The iconic Sachin Tendulkar has vehemently opposed the International Cricket Council’s proposed “four-day Test”, urging the governing body to refrain from “tinkering” with a format in which the spinners come into play on the final day.
The ICC wants to change the 143-year old five-day format to four days with more emphasis on limited-overs cricket for the next cycle but it has met with stiff resistance across the globe from leading stars including Virat Kohli, Ricky Ponting, Justin Langer and Nathan Lyon to name a few.
“From a purist’s point of view and being an admirer of Test cricket, I don’t think it should be tinkered with. The format has to be played in the way it has been played for so many years,” Tendulkar told PTI in an exclusive interview.
A day less, according to the world’s highest run-getter across two formats, will lead to batsmen thinking of Tests as an extended version of limited-overs cricket.
“The batsmen will start thinking that it is a longer version of limited-overs match because the moment you bat till the second-day lunch, you know that there’s only two and half days to go. That changes the thinking and dynamics of the game,” said the only man to have played 200 international games in the longest format.
The other worrying aspect could be spinners being rendered ineffective with a day less in hand.
“Taking away the fifth-day track from a spinner is like taking away the first-day track from a fast bowler. There is no fast bowler in the world who wouldn’t want to bowl on a fifth-day track.
“On the final session of a fifth day, any spinner would like to bowl. The ball doesn’t turn from the first day or the first session. The wicket takes time for wear and tear. The fifth day brings with it, turn, bounce and the unevenness of the surface. It doesn’t happen on the first two days,” he explained.
Tendulkar fully understands that there’s a commercial aspect and audience interest attached to the game but he wants one format to remain the true Test of batsmanship.
“We first need to understand why do they want it and what are the reasons for that. That’s one side of it and obviously it’s got to do with the commercial side as well,” he said.
“Audience-friendly, yes, it is important. But for that, from Tests, we have moved to ODIs and T20s and now we even have T10s. So there should be something for the purists and that’s Test cricket,” the maestro added.
“The batsmen, are they being Tested in Test cricket? At least, there should be one format that should challenge the batsmen and that’s why it’s called Test cricket because it’s not over in two sessions. You need to bat for long hours on difficult surfaces at times.”
Tendulkar has time and again stressed on the need to have good Test match wickets.
“For good Test matches, you need good wickets. If the Test match pitches have quality, the game will not get boring. There are tracks where even the bowler feels that he can’t get the batsman out on this surface.
“They then think let’s bowl maiden overs and wait for the batsmen to make mistakes. Batsmen also know that if I don’t play a foolish shot, no one can get me out.”
And Tendulkar feels therein comes the shorter version which excites audiences.
“In shorter versions, spectators have got used to action on every ball in T20s and almost every over in ODIs. Then they come to a format where it might not be as exciting.
“So, we have to have pitches where it should seem something can happen anytime which can make people come to the stadium or remain glued to the TV sets.