It was interesting and enlightening to see the concerns fans had over my idea of reverting to three-day Tests.
Interesting that fans didn’t want to tamper with Test cricket and enlightening that there’s so much concern for the future of the five day game. Considering there still appears to be a lot of love for the longer game and India is currently on a mission to claim the No. 1 Test ranking for the first time, this might be the appropriate moment to propose a plan that combines those two notions.
Look upon this as cricket’s global warming challenge.
It may mean the next generation is paying for past excesses but if we don’t act quickly there might be nothing left to save.
The No. 1 ranked side would be best decided by playing a World Test championship amongst the eight major nations. This needs to be achieved in the minimum of time, hence a series of three day Tests.
The secret is to produce a ball that will accommodate day/night Tests. If the right ball becomes available you can play three, seven-hour days. If the administrators and players agree to some compromises then an over-rate of sixteen an hour is feasible. If this were achieved the championship games would relate to about the same number of balls bowled as in four days of a modern Test.
The compromises include full-sized sightboards with no advertising on them, no television replays to decide boundaries, a back-foot no-ball law to virtually eradicate over-stepping, ball boys beyond the ropes and strictly controlling drinks on the field. If a team falls behind the rate the captain is suspended from the next championship game.
The pebble in the shoe is the Decision Review System [DRS] which will slow the game. In Championship matches the DRS should only be used when the third umpire over-rules an absolute howler.
This would be a viable tournament to crown a World Test champion rather than a team claiming number one ranking on a computer.
Matches could be played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This makes back-to-back-to-back Tests more realistic with the players having ample rest between matches contested on fan friendly days of the week.
For the Championship to have any chance of success certain the prize money and the points system must be pitched to substantially reward outright victory. Pitches must provide a reasonable balance between bat and ball and games must be played where and when the chances of rain are negligible.
Administrators could also consider eradicating not outs so that batsmen don't place too much emphasis on their average.
Nowadays, with so much competition from other sports and even within cricket, the longer game needs to give fans a reason to go to the ground rather than them having the option to get up and leave.
This could become a fast-moving Championship that favours teams like India with the ultra-aggressive Virender Sehwag leading the charge and Australia with a wicket-taking fast bowler in Mitchell Johnson. The intensity of these battles would be heightened by competing on pitches that encourage results.