International Cricket Council’s current try to market Test Cricket in a shorter, four-day format, starting beyond the year 2023, has not been a popular decision, to say the least. Purists of the game, both fans and personalities attached to the game, have been vehemently against the decision. The personalities include numerous top-level active cricketers, and legends from the history of the game. Sachin Tendulkar is the latest name to speak his mind out about the topic.
Sachin Tendulkar is one of the most high-profile names to speak out, and he stands against the shortening of the purest format of the game. “From a purist’s point of view and as an admirer of Test cricket, I don’t think it should be tinkered with. The format has to be played in the way it has been played for so many years,” says Tendulkar.
Tendulkar is the highest run scorer in the history of Test (and One Day International) Cricket, and he opines than such a shortening will transform Test Cricket into an extended limited over game. He brings the batsman’s mind into question: “The moment you bat till the second-day lunch, you know that there are only two and a half days to go. That changes the thinking and dynamics of the game.”
Tendulkar also stresses that spinners will be the worst affected if Test matches are shortened by a day. “Taking away the fifth-day track from a spinner is like taking away the first-day track from a fast bowler,” Tendulkar says. “On the final session of a fifth day, any spinner would like to bowl. The ball doesn’t turn from the first day or the first session. The wicket takes time for wear and tear. The fifth day brings with it, turn, bounce and the unevenness of the surface. It doesn’t happen on the first two days.”
Tendulkar knows “it’s got to do with the commercial side” of the game, but he wants the purists of the game to have a firm shelter in the days of massive change in the structure of Cricket. “Audience-friendly, yes, it is important. But for that, from Tests, we have moved to ODIs and T20s and now we even have T10s. So there should be something for the purists and that’s Test cricket,” Tendulkar says.
Tendulkar suggests that test cricket is the only format of the game which can test the maturity of the batsmen. “The batsmen, are they being tested in Test cricket? At least, there should be one format that should challenge the batsmen and that’s why it’s called Test cricket because it’s not over in two sessions. You need to bat for long hours on difficult surfaces at times.”
Even then, Tendulkar confirms that without good wickets, Test matches cannot get lively. “For good Test matches, you need good wickets. If the Test match pitches have quality, the game will not get boring. There are tracks where even the bowler feels he can’t get the batsman out on this surface. They then think let’s bowl maiden overs and wait for the batsmen to make mistakes. Batsmen also know that if I don’t play a foolish shot, no one can get me out,” Tendulkar says.