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Posts Tagged ‘test cricket’

India’s victory over Sri Lanka in Mumbai, and the series win that it has brought, has seen the hosts take over as the world’s top-ranked Test team, at least for the next few weeks.

It’s difficult to imagine India enjoying the dominance of Test cricket that the West Indies, and more recently Australia, have – partly because of how little Test cricket India play at the moment, and partly because of their mixed record away from home – but the masterplan seems to be working so far.

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Kim Hughes doesn’t think they should continue to play Tests, but does the Windies’ recent run of poor form (although not too long a run, they humiliated England less than a year ago) and apparent lack of appetite for five-day cricket undermine their long history of Test greatness?

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There’s been lots of discussion recently around Ireland’s application for full membership of the ICC (and for the Test status that goes with it). Gaining membership of cricket’s top table has always been a difficult barrier for associate nations to overcome, with the list of requirements including such items as a “sufficiently large pool of players to draw from capable ofp erforming at the highest level of the game” and the “standing of cricket in society”.

The main issue for Ireland seems to be the absence of a domestic competition at a sufficiently high standard, although the likelihood of regular defeats and of not being taken seriously by the cricketing world in general also loom large. Whether or not elevation to Test status would prevent the exodus of Ireland’s best players to play for England is also a moot point.

A two-tier Test championship, or some sort of limited qualification in the way that associate nations gain eligibility to play full ODIs at the moment, could be the way forward, but it’s likely that internal politics will be the deciding factor.

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What might turn out to be the future of Test cricket is taking shape with the news that Bangladesh and England are set to play a Day-Night Test– assuming that the ICC agrees.

The MCC’s World Cricket Committee is set to meet ICC representatives in November to discuss the idea, which could include the use of coloured balls and maybe even a change of clothing for the players.

With the longest form of the game seemingly under constant threat, ideas like this could be the way forward, but those involved will have to be careful that they don’t end up losing the ‘traditional’ elements of the Test format that make it such a unique spectacle. Ultimately, it will be the attitude that the ICC (and, realistically, the BCCI) takes to this development which will be crucial.

It’s also nice to see the MCC at the forefront of new developments, giving the lie to the organisation’s reputation for conservativism.

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The third day of the Fourth Test between India and Australia was an old-fashioned grind. The hosts reached stumps with an 86-run first innings lead, despite dogged resistance from the likes of Cameron White lower down the Australian order.

India’s defensive tactics have been criticised in the past, but the pressure that was exacted today seems to suggest that India won’t really care. This is, after all, Test cricket, not some newfangled Twenty20 shootout.

Now the stage is set for India’s batsmen to make some runs before the pitch deteriorates. Australia’s hopes of saving the series could fade rapidly if India get settled in.

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Finally, some proper cricket is taking place. Gambhir has stepped up a gear (as well as impersonating Alan Shearer) in front of his home crowd, Sachin made his umpteenth Test fifty, and no-one is upset about whether or not it’s appropriate for someone to sit on someone else’s lap.

Incidentally, Ricky Ponting still seems a little reluctant to toss the ball to his spinners (although the first day was never going to belong to Cameron White). The Australians may not be over their Mohali nightmare just yet.

That said, no-one ever got rich underestimating Australia’s cricketers.

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Sri Lanka’s tour of England has fallen victim to a combination of the IPL and the political machinations of the BCCI.

Does this signal a shift in priorities on the subcontinent? The death of Test cricket has been long heralded, and Twenty20 is certainly making the headlines at the moment with the Stanford Dash for Cash and talk of an ICL-IPL merger. Personally, I’d take the longer form of the game any day of the week, but it seems many in Sri Lanka (and of course India) disagree.

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The First Test between England and South Africa is unlikely to have made Allen Stanford re-evaluate his view of Test cricket. There was a lot of excitement at times, plenty of runs, and even 10 wickets taken in a day, but ultimately it petered out into that least American of results, a dull draw.

England’s bowlers will probably now be more than a little apprehensive, given the imminent return of His Fredness, although Collingwood should, in my view, also be sweating on his place.

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Test Cricket is in crisis. Dhoni is crying off from the Test series against Sri Lanka complaining of ‘tiredness’, which he’s presumably developed from playing 18 ODIs in the last 4 months, as well as a certain Twenty20 competition in India. Sri Lanka’s cricket board want to reschedule their tour of England as it clashes with next year’s IPL season. Even Ricky Ponting is worried.

What is the solution? It is not fiddling with the rules to make it ‘more exciting’. It is not playing an awful defensive shot and getting bowled out. The solution, perhaps, is a World Test Championship, perhaps with two tiers. Or maybe it’s a phenomenal series just around the corner – maybe, just maybe, even one that’s going on right now….

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The ECB has increased the win bonuses available to Test players to £2m, in what is likely to be seen as a response to the riches on offer in the IPL and now the Twenty20 Champions’ League.

With the potential for county players to make more from domestic Twenty20 than their Test counterparts do from the longer form of the game, the structure of international cricket faces upheaval. Certainly, developing a winning Twenty20 will become more attractive to county sides than developing players for England.

These are certainly interesting times for cricket.

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England’s under-pressure batsmen failed once again on the 1st day of , excepting Kevin Pietersen and Tim Ambrose, who made 115 and 67 respectively.

I think I’ve said more than enough about England’s top order for the time being, so I’ll leave it there. Ian O’Brien took 4-61 for the Black Caps, though, which is worth a mention.

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England have named an unchanged side for the 3rd Test against New Zealand, which seems to suggest that the selectors think all is well.

All is not well. Pointing to three victories over New Zealand (two of which, at Old Trafford and at Napier, came despite poor showings from the top order) is not sufficient justification for keeping clearly out-of-form players in the side. Let Bell and Collingwood play some county cricket to recover their form, and give someone else a chance.

After all, that’s how players get Test experience, isn’t it? Where would Pietersen or Sidebottom be if the selectors had been so concerned with ‘stability’ in 2005 or 2007?

Things are muddling along, as I feared they might, and soon there may be comeuppance (although probably not knife-based).

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