Four-day Tests © Getty Images (Representational Photo)
The reduction of the number of playing days from five to four was suggested by ECB Chairman Colin Graves © Getty Images (Representational Photo)

A lot has been said about Test cricket dying, due to the dwindling attendances. England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) Chairman Colin Graves has proposed to shorten Test matches from five days to four. Nikhil Popat thinks otherwise and lists down reasons as to why the four-day Tests will not work.

ECB Chairman Colin Graves said on Tuesday that he is considering to put forward proposals to shorten Test matches from five days to four. The main motive behind this proposal is to renew interest in the classical format and attract the crowds to the stadium. His suggestion was to start Test matches on Thursday and finish them on Sunday. While this move may generate interest, the balance of the game may get tampered in the long run.

Let’s have a look at the reasons the concept of four-day Test will not work.

Fitness: With a day being cut out, the number of overs per day would increase from the present 90 to 105. Reducing the number of days from five to four will first affect the players more than anybody else. The extra overs on that day are bound to make bowlers bowl more spells. We might as well see more bowlers who go off the field after their spells are done with. Even for batsmen, playing for the extra hour is going to take a toll on bodies.

With the amount of cricket being played today, especially since the advent of T20 cricket, players are at risk of being burnt out. One may say that the five-day Tests may be tiring but that workload is spread over all those days. In a four-day Test, a player will have more workload on a particular day, which could be more strenuous.

Venues: It is important to notice that England play their cricket in summer, so do Australia and New Zealand but not the sub-continent teams. In those countries the days are long and there is enough light to play the proposed 105-overs per day game. But the cricketing season for the Asian teams coincides with the winter season. That almost rules out a 7-hour play day. So getting the four-day Tests will materialise only in limited venues which does not make it a feasible option.

Pitches: Pitches are generally favouring the batsmen these days. Generally, one feels at Day Two and Three are the best for batting. So in a four-day Test, one may see bat dominate the ball even more. The normal five-day pitch may have a lot more help for the bowlers which may be lost or will have to be accounted for while making the deck for the game. Administrators often like to seeing pitches suitable for batting.

Weather: In case of rain, the four-day Tests may get even more dicey. Currently, losing a day due to rain still leaves you with four. England, could be the last place one can bank on for good weather throughout the four days. That makes a 3-day Test even more unlikely to get a result. We might need a reserve day in case of a rain-curtailed game.

Results: We are getting to see a lot of draws — some of them high-scoring. It is a vicious circle, the pitches will have to be conducive enough, the conditions will have to good enough to produce a good contest. We might as well see a pattern of events which may be followed going further. Toss may become even more crucial. Teams will wish to bat first, bat for two days and just bat teams out of the game. Yes, this has been the pattern for games around the domestic circuit in many countries but the level of cricket and competitiveness differs for obvious reasons.

(Nikhil Popat is a cricket lover and a PotterHead, who loves to be himself. He can be followed on Twitter @CricCrazyNIKS)