in need of a new heart - Test cricket


A blog by Donthaveaclue


There are two popular inferences from the recently concluded Border-Gavaskar trophy.

1. The era of Australian dominance has ended
2. The era of Indian dominance has officially begun

I could launch an attack on these inferences but will suffice to say that any inferences about dominance and the end of eras are usually proved wrong in the matter of a series or two, mostly because, believe it or not, there are more than two teams playing international cricket.

What happens when England go on to beat India two-zip or when Australia thrash New Zealand? Even if other permutations happen, one can safely assume that the pecking order in sport, is not as easily re-written.

The series did not produce cricket of a quality we have come to expect of the two teams.
And hence, our attention ends up on the poor levels of sportsmanship displayed by both teams. Any non-cricketing events of note are fine, as long as they only serve to initiate tabloid-frenzies.

Here however, the very point of watching test cricket has been brought into question.

Slow Over Rates

The Problem:
It is one thing when the volatility of the match-situation has captains re-thinking their field placements every delivery, but when captains knowingly slow the game down to slow the opposition, test cricket might as well throw down its weapons before the shorter versions. The Australians had abysmal over rates right through the series. However, India’s over rate on the final morning of the series seemed maliciously slow to prevent the Aussie victory charge.

Solution

  • Enforce session minimums of 30 overs
  • Penalize teams, not with fines and suspensions in subsequent games, but in a manner that seriously hurt the offender’s prospects in that game. Add runs to the opposing team’s total by the number of shortfall overs at double the greater of the innings or session run-rate
    e.g. If India bowled only 22 overs in the morning session and Australians scored 100 runs translating into a runrate of 4.54, add 73 runs (8 overs @ 4.54 X 2 = 9.08). See if that doesn’t gets captains to get a move on.

Negative field-placements

The Problem:
Innovative field-placements to induce false strokes are an integral part of good test cricket. However, when the objective is only to make the batsmen take inordinate risks to score any runs with no intent to getting them out in conventional ways, the viewers get short-changed. This is most likely to be done by teams that lead the series going into the final match.

Solution:

  • Give the trailing side first-choice instead of having a coin-toss.
    This ensures that the team more likely to push for a result gets a chance to do so. Or better yet, alternate first picks in a series, with the first pick being given to the visiting side since the home side already has the advantage of the conditions
  • There would have to be some subjectivity on the part of the umpires to determine whether tactics being employed reduced the possibility of a result and hence should be deemed negative. One possible rule could be to limit the number of boundary-riders, which would include those at 3rd man and fine-leg.

There is no doubt that if a marquee contest like India-Australia can turn into a snooze-fest,
some definite steps are required
to maintain the veracity of Test cricket.


donthaveaclue’s own website: Outside Edge

[Image of a failing heart from http://www.covenantheartinstitute.com/]


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