Australian cricket legend Mark Taylor has urged the game to embrace a four-day Test format to protect the future of the longest form.
Last week, Australia clinched the third Test against India by nine wickets after poor showings in Nagpur and Delhi.
Asked about the aggressive style many countries – led by England – are now adopting and whether this should influence the duration of Test matches, Taylor argued the format should be shortened.
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“I think cricket should move with the times and bring in four-day Test matches. I think it just works better,” he told Nine’s Sports Sunday.
“Players like to have three days off between games, so four-day Test matches work. You play something like Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, or Friday to Monday, then three days off and then you can do it all again.
“So, I think it works well and it also puts the onus on skippers to be a little bit more adventurous at times.
“Loose a bit of time, get a really flat pitch – well declare earlier. We don’t need to see 500 runs scored every innings. The best games of cricket have always been where a side makes about 350 and the second side does the same and then you’ve got a really good contest.
“Four hundred, 500 plus the total, generally, very rarely leads to a good game of cricket.”
Quizzed if a change in duration would mark the beginning of the end of Test cricket, Taylor acknowledged that the demise of the longer format was already in motion.
“South Africa has already requested less Test cricket for the future which is a really bad sign. So, I think the only way to keep Test cricket is to make it more interesting, make it more playable, fit it in the schedule more – which is now becoming more and more cramped all the time,” he said.
“Four-day Test matches I think will help that.”
Following the conclusion of the third Test, the ICC rated the wicket in Indore as “poor” – an assessment which Taylor agreed with.
“It was very poor. I think that was a very kind conclusion drawn by the ICC,” he said.
“When you go to India you expect to play on low, slow turning pitches – that’s been the case for as long as I’ve known the game of cricket and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s the way you expect to play in India.
“But you don’t expect the ball to go through the surface of the pitch on day one and that’s what happened.
“There’s a lot of talk in India about, ‘What about the Gabba this year in Australia?’. That was also a poor pitch because the groundsmen in Australia left too much grass on it and it also got a poor rating [by the ICC].”
Taylor advised teams to concentrate solely on playing the game and leave the preparation of the wicket to the curators.
“You want the groundsmen to just prepare the best pitch they think is going to give the right balance between bat and ball and let the players do the playing after that,” he said.
“I don’t like hearing from players or captains or support staff, saying, ‘We want a certain pitch’. I like to see the groundsmen just being told to get out there with the conditions you’ve got, and put out the best pitch which is going to give a good balance between bat and ball.
“That’s what should happen and it doesn’t always happen.”
Indian captain Rohit Sharma has reportedly requested that the fourth and final Test in Ahmedabad be played on a green top to favour the fast bowlers.
“The only reason they are saying that now is because Australia having won that third Test match, they’ve now qualified for the World Test Championship (final) which will be at Lords early June, and more likely they will play India,” Taylor said.
“So India has got their sights set on that game, so now they don’t want low, slow pitches in India anymore because they want to get ready to play Australia at Lords.
“Test matches shouldn’t be lead-up games to the World Test Championship, they should be Test matches.
“If I was groundsmen at Ahmedabad I’d say to whoever is asking – I don’t really know [who is behind it] -‘You just play cricket, I’ll prepare the pitch’. End of story.”
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