Why Test cricket can never die

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2 minute read

If you watched the final overs of England’s feat of escapology against South Africa, you already know why Test cricket can never die.

We’ve said it before and we’ll happily say it again. Test cricket can offer something that no other sport can. It offers more than any other form of cricket offers too. You can’t have a tense hour in a Twenty20 match because it’s more than a third of the match. You’ve barely set the scene.

In Test cricket, everyone’s got more vested in it. The players have been working their arses off for nearly five days and they want all that effort and all those emotions to come to something.

If you saw Dale Steyn’s celebration when he dismissed Kevin Pietersen on day four, that was quite something; that was a fast bowler on the verge of combustion, so full of adrenaline-fuelled power that he could have towed the continents back into place to reform Pangaea.

Miraculously, that wasn’t the most emotional wicket celebration in this match. Morne Morkel went one better when he dismissed Ian Bell. His wasn’t a celebration borne of a surfeit of bowling hostility, like Steyn’s. It was joy. Joy and maybe quite a bit of relief as well.

The effect was magnified by Morkel’s swarming team mates. This was emotion that you literally cannot buy. This wasn’t about winning a prize, because it was only the ninth wicket. It was about 11 men putting everything into a five-day cricket match and finally getting something to show for it.

A little later, Graham Onions survived the final ball of the match and 11 different men had something to show for putting everything into a five-day cricket match.

This is why we watch cricket. We watch it so that we can see two groups of people, who really give a shit, going at it with all their might.


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  1. am an Indian, I was following both Eng-SA test and Ind-Ban ODI on cricinfo yesterday. Guess which match I couldn’t care less about. You are right KC. I’d take a drawn test like this over all the ODI runfests we have had in India this season.

  2. Oh by the way KC, this is beautiful writing. This is now one of my all time favorite cricket blog posts – along with the one about the omelet of Tendulkar’s brilliance.

  3. Ta. We quite liked this one and we’re glad it hasn’t been wholly ignored due to the usual Friday indifference.

  4. Lovely article!

    There’s absolutely no questioning that Test cricket is supreme. It’s a pity that people are falling for the cheap thrills of T20 and the $$$ of IPL. I hope the T20 bubble bursts sometime soon, and we are in for more and more of exciting Test cricket — tense draws, glorious comebacks, penetrating spells, match-saving and match-winning hundreds.

    As you guys did write about it sometime back, you can’t play Test cricket with just the mow over cow corner 🙂

  5. A couple of exciting test matches and attitudes will start drifiting.

    This has been going on for a hundred years!

  6. There was a great image just after onions had survived the final over when it flicked back to the england dressing room. There was just this massive bundle of players were they had all been previously sitting all nervous looking it showed it really meant something.

  7. In some other article a day or so ago, you said you were looking for an argument. If that’s the case, you’d better stop writing articles that I agree with in totality. And stop writing it in such an impassioned way. You’ll get me sacked, with all the furious nodding and “Damn right”-ing I’ve had to do.

    Five days. Five days! More than thirty hours, 2700 deliveries! With all the divergence of possibilities and multiplication of outcomes that brings, and yet for it all to come back, for the third time in eight tests, to the very last final ball. Remarkable.

  8. Going into the last couple of overs yesterday I was consoling myself with thoughts such as:

    “Well, two out of three ain’t bad”.

    I’m now worried about the next time we got to the death. I just hope it’s not a series decider, our fortune/talent will run out eventually.

  9. and yet. suppose this had been India instead of England. what do you think people would rather see, a test like this or India scoring 10000/0 in a 20/20? I’m not optimistic about the answer.

  10. Test cricket is supreme — no question about that. There’s no other sport and no other form of cricket I’d rather watch. But defenders of test cricket sometimes get carried away with this sentiment (I don’t mean that you have in this post, KC, but in general).

    The fact that test cricket is the best form of the game doesn’t mean that T20 cricket has nothing to offer. T20 is entertaining, and that’s what watching sport is supposed to be, be it over an hour-and-a-half-long soccer (football) game, a 4-hour Wimbledon final, or a 5-day test match.

    ODI cricket on the other hand…

  11. Oh, my goodness! If England hold on to another draw, they will win the series. Beat SA in SA. If there is any justice in this world, they will have their asses kicked in the last test. Nothing personal, they are just not good enough to be called series winners.

    “Are SA, though?” you ask. But I am not listening.

  12. It’s been years since South Africa beat England in a Test series in South Africa.

    No, it has.

  13. Since Ponting can re-write history with his hindsight specs on, I see no reason why Strauss shouldn’t do the same. After the first test’s close finish, he realised that the key to the series was to win a test and have Onions bat out the last over in all the others for a draw. To accomplish this, he needed to keep the secret of how to get Onions out, er, secret. Hence his declaration nine wickets down in the second test. It was all part of the preparation for this match. Ponting-like genius.

  14. Onions has finished what Panesar started, eh, Bert? A worthy analysis, no doubt, but I, for one, cannot understand how England win test series. Australia was certainly the better team for the most part of the Ashes, and ended up on the losing side. We are seeing a similar picture emerge here. Credit to England, though, for having a guy who is a gritty enough to know how to draw a test (Collingwood, *not* Bell) – an oft neglected talent in world cricket these days.

  15. England won the Ashes because the Aussies were all out for less than 200 in three seperate tests. The whole series was a contest of who was poorest, which Australia shaded. This series is a bit different. England has genuinely played well for the most part, with a couple of weak periods of bowling that allowed SA to get big leads. I think we will win this series, possibly 2-0.

  16. I like all forms of cricket and I followed this test ball by ball. But I don’t have time to watch the game five days in a row. So from a watching point of view, ODI’s and T20 mean I can see a complete game. I guess that’s why the slum dogg massive in India like T20, they have 3 hours spare from making primark tops to watch a complete game..

  17. Being polite does not one an acolyte make. I disagree with His Maj many times and I suspect I’ve been quite rude at times but this post just hits the nail on the head. Until one has watched a nail biting draw like this the concept of such a thing being interesting, let alone one of the most amazing experiences in spectator sport cannot be fathomed.

    And I wanted the saffers to win…

  18. “..could have towed the continents back in place to reform Pangaea.” Winner of the metaphor of the year competition and its only January.

  19. Never correct people who feel moved to compliment us.

    Not unless they write ‘comprises of’ – that one drives us mental.

    Not sure how they’d fit that into a compliment though.

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