Proteas vice-captain Dean Elgar spoke out strongly against plans for four-day Tests, saying it would be disrespectful to the highest form of the game and tantamount to making it a scapegoat for cricket’s other deficiencies.
Cricket South Africa announced last week that South Africa would play a four-day day/ night Test against Zimbabwe from Boxing Day in Port Elizabeth and the case for reducing Tests from five to four days will be put to the International Cricket Council (ICC) board at their meeting in Auckland next week.
But Elgar was adamant he is dead against the move.
“I’m a five-day specialist and Test cricket must stay that way, they mustn’t tinker with something that’s not broken. The other formats have been experimented with and now it looks like Test cricket will be the scapegoat. It should not be allowed to suffer.
“That’s the duration of the game and we should not start disrespecting it, and Test cricket should also only be played with the red ball. I know people will point to the size of the crowds, but that’s all about who you’re playing against, that’s what it boils down to. And you need the big names to attract people. “I believe Test cricket is the wrong format to interfere with, they should keep it as it is because it’s not broken,” Elgar, who has played 40 Tests and just six ODIs for South Africa, said.
Proteas captain Faf du Plessis agreed with Elgar, pointing out that the fifth day of the first Test against Bangladesh had been the day on which they were finally able to land the killer blows, having built up pressure for four days.
“Having four-day Tests would be tricky, I’m a fan of five-day Tests. The great Tests are the ones that finish in the last hour of the fifth day, that’s what makes the format so special. If there’s a fifth day, you have to really graft, the bowlers have a lot more work and the batsmen have to graft for longer.
“It’s been proved over and over again that day five is needed, but I guess four-day Tests might lead to more creative, aggressive captaincy. But Test cricket is about how long you can go for and how long your skill sets can last. There are also workload issues because there would be more overs in a day and more use of seamers. The players are all used to five-day Tests,” Du Plessis said.
It’s interesting that both Test matches that finished yesterday needed the fifth day for a result, despite minimal loss of time to the weather.
The match in Abu Dhabi was particularly dramatic as Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by just 21 runs as 16 wickets fell on the final day.
It is believed research showing 65% of Tests won in the last decade have ended on the fifth day will be presented to the ICC.