The old timers were not facing tight playing schedule and felt that there is no need of restricting it to four day test matches. But present day set of players feel the pinch and they are being rested for less important series to provide them rest and recuperation. It provides players to recover from injuries as well.
Four days versus five is a false debate. The spinner will be denied a fifth-day wicket which seems like part a conspiracy to drive him out of the game. That alone should ensure the proposal is thrown out of the window when the ICC’s Cricket Committee sits down to discuss it. In any case, bilateral Tests can be played over four days, as South Africa have done against Zimbabwe, or England against Ireland. It would be interesting to see if England and Australia play an Ashes Test over four days. Test cricket is a peculiar sport, and its charm lies in its peculiarity. Part of this lies in its duration, in the fact that teams take break for tea, and in the manner it is a series of individual contests within the framework of an overall contest. No other team sport has such sustained individual competition within itself.
From a purist’s point of view and being an admirer of Test cricket, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar thought it should not be tinkered with. The format has to be played in the way it has been played for so many years in the conventional form. 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.
Many Tests end on the fourth day because there is a fifth day available. This is not as mystifying as it sounds. The extra day calls for changes in the approach. The fifth day’s 90 overs is not merely mathematical, it is psychological. The richness of the game reveals itself, as does the character of the players. The last hour 15 overs were the most interesting those days and play used to commence 30 minutes early to provide sufficient time to bowl mandatory overs in the fading light. Now with 90 overs permitted in a day, the question of mandatory overs does not arise. Holding on to a five days format is the best option. This might be a romantic view, but what is sport without romance? Interestingly, players are in favour of five days. And fans have no complaints. There lies the answer in affirmative.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)