Drawn Test matches are great because draws make Test wins better

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It’s not a complicated thing. When you win a Test match, you’ve conquered not just the opposition but also time. This makes Test wins a bigger deal.

It’s not enough to be better than the other team to win a Test match. You have to be better than them to a sufficient degree, and in certain specific ways, that you can beat them within five days – or an even shorter timespan if the skies aren’t clear throughout.

This is such a wonderful and crucial element of Test cricket: there’s one XI, there’s another XI and then there’s circumstances.

The idea that you could play a final and it might end up a draw is particularly delightful. All those qualification matches, five days of toil and then no winner and no loser? How amazingly, incredibly cricket.

No winner and no loser is not ‘no result’. The draw is the result. These teams were good, but neither was good enough – in these particular circumstances – to earn a win. Because a win requires more than merely being better than the other team.

We’d love to see a World Test Championship where there is almost never a winner because then, when we do occasionally get a winner… oh man, that becomes a much bigger deal, doesn’t it? That becomes an oh-so-rare; and therefore very, very big achievement indeed.

17 comments

    1. See if anyone can “draw” in this game. I suppose technically 7 billion people draw the match if there’s a comments thread that draws precisely zero replies but it must be a looooong time since KC – or earlier more colourful incarnation thereof – made a post which drew no comments whatsoever. (Restricting consideration to cricketing matters only, I fear the cycling sister-site may have had several posts that spake unto the void!)

      The comment-race is also a game where beating time is necessary since I believe comment threads time themselves out after a while. But it isn’t a game with the cut-and-thrust to-and-fro enjoyment of a Test match. Competitions where the identity of the winner becomes immediately obvious are inevitably rather dull. Provided some uncertainty persists throughout the match – and in cricket that uncertainty is often provided by the possibility of the draw rather than both sides being in with a chance of outright victory – then even quite long, one might say drawn-out, sporting contests can sustain interest.

  1. It’s five days since the last KC post that drew no comments.

    https://www.kingcricket.co.uk/a-1997-ridiculous-ashes-podcast-match-report/2021/06/16/

    KC should remove/disqualify any spoiler comments posted on the above-linked post after the posting of this comment.

    But I suppose some people think that five days is a looooong time. People of the type who say, “OMG, you play that stupid game of yours for five days and you still can end with a draw.”

    FYI, the WTC final is a six day test; there’s still enough time to get a result, weather permitting, Tuesday and Wednesday.

    1. Too late! But I did think that piece deserved a comment, albeit a higher calibre than what I stumped up in the end.

      I checked back on the old Blue & Brown site a while back and it seemed to have attracted a lot of spam, but currently it seems to be utterly devoid of comments, so presumably a Great Wipe has occurred. Shame, though I’d be more upset if the comments back-catalogue from the current site were to disappear! There have been some corkers on here.

      Is the WTC a six-day Test or was it five-day-plus-reserve-day-for-rain? I do seem to recall the closest thing to the WTC, the ICC Super Test between Australia and rest-of-the-world, was explicitly put down as six days even if it didn’t live up to its billing (in several respects).

      1. Corker comments don’t always appear directly on sites, of course.

        The Ogblog piece I published over the weekend generated such a superb additional memory/comment through Facebook that I sought and received the commentator’s permission to add a postscript to the piece:

        https://ianlouisharris.com/1981/06/20/visits-magical-memories-as-clear-as-mud-towards-the-end-of-summer-term-at-keele-9-to-20-june-1981/

        Trigger warning: that comment might conjure up a mental image you find hard to erase afterwards.

  2. No-one comments on our cycling site. They all just get the email.

    Speaking of which, the Tour de France starts on Saturday and you can now get a ‘Tour only’ version of the email if that’s all you’re interested in. You can sign up here.

    We’ve settled on doing weekly recaps as the best way of covering the race.

  3. If the WTC Final ends in a draw, I have no problem with both being declared the winners. But I’d have a additional ‘outright winners’ category for teams that manage to win the final.

    So, in fifty years from now, you could have India as five time winners (three outright), or England four time winners (zero outright), and so on.

  4. I agree with this. I also think the timing is off.

    The draw in men’s Test cricket is a marvellous thing. The fight for the draw is one of the greatest aspects of any sport: scraping there, nine down, against the odds… It’s glorious. Meanwhile the fact that a win requires you not just to bat better, but bowl well enough to get the opposition out, does indeed make it feel worth more than the equivalent in other sports.

    This is not the case when you add rain into the equation, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s outside everyone’s control. I do not find a woefully inadequate opposition being saved by rain or bad light rewarding, even when it’s my own team (apart from in 2005, obviously), because the opposition didn’t earn that. Secondly, just like limited overs cricket tries to manufacture the glory of the Test chase and in doing so loses it, so bad weather manufactures the glory of holding on for the draw by shortening the match. So publishing this when the dominant factor in the most recent two Test draws (assuming the WTC final goes that way) will have been rain doesn’t sit right with me.

    Then there’s women’s Tests, which happen so rarely and draw so often that the draw doesn’t feel like a marvellous thing, and any weather-related draw feels even more unjust.

    1. The weather-assisted draw is of course the least-satisfying result in its own right. Our point is that even taking that into account, they still enhance subsequent wins by making them rarer.

      It’s certainly not something to strive for, but that’s still how it works.

      1. But doesn’t the fact that a win was only allowed for by the random whims of the Weather Gods detract from wins being special in a similar manner?

      2. No, because good weather doesn’t make Test wins easier to come by. It’s merely the absence of an additional hurdle.

      3. Hmm. I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. Anything less frequent will be more valuable for its rarity, but that has to be weighed against the value of the losses. I personally don’t think the rain-afflicted draw raises the value of the overall experience through making wins rarer more than it lowers the value through happening.

      4. “Only the second outright Test champion in the 32 years since the competition began.”*

        *Disclaimer: Highly unlikely the World Test Championship lasts that long.

  5. I’m just surprised the 5 day game was the genesis format. Given all this rain, 20-20 should’ve been been the first invention.

    1. Well, there was no day limit to begin with, and there was also no covering of pitches, which made them a lot more difficult to bat on, so draws were less of an issue.

  6. I went to see the final day of a drawn test match and it was the single greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

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