England board ‘cautiously’ open to backing the idea of four-day Tests, says report - GulfToday

England board ‘cautiously’ open to backing the idea of four-day Tests, says report


Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts said last week that the board would ‘seriously consider’ playing four-day Tests.

England will be “cautiously” backing a proposal to make four-day tests mandatory from 2023 under the World Test Championship, joining a growing push to shorten the game’s longest format.

The ICC cricket committee is likely to consider four-day Test matches as being part of the World Test Championship from 2023.

According to an ESPNcricinfo report, the ICC’s increasing demand for event windows, the proliferation of domestic T20 leagues, the BCCI’s demands for its own sizeable share of bilateral calendar space, and the costs of staging Test series are all factors contributing to the move.

“We believe it could provide a sustainable solution to the complex scheduling needs and player workloads we face as a global sport,” an England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) spokesperson told London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper here.

“We’re definite proponents of the four-day test concept, but cautiously so, as we understand it’s an emotive topic for players, fans and others who have concerns about challenging the heritage of test cricket.”

The ECB did not immediately reply to a Reuters e-mail seeking further elaboration.

Ashes rivals Australia already seem to be taking the same view. Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts said last week that the board would “seriously consider” playing four-day tests.

The other “Big Three” member of the ICC, the powerful Indian board, has yet to declare its stance on the matter, with its president Sourav Ganguly saying he wants to see the proposal before commenting.

“First we will have to see the proposal, let it come and then we will see. It’s too early to say. Can’t comment just like this,” Ganguly had said.

Four-day matches were given the green light by the ICC in 2017, when South Africa hosted one against Zimbabwe, while England played one against Ireland in July this year.

With an increasing number of test matches ending prematurely, the administrators are keen to free up more space in the schedules for lucrative shorter form matches. Australia batsman Travis Head believes test cricket should not be denied the possibility of late drama on a fifth-day wicket.

“I think that (five-day tests) plays a lot with the wicket, brings spin into play,” Head told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

“So I’d like to keep it at five days,” he added, echoing skipper Tim Paine’s view that test cricket should remain a five-day affair.

The Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA) fears the new gaps in calendar could well be filled with more cricket.

“It would take pressure off the schedule but our concern would be that the ad hoc way the schedule currently works they would simply plug in more cricket into the gaps,” FICA chief Tony Irish told ESPNcricinfo.

While four-day tests allow a golf-like Thursday-to-Sunday scheduling, they require a minimum of 98 overs a day to be played, a challenge considering five-day matches already often fall short of their daily quota of 90 overs.

Meanwhile, South African cricket captain Faf du Plessis said he believes cricket needs more, not fewer, elite nations.

Speaking after South Africa’s 107-run win in the first Test against England on Sunday, Du Plessis was asked his opinion about plans for an annual ‘Super Series’ of one-day games, involving the so-called ‘Big Three’ of India, Australia and England, with one other country to be invited on a revolving basis.

“The last year or so you can see what’s going on in terms of the big three countries,” he said.

“There’s a lot of movement going towards that, a lot more matches being played against the top three, or big three. It’s probably better if you include more teams, the better to grow the game as much as you can.”

Du Plessis pointed out that there was inequality of fixtures, especially in Test cricket, with new Test nations such as Ireland and Afghanistan struggling to get fixtures.

“There’s a lot of smaller nations not playing a lot of Test cricket, they’re actually playing less,” he said.


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