Latest News | Save Test Cricket? Save Yourself! by Adam Hollioake

I was asked recently to join a petition to try to save Test Cricket and whilst my initial reaction was “yes of course I will”, on deeper reflection I have come to the conclusion that “no I won’t”. I am sure this will have most of you up in arms. But before you burn me at the stake, hear me out.
Do I think Test Cricket is the best form of the game? Undoubtedly yes! Do I hope the game survives? “Absolutely” But….not in its current format. Is there anything better than a closely fought Ashes Series? Not many thing compare.
However this isn’t an argument the people who are trying to save Test Cricket can hang off! It is once every 2 or 3 years we get to see the Ashes and other than the odd series involving either South Africa or India (I would include Pakistan, but they are lost at the moment) then there isn’t too much to get excited about. You can end up waiting 2 years for a decent series!
What is our sport of Test Cricket up against? OK let’s look at 2 sports of the modern era. Football (the reigning King of sports) Football has several games on each weekend, they get results, there is a table with which to compare where your team sits in comparison to others and then at the end of each season someone will be declared champion and etched in history for that particular year, then add to this you still have the rest of your weekend to do what you please. If we are talking International Football then there is a World Cup.
Then there is the UFC, exciting explosive and you get to see 8 winners and losers within a 3 hour period all aimed at holding a World Title Belt aloft.
Compare that to Test Cricket where you have 5 days of 7hour action and then you may or may not have a winner at the end of it. So lets say you do have a winner, where is the finish line? England recently became No 1 Test Side in the world…all very exciting, but when are they crowned No1? Never…you are only No1 until you are not No1 anymore…Meaning you are just there to get knocked down. You never get to raise a trophy etc etc.
Add to this the fact that no one has 5 days to watch a game of cricket or a game of anything for that matter! Take some time to think about this magine a 5 day soccer game….. My wife came up with a great analogy the other day, she said “if there was a film that had the best actors, the best story line, the best Directors and producers, with the most expensive special effects, would you go and watch it? My reply was “Of course” She then said “What if I told you the film lasted 5 days and I couldn’t guarantee you seeing the End?” I thought long and hard and at that moment realized that Test Cricket is desperately in need of an over haul…It is Outdated and to say it should be kept because of tradition just doesn’t fly not with me but by the games jury…the public.
I saw an interesting article the other day that stated that people aren’t even taking proper holidays anymore and have even resorted to taking their work with them on holiday. This is a sign that people just don’t have the time anymore.
I can see everyone who has grown up watching Test Cricket getting extremely annoyed by these statements….But don’t be annoyed by my statements…The fact is Test cricket will survive or fall on its sword based on the people that watch it. I see so many empty stadiums and don’t hear many people talking about Test cricket like they do the shorter forms of the game other than us old people who grew up on it. The young Playstation 3 generation are into immediate action, entertainment and results.
In a nutshell Test Cricket needs to sort itself out to get my vote. What I suggest is we have a super league with the top 4 teams playing against each other home and away. With a trophy lifted at the end of the year for the winning side. I would then have a 2nd division with the next 4 teams etc etc all the way down to the bottom sides from the ICC. That way the best sides get where they are on merit and don’t have to play meaningless Test series. The game itself is fighting very stiff competition in the form of shorter more action packed sports so the format has to be spot on to beat of this competition. One argument that will come back at me is that the smaller countries won’t survive….Well truth is maybe that needs to be the case to allow the game of Test Cricket to continue.
I remember my thoughts exactly when the ECB announced the 20/20 competition in the UK…I thought, are they kidding me….fact is it is now a part of the game and we don’t think anything about it. We played about 5 action packed games infront of full crowds…I remember 6’s, wickets, action! We then went up to Nottinghamshire to play a 4-day game. The first over was bowled by Martin Bicknell who bowled 4 beautiful balls just outside off stump…the batsman left all 6…we all clapped and yelled out well bowled Bickers then jogged 40 yards to the other end (1st slip to 1st slip) where we hoped the next bowler would do the same. It was at this moment where I thought…wow this is boring….I can only imagine what the crowd was thinking.
One thing that is certain is the public holds no emotional attachment to the game and they will watch what they please. So please Test Cricket sort yourself out before you go asking people to beg for your survival. Entertainment will evolve with or without Test Cricket and if Test Cricket doesn’t bring in some interesting new innovations and rules that balance the traditions of the game with entertainment then I am afraid it is looking down a very long barrel. So for now I choose not to give my vote to save Test Cricket but instead will stand back with interest and watch the decisions that will inevitably decide its future for it.
by Adam Hollioake