Schedules Are Damaging Test Cricket
Test cricket is a wonderful thing. With all its nuances and all its star players, it's the most enchanting form of the game. It is, however, easy to mount a high horse about the damage other formats of the game are doing to it. It's easy to say that Twenty20 cricket is damaging Tests because batsmen no longer know how to build an innings and bowlers no longer know how to bowl in long spells. Most of those statements are pretty shallow.
There is room for both formats to operate in harmony and so it should be. Test cricket needs the shorter format to make money. The shorter format needs Test cricket far less and that's why a parasitical environment needs to be stopped before it gets out of hand.
Take the Champions League schedule, for example. Otago have been the dark horses and could very well qualify for the semifinal of the tournament. New Zealand are due to play a Test series against Bangladesh, which starts on October 9, with just one warm-up game to play from October 4-6. The semifinals of the CLt20 are played on October 4 and 5, with the final on October 6. This means that a number of New Zealand's key players will miss the warm-up game should they progress. Of course, for Otago, making it this far is a tremendous achievement, which holds great momentary value, but should it happen while sacrificing time to adjust to the longer format?
Many will argue that perhaps those who had been playing in the Clt20 don't need the warm-up game. They've been playing cricket at a very competitive level, which should have been more than enough to get them ready. However, a three-day turnover from T20 to Tests is a tough ask, even of the best of players.
Pakistan and South Africa have thought their scheduling out a bit more carefully. With the two sides due to meet in the UAE starting on October 14, their warm-up matches are scheduled to begin on October 8.
Even with that, though, travel time would have been tight had the Lions or should the Titans make the semifinal or the final of the competition.
Underscore all of this with the humongous amount of unnecessary one-day internationals being played all around the world—something often based on monetary value, rather than context—and the longest format of the game faces a small problem.
Teams will only get better by playing more Test cricket, and while the strengths of the full-member teams is skewed, to shy away from allowing them opportunities to submerse themselves in a way which will build and better their skills is a shame.
All three formats can live happily ever after, and the damage that is being done to the game through interference from other formats is limited at the moment, but there is room to ponder where it all might end.
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