Why does ICC want 4-day Test cricket?
After the news came through that ICC was planning to reduce the length of Test matches to 4 days, the response from the players towards the proposal has been very unwelcoming.
To quote the Indian captain Virat Kohli who is one of the most influential figures in world cricket at the moment, “Test cricket is the purest form of the game and it shouldn’t be tinkered with too much.” While there is nothing wrong with what Virat has said, ICC has its own reasons to consider a proposal like this.
The moment any sport gets professional, it becomes a business and unless and until a product is profitable in a business, it can’t be persisted with. There are two motives of playing any sport at the professional level. One is to have large viewership and high TRP numbers and the second is to secure the commercial interests of the players involved in the game.
The two are closely inter-related. The commercial interests of the players can only be secured if more and more people are watching the game because it’s ultimately the viewership which draws the sponsors.
If every Test match is reduced to 4 rather than 5 days, it will serve both purposes that are currently not being served. As it has been reported, if the proposal of 4-Day Test matches gets a clearance, every Test match will start on a Thursday and end on a Sunday.
The second innings of the Test matches are more gripping and more result-oriented. If the fans get to have that part of the games on weekends, the viewership would increase.
Secondly, cutting down a day from every Test match will free up a number of days in totality for ICC to scheduler much more limited-over games. ICC can possibly organize more multi-team tournaments and might allow some space for the expansion of the T20 leagues as well.
Either way, it will bring more money. If ICC’s revenue increases, it benefits the member boards. If the member boards get richer, it benefits the players.
Nobody likes to break the traditions and certainly not those who have devoted a large part of their lives to something traditional. But, in the fast moving modern world, there comes a time where pragmatism overtakes the emotions, particularly if it’s needed for commercial feasibility.
While, ICC’s planning for the future of Test cricket is based on pragmatism, the opposition that the game’s governing body is facing from the players is largely emotional.
Cover picture credits: ICC-cricket.com