Tuesday, 7 February 2012

An Era of 4 Day Tests

Another No. 1 team whitewashed. Its not India but its the so-called "world dominators", "the next Australia", I mean England. England lost to Pakistan 3-0 as they lost the 3rd and final test by 71 runs. England crossed 200 only twice in the series and were dancing to the tunes of spinners Ajmal and Rahman. What has been more shocking is the no. of days each test lasted. No test in the series lasted 5 days. The first lasted 3 days while the other 2 lasted 4 days. And its not only this series. In the India-Australia series all but one test got over before the 5th day with 1 test at Perth finishing in just 2 and a half days.

Why is this happening? While these 4 day tests are bringing results in test matches but they are taking out the essence of a 5 day test in which the teams struggle till the last ball of the last day. After all the test matches are meant to be played over 5 days. What could be the reasons for the shortened tests? Is it due to the dawn of the T20 era where everything happens thick and fast?

Everyone champion at home, minnows overseas- Yes it seems the world is heading towards a home domination. Gone are the days of West Indies of 80's and Australia of 2000's who won all over the world. Its an era where a team which plays more frequently at home for a couple of years is crowned number 1. How can a top ranked team be whitewashed by a team ranked 5th. In England's march to the top during the last 2 years they played 23 tests winning 15 and losing 5. Of these 10 wins have come at home while 5 have been earned abroad with 2 of them against Bangladesh. The 3 wins against Australia were on pitches that are similar to ones back home. They lost just 1 game at home but lost 3 away. In India's case there is nothing left to explain. The point is clear, teams are preparing typical pitches which suit their own style and as a result the matches are one sided and get over in just 4 days. And if one team does that the other team too responds similarly leading to pitches that are either too fast or too slow.

Incapable Players- Home teams have been preparing pitches that suit themselves since years. Then why is this issue coming up only now? Are the players incapable of handling alien conditions? In their prime Tendulkar, Ponting, Kallis, Dravid , Lara etc scored runs all over the world regardless of the conditions. But the next generation seems to be home sick. If Indian players can't play moving and bouncing balls, then the English dance to turning balls. This will hurt cricket big time. Matches are increasingly becoming 1 sided. Players are happy whitewashing teams at home and then getting whitewashed abroad.

T20 style- T20, the shorter and the quicker format of cricket. Has it really crept into the longer format as well? Maybe yes. I mean these days batsmen or bowlers rarely struggle. If a batsman starts defending too much, commentators say he is not playing positively or he is in a shell and after some time the batsman gets out. If a bowler is not bowling well, he gets run over by the batsman as the batting team scores runs at rates acceptable in limited overs cricket. I don't understand why a batsman who is defending balls at the front foot is said to be in a shell and not playing positively or not in prime form? Can't a batsman defend 20 good balls in a go? Nobody wants to wait. Everyone wants the tests to finish as early as possible.

I loved the fighting draws and tests whose result could not be predicted even on the 5th day, not the tests where the match's outcome is almost decided on day 1 itself.

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