Good Test matches are low-scoring ones
Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)
While Cricket Australia, the BCCI and the ECB may all be counting the costs in lost TV revenue and gate takings, some of the most exciting cricket has been happening of late, often finishing within four days.
How frequently do we hear that a good pitch is one that is good only for batting? But who’s to say that a pitch good for bowling isn’t good for cricket?
The least entertaining fixtures are ones that linger for five days and end in a predictable draw. While some may argue that seeing loads of runs makes a good game, I would beg to differ. If runs are made easy, their value is diminished. Some recent matches in Sri Lanka have seen scores of 500-plus made easily and consistently.
There is nothing to be gained from a run-festival bigger than Woodstock 1969. Recently we’ve been graced by memorable, top-class innings on seaming wickets.
Dave Warner’s maiden Test ton, Clarke and Ponting dragging Australia out of trouble in Sydney. These are the knocks that batsmen will remember as career highlights. The most satisfying are those innings of substance, under pressure and against the odds.
The bowlers don’t stand a chance on flat tracks and when the bowlers aren’t in the game, the contest is lost. If a bowling unit executes its plans, bowls to their field and builds pressure, they deserve rewards, just as a batsman might earn themselves a fifty or hundred by building an innings. An even fight between bat and ball is critical to a good Test match. It is the essence of the battle.
there is no excitement, no ebbs and flows, none of the things which have made Test cricket so enthralling and dynamic on other occasions. The fight in the first session of a Test, where the openers know they’re up against seaming conditions with the ball boomeranging in and hooping away.
The drama when a quick has the batsman ducking and weaving to avoid short-pitched deliveries. Shorts balls flying over the head of the wicketkeeper. Watching the ball being turned at right angles on day four and five. These are the things I find the most exciting in a Test match.
Despite this all sounding great for bowlers, these factors make innings of substance all that more glorious. Consider the great Test innings, how many of them have been scored on an absolute road? I would argue none. Twenty 20 has shown how a close game is far more exciting, and why shouldn’t that principle also apply to Test cricket?
While I do believe there is still room for a batting track and high scoring games, I rest assured that a new breed of curators are happy to be brave, bold and experiment.
The quality of low-scoring Test matches more than out does the quantity of five days of dull batting.
Maybe I’m just a bias seam bowler who wants throat rearing balls of a length all the time.
I do think, however, that the quality of recent cricket has been at an all-time high and the contest between bat and ball is at its even best of late.