Former England captain David Gower feels that World Test Championship can revive the interest in the longest format among the fans if marketed in a proper manner with practical tweaks.
Gower along with former India wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer and former Pakistan captain Mushtaq Mohammad were participating in a “public conversation” held here on Friday on how to save Test cricket.
“There is already a move towards having World Test Championship (in 2019), which I think in the end is good. What the people want is great players doing great things. If you have good pitches, which produce good cricket, people will be interested,” Gower said.
“If Virat Kohli (given his extraordinary following) says Test cricket is important, then people will listen to him,” the former England captain added. Gower feels that market forces should come together to devise a strategy that will bring in more crowd at Test match venues across the globe.”You’ve got to go to market forces and if need be just open the gates. Because where is the money coming from? The money is coming from television.”
Engineer supported Gower, but with a caveat, saying, “Open the gates, yes of course. But with due respect, are TV going to pay that kind of money if England play suppose Nepal?”
Mushtaq agreed the cost needs to be factored in.”If you want Test cricket to survive, you have got to reduce the entrance fees.” He was not in favour of “freebies”, though. “Why not make it affordable?” he asked. Engineer cited: “Players don’t like to play in front of empty stands.”
All three were in favour of small tweaks in the longest format to make it more viewer-friendly. Engineer suggested: “A four-day Test match with each side batting 100 overs a day and the visiting captain having the choice to bat or field first.”
Mushtaq felt that first two innings could be restricted to 100 overs. “As an old-timer, I don’t want to see too much fiddling around with test cricket. You don’t want to disturb test cricket. Test cricket should be left alone. Test cricket is the mother of all cricket.”
He was willing to concede the first two innings of a Test could be restricted to 100 overs, but not the third and fourth innings. Gower is in favour of four-day Tests. “Keep the spirit of the game the same. It would be possible, just, to squeeze it (a Test match) into four days without compromising the absolute nature of the game as long as you don’t make too many artificial rules to go with it.”
All three were positive about Day/Night Test cricket.”Start a Test match late finish late at night,” was Mushtaq’s recipe. He went on to say: “In South Asia, we have the right kind of weather to introduce day-night (test) cricket.”