Ramiz Raja proposes Test 'window' idea to save five-day cricket

Former Pakistan opening batsman believes interest in longest format of game in Asia is dwindling


Afp July 05, 2017
PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

LONDON: Former Pakistan batsman Ramiz Raja has urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) to set aside a two-month window solely for Test matches in a bid to preserve the longest form of the game.

While crowds for Tests in countries such as England remain strong, Ramiz, a member of the influential MCC world cricket committee, fears interest in Asia is "dwindling" thanks partly to the rise of lucrative domestic T20 competitions such as the Indian Premier League.

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"I feel that the ICC has a decent plan in the shape of the World Test Championship," said Ramiz after a committee meeting at Lord's on Tuesday. "There should be a window for that and everything else should stop for a period of two months so the best players are available to play Test cricket."

He added: "It's got to get better. In Asia, for example, because of poor Test match scheduling, the interest is dwindling. When you go back home you are never sure if you are going to have a one-Test series, a two-Test series or whether you are going to have a Test series at all."

Raja said national governing bodies such as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had to play their part as well.

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"You have to acknowledge and respect the status of Test match cricket and it has to come from the cricket boards, in Asia specifically,” he said. "For example, MS Dhoni retired from Test cricket yet got the A-grade contract from the BCCI, Shahid Afridi retired from Test cricket yet got the A-grade contract from PCB.”

Ramiz insisted that a Test championship is a way out to save the longest format of the game in the future. "It is under a lot of stress in Asia but if we have a properly planned Test match championship, that's the way out of this, otherwise we will be struggling to put aside as much money as is available for the T20 leagues."

Meanwhile the committee, whose members also include such illustrious names as Ricky Ponting, Brendon McCullum, Sourav Ganguly and Kumar Sangakkara, has come down against reducing Tests from five days to four days after it was suggested a shorter game might be more fan-friendly.

"Last time we met, the committee was split, with some believing we should trial four-day Test matches," said outgoing chairman Mike Brearley, the former England captain. "This time, most of us thought, looking at the fact that over half the matches that got results last year got results in the fifth day, that we didn't want Test cricket to become more boring. So from a cricket point of view, we believe they should stay five days."

The committee also urged the ICC to move quickly to try to get cricket included for the 2024 Olympics, which will be staged in either Los Angeles or Paris.

"It is crucial to have cricket in the Olympics because the game will be introduced to many new parts of the world," said Ramiz. "But for that to happen we have to present a unified front from cricket that we want to be included in the Games. Los Angeles would be perfect — I played cricket there and you'd get massive crowds."

Brearley added it also be a huge boost to cricket in China as the Chinese government would inject huge funds if they had an Olympic team.

COMMENTS (3)

Yul47 | 4 years ago | Reply Perhaps Ramiz Raja has felt that we are nearing the death of test cricket unless drastic surgery is done. Whilst a two months window should be explored, but perhaps as in tennis whereby most men's game is over 3 sets, test cricket should be revamped a 3 days one innings event. It makes little or no sense to continue with the older format of the game spread over 5 days and will reduce stress factor or injuries associated with the game. Well done Ramiz to have highlighted so a proper debate be carried out extending to ICC.
Yul47 | 4 years ago | Reply Whilst Ramiz Raja has good intentions to keep the longer form of game alive, the reality is that television, which had kept test cricket alive is facing dwindling audience and perhaps has reached a point where transmission not be commercial either viable. If test cricket is to be kept alive, drastic surgery is required perhaps the game played over 3 days, one innings event. If the game is played over 3 days, it will reduce injuries or stress factor so often associated with the longer form. The shorter form will bring exciting prospects including world cricket championship even being played every 3 years.
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