Virat Kohli, Joe Root
Virat Kohli, Joe Root. Image Credits: Twitter

For years many people have looked down at the sport of cricket. Accusations galore of it being boring and days of play with the match still being drawn. Cricket has changed in recent years, but has it all been for the good?

In England, there’s just been the introduction of another form of the game. It’s called ‘The Hundred’ and the early stage of the competition saw English test players performing. This new 100-ball hit and hope competition has produced some good matches, but this isn’t really what cricket is all about.

It’s about two sides playing an extremely short version of the game but it’s barely different from any other one-day match. Aside from ‘sets’ having five balls and bowlers being able to deliver ten consecutive balls if they wish, it’s just another one-day game.

These matches bring in money though and that seems to be the most important factor at present. The pandemic has affected cricket finances around the world and will probably continue to do so for a while.

It’s not all about money though, there’s an ongoing debate about which is the best form of cricket. For this writer, it’ll always be test cricket and in England, the county championship. The Hundred and T20 tournaments do bring in the young fans and that’s good to see. They love the big hitting and music, but will they go to the longer versions of the game?

Test cricket is the best version there is of cricket. Two countries battling it out over five days (six in the recent World Test Match championship final to find out who are the best. Yes, games can go on for a long time but that’s the thrilling part of a test match.

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A test match can be so fascinating. Just as in a one-day match, every ball counts. Batsman will be more wary of losing their wicket and won’t be out to hit every ball for six. It’s a constant battle between the bowler and the batsman. There are no field restrictions in play, no such thing as a Powerplay or any time-outs.

With two innings for each side, the match will ebb and flow over its five days. A few wickets falling changes a game completely, can the batting side recover? A long partnership may ensue and the focus switches to the bowlers to see If they can get their team back into the match. That was the case in the first test between England and India. The four remaining tests look to be ones that will have fans of both countries excited.

Exciting finishes are possible too, even if it might take five days to get there. The atmosphere at a test match can be like that of a one-day game. Not that this writer remembers ever asking if it’d be ok to go a test match dressed as a superhero! Test match cricket has to survive, that has to be the key target in the coming years.