Dravid calls for a rethink to boost Test and domestic cricket

At an ESPNcricinfo For Cricket 20-year anniversary event held at the Oval ahead of the Fifth Ashes Test, Rahul Dravid delivered a speech entitled ‘Why T20 needs Test cricket’. He made a stout defence of Test cricket and the domestic game around the world.

Rahul Dravid, the former captain of the Indian...

Rahul Dravid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He said: “We are living in an age of short attention spans, instant gratification and the expectation that we will get all the answers to all the questions in 140 characters”, and suggested that for T20 cricket to survive there needs to be a strong Test match game.

While admitting that Test cricket was at somewhat of a crossroads in the modern era he said that T20, “is the form of the game the Twitter generation, and those even younger, naturally gravitate towards. I can see it my house - when my 8-year-old enjoys IPL, as opposed to the stuff in white clothes that his Dad made such a big deal of. It is very easy to get carried away by the bright lights of T20 and its ringing cash registers.”

He suggested the increase of T20 has the danger of cluttering schedules with the fall guy Test cricket with series reduced in matches. He added that international T20 fixtures were, “A nothingness of a nothing.”

He argued that the cricketing world that extolled the virtues of Test cricket should act accordingly as: “The less Test cricket is played, the greater the gap in its standards as we are now beginning to witness around the world. It is almost as if there are two divisions of Test-playing nations these days.”

Rahul Dravid

Rahul Dravid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a defence of Test cricket delivered as impeccably as one of his own straight bat shots he continued: “Test cricket, an older, larger entity is the trunk of a tree and the shorter game - be it T20 or ODIs - are its branches, its offshoots. The trunk, though, is the old, massive, larger thing, which took a very long time to reach height and bulk.”

“The trunk, though, is the old, massive, larger thing, which took a very long time to reach height and bulk,” he continued. “But it is actually a life source: chip away at the trunk or cut it down and the branches will fall off, the fruit will dry up. Again, this is not merely a fanciful, horticultural idea.”

“The richness and range of a Test cricketer’s skill can be translated effectively into T20 because of the base on which his entire game is constructed. The rigours of Tests and even first-class cricket is what makes the great players great, their most common quality being, not technique, but adaptability. Over conditions, over formats.

“It is no coincidence that Mike Hussey is one of the most successful T20 batsmen in the IPL or that Jacques Kallis is sought after everywhere. I can only imagine what Viv Richards would have done to T20 attacks. This is not to say that T20 cricket has no distinctive skills of its own; it has added creativity to bowling and improvisation to shot-making to a degree never seen before in cricket history,” he continued.

“But the basics required to execute these new skills are critical and it is Test cricket that builds those basics. The fundamental core of every cricketer’s game is enriched by playing four- and five-day cricket. T20 needs Test cricket to retain its diversity and depth of skill, which is one of the game’s most attractive features.”

Dravid’s recommendations included:

  • cricket must “find a way to keep each of the three forms of the game viable and relevant.”
  • make first-class and Test cricket more lucrative to players
  • play day-night Test cricket
  • sort an international schedule so “teams can complete their home and away cycles against each other over a four-year period.”
  • “Introduce a certain sanctity and regularity in the cricket calendar, in order to create a series of showpiece Test series that have a sense of occasion. To become cricket’s majors, so to speak, that are waited for every few years.”
  • Introduce the Test championship
  • Retain the Champions Trophy.
  • Strengthen minor Test nations, eg. Bangladesh playing as a team in India’s first-class fixture list, Zimbabwe in South Africa, West Indies in England and New Zealand playing in Australia.

James Buttler

James has been working as a journalist and broadcaster in cricket since 2006 and was an avid fan for many years before that.
As the editor of World Cricket Badger he is intent on building the website to give quality coverage of the domestic game around the world.
He is also the presenter of the Cricket Badger Radio Show on Radio Yorkshire every Tuesday evening between 7-9pm UK time.
James was the full-time Media Manager at Yorkshire County Cricket Club between 2007 and 2010.
James is a published author, a writer/video contributor to many cricket publications and a complete cricket badger!

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