If these talks materialize, then the ICC could roll out 4-day test matches starting from 2023 and will implement the same into the World Test Championship. This will last from 2023 to the next cricketing cycle which ends on 2031.
The move has come about as the different cricketing boards are discussing new ways of freeing up their cricketing calendar and bringing in more fans to the longer format of the game. Should the ICC proceed with its 4-day test cricket proposal, it would free up as many as 335 days of fixed cricket during the proposed period.
If the four-day format is adopted, test matches are likely to start on Thursday and finish on Sunday. The ICC believes this will be good for the game as the weekend matches will allow more spectators to come into the grounds and the reduction of 1 day will also help speed up the game and make things more interesting for viewers.
Changes To The 5-Day Format
The ICC is thinking about a 4-day format that will require teams to bowl a mandatory 98 overs per day. The current requirement is to bowl a total of 90 overs per day during the 5 days. This has been a struggle for most teams as slow over rates and bad light in sub-continent conditions has usually resulted in playing getting called of early and teams struggling to get the 90 overs in.
The ICC has proposed to bowl a total of 98 overs per day which means that only 58 scheduled overs would be lost even if the game is reduced from 5 days to 4 days. While the proposal on paper looks good, the feasibility of such a feat is questionable given the fact that recent history has shown teams struggling to bowl 90 overs in a day.
Players Not Keen On 4-Day Tests
The top players in the world all consider test cricket as the pinnacle of the game. The 5-day format is where players are put to the test in all departments. Only the strong survive consistently. Most players don’t want the ICC to shorten test cricket and Australian captain Tim Paine is among them.
Paine stated that the recent Ashes series saw most of the games go into the fifth day. It was, he said, some of the most exciting games he has played in. Shortening the format will force the pace and make it similar to-first class cricket.
ICC Receives ECB Backing
The English Cricket Board (ECB) has come out in support of the four-day format. The ECB said that it was in the best interests of the game. However, they added, the ICC would have to be sensitive and cautious in its approach. There are after all numerous stakeholders that needed to be consulted!