Sachin Tendulkar has vehemently opposed the ICC proposal to introduce four-day Tests for the 2023-2031 championship cycle. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
There is a new debate raging on revamping the Test format in the new Future Tours Cycle from 2023 to 2031. The ICC Cricket Committee is planning to recommend mandatory 4-day Tests during the 2023-2031 World Test Championship cycle. Unlike 5-day Tests which see 90 overs bowled in a day, 4-day Tests will have 98 overs in a day. With more than 60 percent of Test matches since 2018 finishing inside 4 days, the ICC is reportedly considering mandatory 4-day Tests to free up schedule for other limited-overs assignments and franchise-based leagues. The proposal for 4-day Tests has received green signal from the likes of Michael Vaughan and Mark Taylor while the Big 3 of India, Australia and England have hinted they won't dismiss the idea.
However, the proposed plan has gotten massive criticism from the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Nathan Lyon and India cricket team skipper Virat Kohli. Now, Sachin Tendulkar, the greatest cricketer ever, has dismissed the notion of four-day Tests and has urged the ICC to not tinker with the purest format of the game.
"From a purist's point of view and being 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. The batsmen will start thinking that it is a longer version of limited overs match because the moment you bat till the second day lunch, you know that there's only two and half days to go. That changes the thinking and dynamics of the game," Tendulkar told in an exclusive interaction with PTI.
The other worrying aspect could be spinners being rendered ineffective with a day less in hand. "Taking away the fifth day track from a spinner is like taking away the first day track from a fast bowler. There is no fast bowler in the world who wouldn't want to bowl on a fifth day track. 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 explained.
Tendulkar fully understands that there's a commercial aspect and audience interest attached to the game but he wants one format to remain the true Test of batsmanship. "We first need to understand why do they want it and what are the reasons for that. That's one side of it and obviously it's got to do with the commercial side as well. 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 said.
Tendulkar has time and again stressed on the need to have good Test match wickets. "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 that 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. 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," Tendulkar said.