Chennai: Former England captain David Gower suggested reducing the Test matches to four days, limiting the first innings to certain time and keep the pace of the game up to make Test cricket more interesting.(All the Latest Cricket Updates)
“Probably we need to do something to reinvent Test cricket to make it more appealing,” said Gower, who delivered oration lecture on the occasion of Jolly Rovers Cricket Club, an affiliate of the TNCA, which celebrated its 50 years of existence on Saturday.
“One of the things that you need first of all is to use Dhoni or Virat Kholi, who are playing the game presently for India to say to the country that Test cricket is important. If Dhoni says it is important, then the country will agreed to board,” he said.
“The attraction is that you are getting the T-20 matches telecast from Australia and South Africa. If a 10-year-old who is watching says that that is what I want to do, then you need to set it higher. My generation of players say that Test cricket is important. Sunil Gavaskar was a brilliant player and he says it is important. But all these were 30 or 40 years ago,” he said.
Gower explained in detail that there are possibilities to make Test cricket more interesting.
“There are chances to bring people to watch test cricket when they might feel that they could do something else, you put in rules that suggest to reduce the Test matches to four days instead of five, limiting the first innings to certain time, keep the pace of the game up,” he said.
In an interaction with Aakash Chopra, Gower talked about finding parity to help encourage everybody to play Test cricket by the respective countries.
Gower said, “There are politics in dropping players from the one day team. It is extraordinary act of hampering one’s ability to win games. The money element is involved in the game. For example, Lasith Malinga plays lot of one dayers than Test cricket because of strain on the body. An enormous load of work is done by these people. Therefore, I suppose they equalise remuneration. There has been a lot of talks during the last two years about the heist. It is about re-bouncing the finance of cricket.”
On unity amongst the players and the need for the change, he said, “It is actually the West Indies is expensive to play cricket and the cost of hosting Test cricket in the West Indies is ridiculous. There is no unity amongst the players but Clive Lloyds was able to manage keeping them together.
“So, West Indies needs money and South Africa is in the danger of getting to be a poor country. Therefore the finances are to be rebounced. ICC is in a dangerous territory. It is a club in a cloud. It does not have influence enough to necessarily effect change.”
He said, “It is a financial reality. A player would always think as to how he could maximise his earnings. So, he plays 6 weeks in IPL, 4 weeks in Caribbean league and in Big Bash and then he is getting these.
Asked whether there is a decline in the skills and abilities and the modern day cricket is not equipped to handle different conditions as South Africa lost when they toured India and India has not been performing well in Australia, Gower said, “part of that come from the crowded schedule, which is reflecting in their performances.”
“No tour by any country is no more than one or two games as preparation but in the past it used to be three four games before you start a four months tour to a country. Every series now is basically making your fingers crossed. In the past we gained confidence to take pressure as we played four games.
“I think now there is little time to gain the confidence as they play one dayers followed by T-20 and then Test matches. The main thing is that I am not quite sure whether I am in form or not,” he said.
He summed up saying, “I think the schedules are lot to answer. The fact that the sides go to a, b, c, very quickly means that you always do not have time to worry about result whether you win or lose because there is another series any moment now. Then you go to home conditions and win matches.”
On DRS to be implemented in the upcoming IPL tournament, he said, “I think DRS is a good thing because ICC suggests that there is improvement in correct decisions coming in now across international cricket as a whole. Crucial decisions make difference to a game. It is fascinating as to how good umpires are in general terms anyway. DRS is not 100 per cent but they are working on it.”
“Also, in the history of 138 years of cricket the umpires have never been wrong. If the umpire thinking the other way, he goes little far away to the third umpire sitting over 150 yards away before a computer and he says that the computer says you are wrong. So, you need umpires on the field.”
On the spot fixing issues and educating the younger generation of players, Gower said, “Let us be truthful. Even with the highest standards of behaviour around the world, every society has crime. We all think we know the rights and wrongs and we bring up children to understand right and wrong. But, temptations most often come from circumstances which are unique.
“Every case is potentially different. From school team to international team, someone needs to tell you what not to do. In UK County, players are given a talk every year on this aspect telling them to report back if anyone comes to you or anything suspicious. Therefore, the penalties have got to be severe on those who are caught.”
He referred to similar problems in tennis which was exposed before the Australian Open and said, “there are great personalities in tennis like (Novak) Djokovic and Roger Federer, who have set highest standards of performances and great spokesmen of tennis. To me if Roger is ever accused of doing something illicit the world will step on facts.”