With the final Ashes Test under-way, you would think Test cricket was in great shape to move forward into the future. Big crowds, healthy TV ratings and plenty of media interest- but that can't be said about the whole of Test cricket.
It's just over ten years since the invention of twenty/20 cricket and no one can argue that the exciting, fast-paced form of the game has injected more interest into cricket. But has it come at a cost, has the rise of the slog fest coincided with the demise of the purest form of the game-Test cricket?
It is widely agreed that Test cricket still poses the biggest examination of a cricketer's skill and temperament. So why are we seeing fans leave it in their droves? And it isn't just the fans that have faded away. Players of the some of the "lesser" Test playing nations are increasing more likely to head off to play in tournaments such as the IPL instead of playing Test cricket for their country.
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We just have to look at the West Indian team that lined up to play against England earlier this year. Dwayne Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russel and Sunil Narine all played in the IPL instead of putting their skills to the mark against England in the Test arena.
But can we really blame them? Lucrative salaries in the IPL and other twenty/20 franchises around the world, when they receive modest ones from their countries, less time playing, more media attention and they get to play in stadiums that are full.
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With teams in India, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, West Indies and so on playing in front of empty stadiums, can Test cricket survive? Or will we eventually just see an Ashes Test series every two years?
Why are we moving away from Test Cricket around the world? Maybe it's because our lives are so busy nowadays and we don't have time to sit down and watch a whole day of sport. Maybe it's because we want our entertainment delivered quickly and over in the same day, where we can go to our work and then attend a game at night and watch it to it's conclusion.
If we want the oldest form of the game to continue as a credible, healthy big brother to it's younger counterparts then we have to look into how it can be made more commercial viable.
The possible solutions
Here are some suggestions to consider: making sure the Tests are always played and finished over the weekend, day/night Tests, four day games with extra overs in the day (leaving the fifth day in case the game is affected by rain)
Another option to look at is a points based league where each Test playing nation compete against each other home and away over a two or three year period.
There would be a Test playing champions and relegation, which would mean each nation had something to play for in every Test and would give the players an added incentive. If the league was a success it would bring in more money and we could upgrade teams like Ireland to Test status, which can only grow and benefit the game in the long run.
It is clear that if we want Test cricket to stay then we may have to make some changes. Everything moves forward and maybe we just have to be more inventive with our great game to keep it healthy and strong.
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