Who says Tests are supposed to last five days?

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We’ve always been of the opinion that a Test can last up to five days and that if all of that allotted time is required, things haven’t really panned out correctly.

Others see it differently. We often see comments of the oeuvre ‘a Test is supposed to last five days’ in criticism of turning pitches, such as that being used for the third Test between India and South Africa. It seems to be one of the fundamental philosophical differences defining how you view low scoring games.

India were bowled out for 215 in their first innings. Not a great score, but within the bounds of normality to our eyes. Maybe it’s a generational thing with younger cricketer followers accustomed to 560-5 declarations seeing such a total as freakishly abnormal.

This pitch is certainly doing a lot, but without wishing to unnecessarily retread ground, let’s wait and see how the match develops before drawing conclusions on its quality.

We will ask one question, however. Which online scorecard most commands your attention – the one where you’re waiting to see whether someone’s made their double hundred yet, or the one where a bunch of wickets is liable to have fallen?


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  1. Wickets are better than runs, everyone knows that.

    If the proposed changes to Division 2 tossing rules were to be applied to the Test arena, would it in fact mean more ‘Chief Executive’s pitches’ and fewer green-tops/raging turners/etc, or would it make little difference?

    I can’t see that a team with a world class spinner would be worried enough to prepare a pitch with no help for spin just in case the opposition’s part-timer takes 20 wickets. Whatever happens, I hope we don’t end up with every first-class or Test match being played on identikit pitches.

    1. When runs became easy to come by, cricket became boring. When wickets are too easy to come by it becomes boring. A test which is testing for both bat and ball is what I want to sit and watch. On average, games which end on the fourth or fifth day have been a fair test between bat and ball, and the better team has won.

      When a ‘Test’ does end in five days, or ends in under three days, it is less likely that it has been a fair test between bat and ball.

    2. when I watch on TV I prefer wickets to fall (or atleast threaten to fall)

      IF I am just following online however I dont mind 5-day test match as long as – on day 5 – all 4 possibilities remain possible and decisive result is most probable

      mind you, a Draw, is also a valid result in Test cricket, just like in (classical) Chess. and in Chess also there have been numerous attempts to do away with boring/easy draws without any “results” to show for that effort https://chess24.com/en/read/news/nakamura-wins-playoff-after-draw-controversy

      1. true draw has to be earned. but if pitch is designed to not produce a draw, does it then violate the spirit of Test cricket ?

      2. I’ve provided detailed, incisive comments on each one of these paragraphs:

        1. Me too, but not quite.
        2. Assholes, the lot of them.
        3. Within mine too. Assholes, the lot of them.
        4. Let’s.
        5. Tricky one. I’m going with the one that’s got tits.

    3. We’ve never had a response to every paragraph before (except on all those hundreds of occasions when we couldn’t be bothered writing more than one paragraph). We like it.

  2. “There will be no century, no enjoyment of the graft of an innings. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Wisden — always there will be the intoxication of pace and spin, constantly increasing and constantly turning subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of wickets, the sensation of trampling on an tailender who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a ball smashing into a batsmen’s stumps — forever.”

    1. Also in interest terms and quality of cricket terms. But they don’t go for five days, and therefore aren’t worth as much monetarily. Supposedly.

    1. Don’t judge till all 4 innings have been played and all that, but it does seem to be the sort of pitch where Mike Atherton would get some turn and bounce.

      1. Mike Atherton (early vintage) WOULD have got turn and bounce. Top (okay, mediocre) leg-spinner before his back seized.

    2. Some seriously brain fade shots from the Saffers (especially given the testing pitch). Only two or three got out to unplayable deliveries IMHO.

      Let’s see how many India score second time around. 200+ again, possibly?

      1. Looked to be on track for 200+ at 96/2 before they decided to play positively. They’ve probably done enough but a bit more sensible batting would have put the game completely out of SA’s reach.

      2. On the evidence of South Africa’s batting this series (AB excepted) this match has long since been out of their reach.

      3. That’s hardly an excuse for batting like idiots, Dhawan, Kohli, Rahane were all dismissed playing stupid shots. If SA batsmen weren’t scared of their own shadows, the test matches would have gone the same way as the T20 and ODI series.

  3. Well to be fair they are scheduled to last 4/5 days and often start in the middle of the week so as to have day 3/4 at the weekend, which most people buy tickets to. I think they can feel a little hard done by.

  4. 20 wickets in one day, 2 wickets down in the 4th innings. End of day 2. Even unreasonable green tops can’t produce that.

    Just saying.

  5. I think there’s a balance here. I would agree with Howe that any test coming to a result in 4 or 5 days is by definition a good pitch. A drawn match that would have been finished inside one extra day is also a good pitch. Any match that has clearly more than one extra day’s play in it is a waste of everyone’s time, rain delays excepted of course.

    On the other side, a match where neither side can bat for more than two sessions is too heavily tilted towards the bowlers. The occasional low scoring match is fine, but these should be exceptions. This is true also for very low innings scores, like… ooh, I don’t know, think of any number at random, um, 60 all out, just for the sake of argument. Entertaining as these can be, depending on who is batting, innings like these should also be rare as hens’ teeth.

    Of course, we all know what the perfect match is – roughly 400 for the first innings, roughly 300 for the second, roughly 200 for the third, and roughly 279 all out in 64.3 overs for the fourth.

  6. The pitch was shite, but not because of all the wickets that fell. SA in the first innings and India in the second had nobody to blame but themselves.

    Amla’s innings on the last day was indeed a masterclass in batting in these conditions, and a wonderful advertisement for longer test series that give batsmen time to adjust to the conditions. Pity it came when the cause was already lost.

    The real reason the pitch was terrible was because of the low bounce. Edges off the fast men didn’t carry, which was patently unfair to both Morkel and Ishant Sharma, who both bowled beautifully for little reward. And the low bounce make Jadeja look like a better bowler than Ashwin and Mishra. Spin is a lot more exciting when a wrist spinner or a flight bowler gets the wickets.

    Turn and bounce can be quite spectacular really, but turn without bounce is basically just a lottery.

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