I am concerned, hugely concerned. All stakeholders of the game have to be on the same page if Test cricket is to survive. What’s the point of wasting five days in the sun if the game itself is done to death?
The last thing Test cricket needs is pitches like the SSC. Not is it a disservice to the game, even the sponsors, media and public feel terribly let down. Without the support of the three, Test cricket will have no future. Then Test teams can have their own little party and better pick up the bills.
So many issues with Test cricket are terribly skewed. It was alright in 1980s when there was little competition from ODIs or Twenty20s. Teams took early advantage in tailor-made conditions and then contrived to produce dull, drab draws. A trophy won was a huge pull for your home audience.
Careers were prolonged and legends built.
Not so in modern era when newer formats have pushed Test cricket to brink. It seems abandoned by officials. Younger cricketers are irresistibly drawn to rewards of shorter formats. In the face of such an onslaught, pitches like the SSC can only appear criminal and laden with conspiracy. Harsh words, but I don’t know how to sugar-coat it. Pitches in the sub-continent, for sometime, have struggled for life. Indeed, worldwide tracks have slowed down. Shorter formats have also affected the quality of bowlers. Quite a few of them have left the game in recent times — Warne, Kumble, Flintoff, Lee and now Murali. The likes of Akhtar are in the last lap. Contests in Test cricket, as it is, are bound to suffer.
Till administrators combine their will and resources, and persuade sponsors, Tests need a shot in the arm. Stipulated overs in two innings could be a way forward. Or the day-night idea. There is no time left. The patient must be revived before he slips into a coma.
A cheerful note to end this piece though - Sachin Tendulkar obviously has set sights on something which we mere mortals can’t see. A century of international hundreds is now within sight. Or is it 200 Tests and a career in the 40s? Let’s leave the great man to his own devices while we stand as one and salute this massive legend of our times.
The bottom line is that 1000 people might have warched the Test, not to forget a few hundred on television. More Test matches like the one that just finished — thank God for that- and there will be one bloke and his dog watching the game.