New Delhi: Calling Test cricket as the “life source” of the game, Rahul Dravid on Tuesday cautioned that the next generation of players is feeding on Twenty20 and it would deal a severe blow to the game.
The former India Test captain suggested a slew of measures to bolster the longer format, including day-night Tests, having a Test Championship, and involving lower-ranked nations in the first-class structure of the traditional powerhouses.
Dravid compared Test cricket to the trunk of a tree and other formats as its branches.
“Test cricket, an older, larger entity is [like] the trunk of a tree and the shorter game — be it T20 or ODIs — is its branches, its offshoots."
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“Now to be fair, it is the branches that carry the fruit, earn the benefits of the larger garden in which they stand and so catch the eye. The trunk, though, is the old, massive, larger thing which took a very long time to reach height and bulk. But it is actually a life source: chip away at the trunk or cut it down and the branches will fall off, the fruit will dry up,” he said during a panel discussion, ‘The Future of Test Cricket in the Modern Age’ at The Oval, London, organised by Cricinfo.
For someone who has taken great pride in wearing the traditional whites, Dravid has always spoken about the benefits of playing Test cricket. "The fundamental core of every cricketer's game is enriched by playing four- and five-day cricket. By using those well-trained powers of adaptability, discipline, resilience, and focus as a T20 cricketer, you will have double the advantage than the player possessed only of talent and timing,” he said.
“The skill of learning how to think clearly under pressure is required in Twenty20, but it is built through having to endure pressure for a session, two sessions, an entire day, a series of spells.”
Dravid said it does not augur well for the future that the focus of the young generation is on the shortest format.
“We are, I believe, maybe one generation away from reaching the point where our entire youth structures could cater only to T20 without any emphasis on the longer form of the game. By not giving young players a chance to explore their versatility, endurance or even improvisational skills, we will be selling ourselves and our sport well short.”
The 40-year-old gave his remedy for saving Test cricket. Introducing day-night Tests and restructuring first-class cricket were important steps in that direction, he pointed out.
“If it means playing day-night cricket, we must give it a try, keep an open mind. The game’s traditions aren’t under threat if we play Test cricket under lights. I know there have been concerns about the durability of the pink ball, but I have had some experience of it having played for the MCC, and it seemed to hold up okay.”
Having a regularised itinerary was another aspect that Dravid was sure would boost Test cricket.
“We can start by sorting out the scheduling around Test cricket, to ensure that teams can complete their home-and-away cycles against each other over a four-year period. This will mean balancing and creating context for all the three formats,” he said.
Giving the example of the Ashes series, he said the contest has its pride of place because it has a fixed place in the calendar.
He said the established nations should invite lower-ranked countries to play in their domestic competitions.
Reproduced From Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.