Matter of time before Test cricket is dead!

Last Updated: Mon, Aug 10, 2015 12:11 hrs

Till the 2000s, the Australians were world champions in Tests and would inflict whitewashes regularly but rarely get whitewashed themselves. The 2010s have been totally different. They were whitewashed 0-2 by India in 2010, 0-4 by India again in 2013 and 0-2 by Pakistan in 2014.

England is another strong team but despite their strengths even they have been whitewashed.

They went down 0-3 to Pakistan in 2012 and an abysmal 0-5 to Australia in 2013. You don't expect a strong team to lose all five matches in a five-match Test series.

India had been playing competitive Test cricket in the 2000s but even they fell apart suffering twin 0-4 whitewashes after winning the 2011 ODI World Cup. Since then we've hardly been able to put up a fight overseas.

If this is the condition of the relatively strong teams, then there's no point talking of the weak ones. The most consistent Test team is South Africa and they have been the sole exceptions.

Though interestingly they are yet to beat Australia at home after returning from the Apartheid era!

Australia have won 5/7 Test series in South Africa with two being drawn. Talk of being a totally one-sided affair.

Even the Ashes are called the most exciting Test series around but that is far from the truth and they are usually totally one-sided affairs.

Australia won 4-1 in 2001, 4-1 in 2002, 5-0 in 2006 and 5-0 in 2013.

England won 3-1 in 2010-11, 3-0 in 2013 (when three were two Ashes in a year).

And now England leads 3-1 in the 2015 edition and it was an absolutely one-sided last match where the Aussies were an abysmal 60 all down. Sure there have been a couple of exciting 2-1s, but by and large the Ashes tend to be a totally one-sided affair and whitewashes rule.

Michael Clarke whitewashed MS Dhoni 4-0 and Dhoni whitewashed Clarke 4-0.

Clarke whitewashed Alistair Cook 5-0 and now Cook has thrashed Clarke so badly that the latter has retired.

Yawn!

Test cricket already sees an extremely low attendance and it cannot survive such one-sided affairs happening to strong teams on a regular basis.

Bangladesh and Zimbabwe have failed to really adopt Test cricket while Sri Lanka and New Zealand rarely compete abroad. The last time Pakistan played a Test series against a Top 8 nation at home was way back in 2009.

When will a strong team next tour Pakistan? Nobody knows! It is possible that the 2010s could well be a washout decade for them.

The only thing that is saving Test cricket is the ICC's refusal to push international T20s.

While we have a T20 World Cup every two years and the annual IPL, but that's about it. Do you know that the longest bilateral international T20 series India has played in its history is just two matches?

We haven't even played a bilateral international T20 series that lasts 3 matches. From 2006-15, we have played just 27 international T20s in bilateral matches (not counting the World Cup). That's less than 3 matches a year!

Imagine we tour England next. What if we had a choice between a 3-Test series and a 7-match international T20 series? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the entire T20 series would be sold out well in advance.

My young son and his friends refuse to watch even a minute of Test cricket. That's the case with most of the youngsters. Most of the people who started watching cricket after India's spectacular victory in the 2007 T20 World Cup will find it very difficult to follow a Test match.

The percentage of T20 aficionados (who will at best tolerate ODI cricket) among cricket viewers is increasing with each passing year. It's just a matter of time before a critical juncture comes when Test cricket will no longer be financially viable.

In a matter of years we could well have a bilateral series that consists of 7 international T20s, 5 ODIs and 3 Tests. Then the Tests might be dropped altogether.

The ICC will fight tooth and nail to keep Test cricket alive, but it will lose in the long run.

One can't really conceive of the Internet generation with an extremely short attention span following five days of Test cricket in the future!

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.

He blogs at http://www.sunilrajguru.com/