The International Cricket Council (ICC) could make four-day Tests mandatory from 2023 as part of the World Test Championship, primarily to free up the crowded calendar.
The ICC’s cricket committee will formally consider trimming Tests to four days from five for the 2023-2031 cycle.
ICC wanting to stage more global events, the BCCI’s demands for an expanded bilateral calendar, proliferation of T20 leagues around the world and cost of hosting a five-day game are some of the factors contributing to the need for a four-day game, reported ESPNcricinfo.
If four-day Tests were held during the 2015-2023 cycle, it would have freed up 335 days of scheduled cricket.
A four-day Test is not a new concept with the last one played between England and Ireland earlier this year. South Africa and Zimbabwe too played one in 2017.
It is an issue that is likely to attract a contrasting view from the game’s stakeholders. Cricket Australia chief Kevin Roberts feels four-day Tests should be definitely considered.
“It is something that we have got to seriously consider this week. It is something that can’t be driven by emotion, but it needs to be driven by fact. We need to look at what’s the average length of Test matches over the past five-ten years in terms of time and overs,” Roberts told SEN Radio.
“We need to look at it very carefully and perhaps it is more likely than not in the mid-term future. What we absolutely will do is that over the next 12 to 18 months, is make sure the cricket calendar is nailed down for the years 2023 to 2031.
“What we are committed to doing is working with all the ICC members – nobody is saying it is easy but what we are doing is looking at it holistically and we are committed to doing that.”
However, Australian captain Tim Paine was not enthused by the idea following his team’s 247-run win over New Zealand in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.
“We might not have got a result if we’d done that in the Ashes, I think every game went to a fifth day,” said Paine.
“That’s the point of difference with Test cricket, it is five days, it’s harder mentally, it’s harder physically, and it tests players more than the four-day first-class fixtures do. I think that’s what it’s designed to do, so I hope it stays that way.”