The first test match between England and New Zealand, which ended so dramatically on Sunday, was proof that test match cricket has a huge future despite some pessimistic views of the game at this level.
Whilst England and New Zealand battle for the honours in this test series the much vaunted Indian Premier League is drawing to a close. Twenty/20 cricket admittedly is a huge attraction for many but In my view test cricket will always be the winner despite the instant fame and financial wealth that the IPL brings with it.
In terms of instant gratification the IPL has it all. Fast moving, high energy cricket that produces a result in just a few hours. However, test cricket provides so much more than that. Test cricket is dictated by the weather conditions, the winning or losing of the toss, the pitch’s behaviour over five days and lets not forget the highly skilled professionals on show.
Test cricket is all about competing in all different conditions around the world to gain any slight advantage over your opposition or seizing upon the slightest opportunity in order to gain victory. Test cricket is much more subtle than Twenty/20 cricket where any change in conditions can make a huge difference as can a burst of quality from any one individual or a simple good or bad session from the team.
The test match at Lords was a real example of test cricket at its best. Each session of cricket was contested keenly by both sides with the advantage in the game moving between the sides on many occasions. Individuals shone by showing their true skills and stamina and the pitch and overhead weather conditions added to the drama.
At no point could anybody say that one side were certainties to win the match right up until the lunch interval on day four where England had gained a winning advantage due to the fantastic bowling of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad. This is why the public pay high ticket prices because test cricket has the ability to entertain for a full day. It was by no means a run fest, with Joe Root top scoring in the match with 71, but it was a true contest between bat and ball.
The IPL has its fans and there is a place for it in the game but for people to suggest it is the future of our beloved game is way off the mark. Twenty/20 has brought crowds to the one-day game, particular youngsters and families who want to be entertained immediately and we should be thankful for that. However, test cricket is where the real skill lies with just as much entertainment for those who are more finely tuned to the idiosyncrasies and fine margins in the game.
I find it much easier to remember a memorable test match performance than I would do a one day innings. There is a lot of one day cricket played these days which perhaps dilutes this format of the game but test cricket and representing your country is still the ultimate for any cricketer and that is how it should remain. I cannot understand players who retire from test cricket but continue to play in Twenty/20 competitions. Their decision must surely be based on financial gain especially if they have years of cricket ahead of them.
The crowds at the Lords test match showed how the game is still loved in England. Sold out for the first four days at England’s largest test ground, against an opposition who are by no means the worlds best, shows that the English public are still very much engaged with this form of the game.
Whether test cricket will continue as the main form of cricket across other countries is still open for debate. India is the prime example of this. The IPL is huge in India and with their test team suffering the retirement of many star names recently the game is now at a crossroads. Let's hope test cricket prevails.
Without test cricket we would not have some of the great players both past and present in the game. Despite being attractive I believe that one day cricket, particularly Twenty/20, will never overtake test cricket as the premier format of the game. Call me a traditionalist but a day of test cricket is much more interesting than the hustle and bustle of Twenty/20.
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