The former England captain, Kevin Pietersen, on Tuesday (June 12), threw his support behind Test cricket, saying the traditional form of the game can withstand the testing times if the format replicates the entertainment quotient of T20 cricket.
The advent of T20 cricket has drastically reduced the popularity of the longest format of the game.
T20 format’s time-saving and entertaining nature has taken the cricketing world by storm. Moreover, the rise of cash-rich franchise cricket has further deteriorated Test cricket’s fortunes. Such has been the impact of T20 cricket that even some players have given up on Test cricket to focus solely on the limited-overs cricket.
Not surprisingly, there are widespread apprehensions that Test cricket would suffer irreparable damage in the days to come.
However, Pietersen is confident the longest format of the game can survive the testing times if the right investment is done in Tests too.
Speaking at the 6th MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture, the 37-year old, who also became the first non-Indian cricketer to deliver the lecture, insisted on making the five-day format the pinnacle of cricket.
“If we wish cricketers to commit to five-day cricket we have to pay them. So how do we pay them? Simply by throwing the same commercial nouse and innovation at the Test game. Five days of action. They provide so many opportunities. Day night games have demonstrated the enormous leaps that are possible. The IPL doesn’t lay its biggest fixtures when many of its staunchest, wealthiest fans are at work. Neither should Test cricket,” Pietersen said.
He further added innovation is the need of the hour and urged administrators to help raise fan interest in the longest format.
“It will only be by pushing the marketing dial to a maximum that we will see if the Test game has true potential. Let’s make every game count. Push the profile of the world Test championship. Develop marketing opportunities. Offer cheaper seats in the ground to provide a better spectacle for TV viewers,” he said.
“We need to get them back through the turnstiles. It’s better for the players the sponsors and television. Let’s get the fans back! Let’s throw equal marketing clout behind the Test game before we succumb to the lazy assumption that 20-20 rules,” he added.
The ICC is also taking all possible measures for the betterment of Test cricket. The day-night Tests are seen by many as the way forward. Last year, it gave the green signal to South Africa to host Zimbabwe in a four-day Test.
The governing body has also introduced Test championship which will get underway in 2019.