Don’t endorse plan for four-day Tests at all: Kohli
Terming five-day Test as the purest form of the game, Virat Kohli became the first Indian to say he isn’t batting for shaving a day off it, an idea that has sharply polarised opinion in the cricket world. “I am not a fan of (it),” he said, speaking to reporters here on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s T20I against Sri Lanka, India’s first engagement this year.
“With Test cricket, you know, day-night Test is the most (as far as changes go). Then you are only, purely talking about getting numbers in and entertainment. I think the intent will not be right then because then you will speak of three-day Test—I mean, where do you end and then you will speak of Test cricket disappearing. So I don’t endorse that at all.
“I don’t think that (it) is fair to the purest format of the game. (From) how cricket started… five-day Test matches were the highest of tests you can have at the international level. So, according to me, it should not be altered. It can’t be tinkered with too much,” said the India captain.
Kohli’s comment came days after Sourav Ganguly, the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), said he wouldn’t like to react without seeing the proposal reportedly being worked on by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for the 2023-2031 Test cycle. T20 cricket was a revelation, Kohli said, but a line needed to be drawn when it comes to introducing a new format. “I was not in favour of The Hundred (a 100-ball competition that will be started by the England and Wales Cricket Board this year),” he said. “I said I’m not going to go and try myself out in another kind of format because there’s already so much going on.”
Kohli, named captain of the ICC Test team of 2019, is possibly the biggest ambassador of cricket’s longest format. Under his captaincy, India have become the world’s No. 1 Test team and have won 12 successive Test series at home. Speaking on dwindling attendance in Tests in India, Kohli had said in Ranchi last year that specific Test centres should be identified. After last November’s day-night Test at Eden, Kohli had called for Tests in India to be made more interactive for spectators, saying fans could meet players during breaks in play. He has also said day-night Tests should not be the norm.
What Kohli said here has been backed by former Australia fast bowler Glenn McGrath and Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon who termed the idea as “ridiculous”, adding that he hoped ICC doesn’t even consider it. In this, Lyon has support from his captain Tim Paine. South Africa batsman Dean Elgar and skipper Faf du Plessis too have said they are against four-day Tests. South Africa, however, are scheduled to play a four-day Test against Zimbabwe in December.
Australia coach Justin Langer has said he doesn’t like change but if it keeps alive Test cricket it would be worth looking at. Pointing that only one-third of the Tests played in 2019 needed a fifth day, former England captain Michael Vaughan is in the opposite camp. “Apart from those of us who already love Test cricket, I don’t think Test cricket has done enough to reach a new audience. It might just bring a little more relevance if it gets shortened,” Vaughan has said. Cricket Australia (CA) CEO Kevin Roberts has said four-day Tests need to be seriously considered. “It’s something that can’t be driven by emotion but by fact—what’s the average length of Test matches over the last five to 10 years both in terms of time and overs,” he said. Over 60% of Tests since 2018 have not needed a fifth day. On the proposal scheduled to be placed this year, ECB is in CA’s corner. England played a four-day Test against Ireland last July.