An idea has been floated that Tests could be shortened to four days. The reasoning seems to be that everyone’s much busier these days, so cricket has to respond.
Firstly, people are busy doing what, exactly? Busy wasting all the extra free time generated by all the millions of labour-saving devices they possess? Busy with work – a relatively modern invention? Busy with their family and friends, which have of course only become popular in the last decade or so? Busy in traffic maybe – we’ll give you that one.
People aren’t busy; they’re dicking about pretending they’re busy; making out that the mundane, pointless errands they’re running are of earth-shattering importance when they clearly – clearly – aren’t.
And if they are busy, why would a Test match having fewer but longer days be any more appealing to them? Is the problem that people often have four consecutive free days but not five? Are people unwilling to commit to that fifth day for some hard-to-discern reason?
If you’re going to shorten a game of cricket to suit these supposedly modern attention spans, do it properly. Make the game last a single day. Make it last 40 overs if you really want to go all in.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll need something different for all the people who aren’t satisfied with a match being done and dusted in a day. The longer this new format is, the better – because the duration and epic nature of the contest will be its unique selling points.
We actually have nothing against four-day Tests in any practical sense. We just don’t understand the reasoning. You wouldn’t make the Tour de France 20 stages instead of 21 in a bid to make it more popular. Is there a recognised phenomenon where the majority of people in the world only have a four-day attention span?