Cricket world awaits the death of the test

T20 has been hugely successful for cricket, but it’s come at a cost.


The end of test cricket seems inevitable. Photo: lutmans (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Test cricket has been considered the pinnacle of the game of cricket for as long as the sport has been around.

Since twenty-twenty cricket (T20) was introduced to domestic and international audiences test cricket has been on the decline, for a multitude of reasons.

The inclusion of T20 cricket at domestic and international level has done wonders for the game.

T20 has grown the game at a fast rate as it’s very popular for families with younger kids.

Just this year the Big Bash league pulled in 612,000 viewers for the Melbourne Stars vs Brisbane Heat game on the opening night of the Australian Open, which only had 493,000 viewers.

The Australian Open was previously deemed “untouchable” in the TV ratings according to Channel 7.

While T20 has been hugely successful for cricket, it’s seemingly come at a cost in the demise of the once invincible form of the game – test cricket.

TV viewership remains strong for test cricket, but there are major concerns about the standard of the game, with only three major competitive test cricketing nations (Australia, India and England).

A major reason for this lies in smaller cricketing countries such as South Africa and the West Indies, who can’t keep up with the money cricketers are being offered at a domestic level.

According to Tom Moffat, Chief Executive for the Federation of International Cricket Council, players will understandably prioritise financial security.

A prime example of a country failing to get cricketers to play test matches instead of T20 is the West Indies.

From the late 1970’s to the mid 1990’s the West Indies were widely regarded as the best test team in the world.

After the Kerry Packer revolution in the late 1970’s, which allowed the players’ wages to increase, the West Indies struggled be able to pay their cricketers what other countries’ players were being paid.

As test cricket player wages continued to increase, the West Indies fell behind in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

So, when the India Premier League (IPL) was created in 2008 and clubs were offering more than $1 million in pay for six weeks, the West Indies’ young talent focused on T20 and their test cricket suffered as a result.

The West Indies aren’t the only test team to suffer due to the money on offer in T20.

It has gotten so bad for most test cricket nations that cricket legend Kevin Pietersen believes that there will only be Australia, England and India playing test cricket by 2026.

It is not hard to see why a lot of test cricketing nations are struggling with keeping up with the financial beast that is T20 and in particular the IPL.

They include 23 year old Cameron Green, who has a lot of potential but is yet to fully reach the peak of his playing career, and who will play in this year’s IPL earning $3.15 million.

With this type of money been thrown around for six week tournaments, it’s easy to see why players focus on playing T20 over test matches.

There has been many suggestions for how to save test cricket.

Kerry O’Keeffe, a former Australian test cricketer and now a respected commentator, has suggested making test matches go for four days with a maximum of 100 overs for each innings.

The idea behind O’Keefe’s idea is to keep the kids more entertained at test matches.

The prevailing view is that younger generations don’t have the patience for test cricket anymore, and more often than not prefer things at a faster pace.

It will be a very sad day for cricket when test matches die, as they’re considered the purest form of the sport.

But at the way things are going, the end of test cricket seems inevitable.