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The beauty of Test Match Cricket


Test cricket is fast losing its popularity among a large section of the population. Yet the beauty of the format hasn't been completely lost yet. The aggression of the bowlers, the possibility of comebacks and the possibility of exciting finishes make it probably the most beautiful format. Read on to now more.

In one of my earliest articles I must have given quite a few indications that test cricket is the most enjoyable format for me. The format is probably the most unsuitable for the fast-moving modern age. Yet the beauty of test cricket is unique. Other formats promise high-voltage entertainment for sure, but the comparison between a T20 match and a test match is often similar to the comparison between a Rohit Shetty movie and a Govind Nihalani movie (congrats to the handful who got the reference). The latter one on the surface might seem exceptionally boring, but once you get beneath all that there is a wealth of treasure waiting for you.

If winter comes can spring be far behind?

Test cricket is somewhat of a reflection of life itself. This sport conceived way back in the nineteenth century, somehow ends up giving the message that comebacks are always possible. Whoever was fortunate enough to watch the Kolkata test of 2001 between India and Australia knows exactly what I am talking about. You can be down and out one day and then bounce back to claim a victory and script your name in the annals of history. Or even the recent Headingly test between Australia and England that forced the world to sit up and take notice of this seemingly outdated sport. Somehow one way or the other, test cricket ends up giving the valuable lesson that when the tide is against us, we just need to hold on and persevere. Sooner or later the tides will change.

Or take the case of individual players. Tim Paine was ready to take a desk job before being given a chance to come back to the team and lead it through its darkest hours. Or Steve Smith who after his comeback from disgrace has had the series that most players simply dream about. As I write this article another comeback is in progress as Rohit Sharma, the man whom few had given a chance at the test level has just scored a brilliant century. These are always inspirational moments not just for the bench warmer in the local cricket team but for anyone in general.

Test cricket does have its dull moments, I can't deny that fact. There are flat pitches as there sometimes will be. The worst kind is where the bowler gets no assistance and the batsman is unable to score quickly either. Then in the drought of runs and wickets, only those who persevere get the rewards. This was amply brought out about six years ago by Dale Steyn when India toured that country. Steyn had his driest spell in what seemed to last a lifetime in the first match. Yet in the second match, he took nine wickets and helped South Africa take the series.

Where test matches score over the other formats

These cases of comebacks are probably not very uncommon in ODIs and to a lesser extent in T20s as well. But there is one aspect where these formats cannot compare with test matches. This is the aggression of the bowlers. By aggression, I do not mean the verbal abuse that some bowlers will unleash at the batsman as a way of releasing bottled-up frustration. Far from it. The aggression I am referring to is the psychological attack that the bowler inflicts on the batsmen. This is manifested through the field placements, through body language that is inaudible yet so expressive and even through the lengths that the bowlers bowl. Granted these things go invisible when you have a flat pitch but in the majority of the cases test matches turn out to be such a paradise for bowlers when compared to one-dayers and T20s. A Star Sports ad summed it up beautifully a couple of years ago when they said that in a test match, 'even an edge that goes for four is applauded by the skipper'. In fact, in most cases, even a full delivery that is driven for four is often applauded.

Most people would prefer seeing 450 runs in an innings be it in an ODI or a test match. But for some strange reason that I haven't been able to identify yet, I always feel for the bowlers when they have to go through that sort of a grind. The best test matches are those when there is a balance between the bat and the ball. In test matches, you will always find that.

A variety of situations

But perhaps the strongest reason why I prefer watching test matches over other formats is because of the various situations that are possible in a test match. Imagine South Africa batting to save the match in Adelaide in 2012. Then think about the fourth innings of Pakistan versus Sri Lanka match in Sharjah in 2014 when a 300-plus target was chased down in two sessions. The contrast between the two is striking. Yet such things do happen and they happen quite often in this strange and beautiful format.


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Comments

Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao12 Oct 2019 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 5

A very good article on test match cricket. Initially, only five-day cricket matches were there. Later on to suit the game to the fast world oneday and T20 were introduced.

The real capability of the player will be known in test matches only. A bowler will have enough scope to show his talent and a batsman will have sufficient time to show his technique. In limited over matches the bowler will be in a hurry to get wickets and the batsman will be in a hurry to get runs. They will not get sufficient space to show their talent.

But these are the fast days and everything is to be completed within no time. So a spectator will not have time to go and sit continuously for 5 days and watch the match either in the stadium or on the TV. As such the income may be less for that game. But for one-day matches and T 20 matches, there is no necessity of waiting for the results for 5 days. So the craze for these games increased rather than 5-day match.

The game will live if 5-day matches are given importance and in that direction, actions are being initiated and world cup for test matches has started. Let us hope we will see good 5-day matches in the coming days.



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