Someone save test cricket from itself, please!
Despite having just come off one of the all time classic test wins for Australia in the boxing day test today Test cricket has once again shown itself to be stuck in past . Today it showed that it has little interest in its paying spectators or seemingly its place in the ever crowded world of sport and entertainment.
In Melbourne a test greatly disrupted by weather had seemingly left neither side time to claim a win, in the end though Australia were able to bowl Pakistan out on the last day to post an improbable innings plus win.
It once again showed why test cricket is still the ultimate form of the game. There are ebbs and flows. Periods where one side is on top, then the other and tight sessions of a virtual arm wrestle where neither side can get an advantage.
Hidden behind that gripping finish were however lurking issues around the rain interruptions and how the game handles them. However the end result meant in the end there was little focus on that aspect of the game.
So we rolled onto Sydney with high hopes, the pink test for the McGrath Foundation has become a feature of the summer and a fine way to end the summer test cricket period.
David Warner lit the game up right from the get go with a hundred in the first session of the opening day, and then new teammates Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb also posted tons as Australia declared at 8 for 538.
They looked set to finish day two strongly claiming two wickets early but Pakistan were able to fight back to 2 for 126 at stumps.
So everything was set up for a tense opening session to day 3, the day that also turns the SCG pink as the more formal part of the McGrath Foundation celebration.
Sadly Sydney weather didn’t get the memo and rain washed away to the first session.
However it is here that Test Cricket once again exposed one of its greatest weaknesses at a time when the game itself is fighting for relevance and reminded us of some of the issues we saw in Melbourne.
Having had no play in the morning the umpires called an early lunch, during which time conditions improved. So pitch inspections were conducted, conferences held on the ground and due notice of the resumption of play with 15 m minutes notice given to each team.
Of course by the time all that was done and the players gathered to restart play, you guessed it, rain began again even though it was in truth only light. Even here we have a rather strange treatment of the playing conditions.
Had the players been on the ground it is very unlikely in the light rain they would have been asked to leave the field, they would have played through. However because their on not on the field the rules dictate that the game can not start again in rain. So the umpires have no choice but to delay play for the rain to clear.
The problem here is that the game of test cricket refuses at times to move forward and holds strongly to some old rules and as a result leaves people paying good money to look at the covers on the pitch rather than a game of cricket.
You have to wonder, since their was no play in the morning why we even needed a lunch break? You can also ask given the players were warming up whilst the umpires conducted their pitch inspections, why 15 minutes notices needs to be given?
Surely in this day and age the players should be ready to go. We only have a 10 minutes break between innings so as a start that should be all the time given, though I think 5 minutes should be enough.
On the lunch break perhaps a minimum break of 20 minutes in these situations should exits, where after that 20 minutes if conditions have improved the umpires can give the notice to restart in no more than 10 minutes time.
At a time when far to many cricket grounds around the world only have a scattering of fans in the stands, test cricket needs to wake up and take steps to protect itself before it is lost to us and we are left with only the shorter forms of the game.
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