Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Test Cricket Moral Police Force have got their facts wrong!

Vic Marks, Stephen Brenkley, Martin Johnson amongst others have criticized the lifeless pitches on offer in the Carribean where West Indies hold on to a 1-0 lead. After WI won the first, the second abandoned, the last 3 matches have seen pitches where the batsmen can play blind-folded Cricket. The complaints of these gentlemen above don't talk of disparity between bat & ball. These gentlemen talk about the imminent passing away of the great game called Test Cricket. Everytime there is a dull lifeless draw, critics pounce and declare Test Cricket dead.

Unfortunately, these critics probably failed in their history classes or they are Aamir Khan's long lost brothers from the movie Ghajini - suffering from short-term memory loss. 

Test Cricket in the olden days saw worse - slow paced dull draws. Disagree? Since these gentlemen are from England, what better examples than the Indian tours to England in 1990 & 1996. In both these tours, England won the first test match and the remaining 2 matches were boring high-scoring drawn matches. In 1990 series, there were 15 hundreds and 17 fifties in 3 test matches. A total of 4,640 runs were scored in 3 matches for the loss of 82 wickets at an average of 56.58 runs per wicket. The 1996 series was marginally better for the bowlers (mostly English bowlers!) - 8 hundreds and 10 fifties in 3 test matches. A total of 3,214 runs in 3 matches for loss of 93 wickets at 34.45 per wicket. Both these test series, post the first matches were batsmen games and that's the way the host team would have wanted it, to retain the series victory.

My theory is that the pundits have been pampered in the last decade when the win rate for test matches have gone up. Till 1999, there were 1404 test matches played (that didn't involve Zim & Ban) and 864 of these these matches ended in a result (61%). In the last 10 years, 375 matches were played (doesn't include the 2 current matches) and produced results in 269 games (71%). If we were to include Zim & Ban, the rates are 61.4% and 74.8%

So, in no shape or form, the last decade has dulled Test Cricket. Test Cricket had boring draws a few years back and will continue to have boring draws in the future. Please don't waste time in writing Test Cricket's obituary just yet.

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