Belfast Telegraph

John Laverty: Four-day matches will never be a proper test for top-level cricket

Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes
John Laverty

By John Laverty

It's easy to see why the four-day Test is just around the corner.

Less time, faster pace, more enjoyable viewing - and, for broadcasters, the end of the dreaded 'blank Mondays' when a match inconveniently ends a day early.

Apparently it will also help keep hold of the younger spectators who were mesmerised by last year's ODI World Cup final 'super over' climax and the astonishing Ben Stokes-inspired Ashes comeback. so come on guys; what's not to like?

Well, here's one possible bump in the road: no one with a genuine interest in Test cricket - i.e. players and spectators - wants to change a format which has existed, largely untouched, for over a century.

For them, the five-day game is the ultimate test (if you'll forgive the pun) of skill, strategy, endurance, stamina and character. And they're right. You don't go to, or watch, or listen to, a five-day Test for its non-stop entertainment value; the duller bits are accepted as part of the overall narrative.

A shorter game will merely make it more convenient, but not necessarily better.

And, with 98 overs a day proposed in the new format (scheduled for 2023), players - especially bowlers - are likely to be more, not less, exhausted by the end.

This, in turn, could denude the fine art of spin bowling - a fifth-day staple - and make drawn matches more, not less, likely.

Oh, and where would the precious wriggle room for rain-affected matches come from?

Methinks the only thing this proposal will truly accelerate is a wonderful sport's demise.

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