The International Cricket Council (ICC) is set to officially grant the four-day match between South Africa and Zimbabwe on Boxing Day Test status, albeit on a trial basis.
By SportBrief Reporter
Cricket South Africa have placed a request that the experimental day-night fixture in Port Elizabeth be considered a Test, with the matter set to be deliberated upon at the ICC board meeting in Auckland in October.
In an age where the Twenty20 format of cricket has gained worldwide appeal resulting in it overshadowing the longest format of the game, four-day Tests are being seen as one of the solutions to make the format more attractive to the current generation.
The four-day test format which sees teams play both in the day and at night, has been growing in popularity as of late although it is not yet formally recognized by the International Cricket Council (ICC) Committee.
The ICC’s Cricket Committee has been rather skeptical about reducing the length of Tests from five days to four with the 2015 Committee, chaired by former India captain, Anil Kumble, having opposed the idea of four-day Tests.
However, the ICC Chief Executives’ Committee (CEC) and the top brass of the ICC management, had voiced support for four-day Tests, making the final decision of the format a tight contest.
Consequently, in June this year, the Cricket Committee delivered a somewhat mixed opinion on the matter by stating that it was not against experimenting with four-day Test cricket, but without putting any form of commitment to the cause.
According to people involved in the discussions, the support for four-day Test cricket was growing, though there was “considerable reluctance from traditionalists”.
The four-day tests are more favorable to the game’s administrators because they helps ease their biggest problem: scheduling.
With domestic Twenty20 leagues taking up a large part of the calendar, boards have been struggling to find enough time for full international tours.
Earlier this week, Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India, after months of deliberation, agreed to reduce the Test series from four to three matches and play an extra — sixth — one-day international on India’s tour to South Africa in January.
Haroon Lorgat, CSA’s chief executive officer, is a firm supporter of four-day Tests, especially as a way to induct Ireland and Afghanistan into the fold.
“We recognise that there is a place for higher-ranked teams to play the lower ranked teams, or even the lower-ranked teams among themselves, in four-day Test match cricket,” Lorgat told ESPNcricinfo.
“I hope that apart from being a trial, we could have it as a permanent arrangement.”
It is understood that administrators are trying to work towards a resolution that would allow full members to decide between themselves whether a Test should be four or five days.
Administrators like Lorgat and England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Tom Harrison feel there is a need for the cricketing fraternity to adapt to the changing demands of the consumer.