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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

The new Test dress code will help the longer format

Traditionalists should not scoff. Putting players’ names and squad numbers on the back of their shirts in no way dilutes the essence of the game.

editorials Updated: Mar 25, 2019 07:42 IST

Hindustan Times
In the forthcoming Test series between England and Australia, players will take to the field in white shirts which will have their names and squad numbers on them
In the forthcoming Test series between England and Australia, players will take to the field in white shirts which will have their names and squad numbers on them(AFP)
         

In the forthcoming Test series between England and Australia, players will take to the field in white shirts which will have their names and squad numbers on them. This is a first in the 142-year history of the game. Limited-overs cricket, played in coloured clothing, has the names and squad numbers of players. The 1992 World Cup first introduced players’ names on shirts; the 1999 World Cup added numbers.

But such a thing has been unheard of in Test cricket, the game’s oldest, longest, and, some hold, most prestigious version of the game. Names and squad numbers are ostensibly being introduced so that spectators — whether in the stadium or watching on TV — can easily identify the players. This has sound logic. Not being able to tell which player is in action on the field detracts from the enjoyment of the game. And it is often hard to make out, especially when a spectator is seated in the upper tiers of a large stadium, who has fielded a ball, taken a catch or effected a run out. Further, younger fans who have grown up on a staple of limited-overs cricket, take such a thing for granted; being denied it during Tests offers them one more reason to not engage with the longer form of the game. Besides, in other team sports such as basketball and hockey, players have their names on the back of their shirts. Why should Test cricket remain an exception?

Test cricket needs to adapt to stay relevant. Any adaptation that makes Tests friendlier to the follower is crucial. That is how it will be able to survive and thrive in an era when it is no longer seen as the most popular version of the sport. Traditionalists should not scoff. Putting players’ names and squad numbers on the back of their shirts in no way dilutes the essence of the game, in no way corrodes the soul of Test cricket. As long as Test matches like the one in which beleaguered Sri Lanka beat South Africa in Durban earlier this year continue to be played, that soul will remain intact. If players go on to showcase such thrilling exploits with their names on the back of their shirts, so be it.

First Published: Mar 25, 2019 07:42 IST

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