ICC to discuss four-day Test proposal in March despite growing criticism

ICC, four-day Test, Virat Kohli, BCCI, Sourav Ganguly, Ricky Ponting, Shoaib Akhtar, Anil Kumble, Nathan Lyon, World Test Championship
Kumble was the coach of the Indian team in 2016-17 when the Cricket Advisory Committee headed by Sachin Tendulkar, Laxman and Sourav Ganguly appointed him | File Photo: PTI

The International Cricket Council is set to hold discussions on the four-day Test proposal in March despite growing criticism from the world’s leading players including Australian great Ricky Ponting.

Former India captain Anil Kumble, who heads the cricket committee of the sports governing body, said the proposal will be discussed in the next round of the ICC meetings, to held in Dubai from March 27-31.

“Since I am part of the committee, I can’t tell what I am thinking about it (proposal) at the moment. We will discuss it in the meeting and let you know,” Kumble told PTI, adding that he is fine with past and current cricketers have expressed their views about four-day Tests.

The apex world cricket body last month to make four-day Tests mandatory from 2023 to free up the crowded calendar and introduce more global events.

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Also read: ICC likely to make four-day Test matches mandatory from 2023

Indian skipper Virat Kohli too opposed the proposal as he is not in favour of any alterations which hurts the sanctity of the traditional five-day format.

The likes of Andrew Strauss, Rahul Dravid, Mahela Jayawardene and Shaun Pollock are also on the cricket committee.

The proposal, which has been floated for the 2023-2031 cycle, has not gone down well with the greats of the game including Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, and Shoaib Akhtar.

However, member boards from England and Australia are open to the idea while BCCI boss Sourav Ganguly has said that “it is too early” to talk about it.

Ahead of the three-match T20 series opener against Sri Lanka in Guwahati last week, Kohli made his stance very clear on the subject.

“According to me, it should not be altered. As I said, the day-night is another step towards commercialising Test cricket and you know, creating excitement around it, but it cant be tinkered with too much,” he had said.

Also read: Won’t comment on CAA without full idea, oppose four-day Test: Kohli

“Then you are purely only talking about getting numbers, entertainment and you know. I think the intent will not be right then because then you will speak of three-day Tests. I mean where do you end. Then you will speak of Test cricket disappearing. So I don’t endorse that at all.”

Leading Australia spinner Nathan Lyon has termed the idea “ridiculous”.

More recently, Australian great Ponting expressed his disapproval of four-day Tests.

“I understand there is a commercial side to it, saving money and things like that and how they would start on a Thursday to finish on Sunday.

“Id like to hear the other reasons behind it. I don’t understand it enough and I’m very much a traditionalist, so if somethings not really badly broken then why do we need to fix it or change it?” Ponting was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.

Pakistan’s pace legend Shoaib Akhtar has rubbished the idea of making Test cricket a four-day affair, alleging that it is a conspiracy against Asian teams and the BCCI will not let it happen.

“Everywhere there is this conspiracy, a theory against Asian teams these days. I feel this (reduction of Test to four days) is totally against Asian teams,” Akhtar said in a video posted on his YouTube channel.

“I feel this idea is rubbish no one should be interested in it,” he added.

The 44-year-old said the ICC cannot implement the idea without the nod of the world’s richest cricket board, the BCCI.

Also read: England backs ICC plan for four-day Tests, BCCI non-committal

He said BCCI president Sourav Ganguly is a smart man and he will not let Test cricket get ruined.

“ICC cannot implement this rule without the permission of BCCI. BCCI along with all the smart cricketers are standing against this idea, especially spinners from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh who dominate and thrive in a series will not let this happen,” Akhtar said.

“Sourav Ganguly is a smart intelligent person. He will never want to see Test cricket getting damaged. He would want it to survive and see India excel in the format,” he said.

Among former players who want to see four-day Tests are Shane Warne, Mark Taylor and Michael Vaughan.

The ICC wants to try out four-day Tests primarily to free up space in the crowded calendar and use that time for the commercially lucrative shorter formats.

It is not a new phenomenon. England and Ireland played a four-day Test last year. South Africa and Zimbabwe too played one in 2017.

(With inputs from agencies)

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