Ricochet News

Four-day Test cricket highly disfavoured for betterment of the game

By Marc Jacobson - Oct 4, 2017
Four-day Test cricket highly disfavoured for betterment of the game

With the first day-night, four-day test match set to be trialled by Cricket South Africa (CSA) when the Proteas face Zimbabwe at St. Georges Park in the traditional Boxing Day Test, much controversy seems to loom over whether the convention should be lab-ratted at all.

Coined a ‘pink-ball’ Test, with the innovation of day-night Test matches only being introduced just over two years ago, Port Elizabeth will to the least, be granted a nick-point of experimentation for international Test cricket standards, when they host the encounter.

The experimental match comes after India pulled out of their Boxing Day Test – scheduled to be their first tour match to South Africa, after a clash in bilateral series that precedes the tour, saw them having too ‘little leeway to prepare.’

As a result, the experimental Zimbabwean Test match surfaced, on the forefront of experimenting with two diversions – that of day-night and four-day, something completely new to Zimbabwe specifically.

Haroon Lorgat, former CSA CEO who sprouted the idea for the ‘experimentation’, departed of his services with CSA last week after mutually experiencing an untenable relationship.

However, CSA is still set to give the go-head on the fixture, with the trialled match still pending official Test match status by the International Cricket Council (ICC), up for confirmation at the Chief Executives Conference in New Zealand next week.

Due to the changes in administration of the Proteas Head Coach, formerly Russel Domingo (now Ottis Gibson), as well as Lorgat parting ways as CSA CEO, there has been a lack of consultation with the players and the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA); and as a result, the concept has been disfavoured amongst the directly affected personnel.

“I expressed the same concern to CSA before Haroon left – the fact that there was no proper consultation,” Tony Irish, CEO of SACA said in a statement.

“There are a lot of cricket aspects involved. It is quite a big change to a format. It’s four days and day-night, playing against a team that has never played with a pink ball [Zimbabwe]. It’s the combination of four-day and day-night that concerns,” he added.

Some Proteas players also expressed their disregard for the concept, and after South Africa just thrashed Bangladesh by 333 runs in Potchefstroom on Monday, with the match seeping into a robust fifth-day morning by the home side, captain Faf du Plessis objected to the experiment in the post-match.

"I am a fan of five-day Test cricket. I believe the great Test matches have gone to the last hour of the last day on day five. That's what is so special about Test cricket,” du Plessis said.

"For five days you have to graft it out. Bowlers have to bowl a lot more and batters have to construct much bigger innings.”

"This Test proved that a day five was needed. If it was a rain-off yesterday, it would have been very disappointing so I am a fan of that."

Opening batsman, Dean Elgar, who earned himself man-of-the-match against Bangladesh after scoring 199 and 18 runs in each innings respectively, shared similar disdain sentiments.

"I don't think you should tinker with something that's not broken. If you go and play around the world, Test cricket is followed quite well,” he said.

"There are other formats that are being experimented with. I don't see why Test cricket should suffer. I am a purist when it comes to that. Hopefully the game can have longevity in the five-day format."

To back those comments up, there really is not a need for experimenting on four-day Test cricket, when four-day First-Class cricket in South Africa has recently been foundational to the failures it would bring to the game as a whole.

With the annual Sunfoil Series having started two weeks ago, with each side already having played two four-day games each and six games altogether – all six matches have been restricted to draws.

This bears testament to how pivotal a fifth day of unlimited overs cricket brings to the game, specifically in the case of heeding results; after all what point is there to a four-day long contest, if there is no winning outcome? This will also further be hampered in the case of rain delays and adverse weather conditions.

A fifth day’s play would have certainly been a determinant for many of those encounters, with sides in many such cases gaining ascendencies as the games grew to a close – only to be restricted to a draw due to time constraints.

Whatever the outcome though, whether the experimental match against Zimbabwe at St. Georges Park is played or not – it should not be implemented, and that for the betterment of the game.   

Image: Faf du Plessis, in front of wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock.