How to get rid of draws in Test cricket, if we must

Ben Pobjie Columnist

By Ben Pobjie, Ben Pobjie is a Roar Expert

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    It’s been a while since I experienced the old familiar feeling of wishing Brian Lara would piss off.

    Indeed, the great man retired ten years ago, and in the intervening time I think I’ve barely felt a powerful desire to tell Brian Lara to stick his head up his fundament at all. Maybe occasionally during a commentary stint, but not really, not like the old days.

    In a way it’s quite cheering to once again want Lara to go away – makes me nostalgic for the good old days. Or rather, the bad old days: the days when Lara kept on walking out to bat, and then walking back again about a week later. He was a terrifying batsman when it was your team bowling to him.

    But now he’s proving an irritant in an entirely new way, without a flowing cover drive or devastating swivel-pull in sight. His new thing is trying to ruin Test cricket, with the suggestion that draws be eliminated.

    The idea of getting rid of draws is not a new one: plenty of people have suggested the game could be improved if they were cut out.

    But unlike most of those people, there is some evidence that Brian Lara isn’t a cricket-hating imbecile.

    After all the time he spent playing the game, you might assume that he has some affection for it, so maybe in this case the anti-draw push is motivated by something other than a wish to kill Test cricket stone-dead.

    Nevertheless, there is a major flaw in the view that Test matches should “always have a result”: that being that they already bloody do. A Test can be won, a Test can be lost, a Test can be drawn, a Test can be tied. All of these are results, because that’s the way the game goes.

    The other major flaw in Lara’s argument is that he simply recommends we “find a way where you structure the game… and come up with some formula that can bring a winner at the end of it”.

    Well gee, thanks a bunch, Duckworth-Lewis. Tell us we need to get rid of draws and then don’t even supply a suggestion as to how that could be done? His statement is as essentially useless as his record-breaking run-scoring in a losing series against Sri Lanka.

    Brian Lara batting for West Indies

    So yet again, it falls to me, the Voice of the Cricketing Public, to take up the slack and do the hard policy work on behalf of a cricket legend.

    As I’ve said, I am entirely of the view that draws are an essential part of Test cricket’s charm and must remain if the unique tension and diverse skillset of the long-form game are to remain undiminished.

    But if icons insist on sticking their oar in and floating thought bubbles down the rapids, let’s at least have a robust debate based on solid, realistic proposals for ensuring there is always a winner in a Test. For example:

    • The minimalist model: rules of the game stay the same in all respects except that in the event of a draw, the team with the most boundaries is awarded the win.
    • The maximalist model: Test matches to be reduced from five days to half an hour, teams to be cut from eleven players to six, and rules of cricket to be amended to be rules of indoor soccer instead.
    • The physical exertion model: if neither team can bowl the other out twice, players’ uniforms to be wrung out and whoever has produced the greatest volume of sweat over the five days is the winner.
    • The puzzle model: In the event of a draw each team nominates its most intelligent member, who must compete to be the first to follow a series of cryptic clues to find and unlock a hidden treasure chest.
    • The Jules Verne model: In the event of a draw, teams to embark on a race around the world.
    • The Manhood Model: Team with the biggest bats is the winner.
    • Super Over: Similar to the popular super-over concept in Twenty20, except that to retain the majesty of Test cricket, the winner will be the team that plays the greatest number of technically correct forward defensives.
    • Toastmaster model: whichever captain gives the most gracious post-match speech is the winner.
    • Timeless model: Tests to be played to a finish no matter how long.
    • X-treme Timeless model: Tests to be played to a finish with no breaks between days for sleep.
    • Predictive model: At the start of each test every player guesses how many times batsmen will offer no shot throughout the match. If the game ends in a draw, whichever player came the closest to the right answer claims the win for his team.
    • Gladiator model: Tests to be played to the death.

    Personally I think we should just keep draws, but feel free to have the discussion.

    Ben Pobjie
    Ben Pobjie

    Ben Pobjie is a writer & comedian writing on The Age, New Matilda and The Roar, whose promising rugby career was tragically cut short the day he stopped playing rugby and had a pizza instead. The most he has ever cried was the day Balmain lost the 1989 grand final. Today he enjoys watching Wallabies, Swans, baggy greens, and Storms.

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    The Crowd Says (28)

    • Roar Rookie

      April 28th 2017 @ 7:50am
      Andre Leslie said | April 28th 2017 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      Haha… Nice one Ben. You’re right, in the quotes I saw, Lara provides very little insight into how he would actually re-structure the game. I like your X-Treme Timeless model.

      Seriously though.. I think there are bigger issues to look at in Test cricket – eg. increasing the relevance of bilateral series, decreasing the importance of the home advantage – if organizers want to fill the Test grandstands again.

      Lara’s measure (that US citizens can’t understand a game that lasts 5 days which has no result) shouldn’t be a reason to change. Those fans now have T20 after all.

    • Editor

      April 28th 2017 @ 8:17am
      Josh Elliott said | April 28th 2017 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      Definitely the X-Treme Timeless. What compelling watching that would be!

      • Roar Guru

        April 28th 2017 @ 8:49am
        Wayne said | April 28th 2017 @ 8:49am | ! Report

        I’m In

    • April 28th 2017 @ 8:30am
      Peter Z said | April 28th 2017 @ 8:30am | ! Report

      Brilliant Ben. I like the ‘Gladiator model’ best.

      Tendulkar has also said some hare-brained things since he retired. Between Lara and he, I think we’ve found a correlation between the sublime and the idiotic.

      I

    • April 28th 2017 @ 8:36am
      JohnB said | April 28th 2017 @ 8:36am | ! Report

      I like your 3rd suggestion Ben. My ability to sweat profusely if I have to do anything more than stand up from my chair would give me a totally unexpectedly strong chance of Test selection.

      • Roar Pro

        April 28th 2017 @ 8:52am
        Andrew Young said | April 28th 2017 @ 8:52am | ! Report

        JohnB to replace Marsh M?!

        • April 28th 2017 @ 2:39pm
          JohnB said | April 28th 2017 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

          While not disputing he’d win out (very very comfortably) in the mundane batting, bowling and fielding areas of the game, I’m quietly confident that my contributions in my speciality area would be a lot more consistent than his were in his specialities. Not more valuable, but more consistent.

          • April 28th 2017 @ 2:47pm
            JohnB said | April 28th 2017 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

            On a more serious note, it might be something to do with holding or having held the highest Test score. While it’s Lara now coming out with an empty comment bubble showing no thought whatsoever, a few years back Matt Hayden was advocating a return to timeless tests. That would really produce riveting cricket and no logistical or commercial issues of any sort.

          • Roar Pro

            April 30th 2017 @ 8:26am
            Andrew Young said | April 30th 2017 @ 8:26am | ! Report

            JohnB, sometimes I wonder if he would actually have you covered in those mundane areas!

            • May 1st 2017 @ 4:27pm
              JohnB said | May 1st 2017 @ 4:27pm | ! Report

              Andrew sadly chances are all members of his family (including his mother, any sisters, and any living grandparents) would not be too troubled!

    • Roar Pro

      April 28th 2017 @ 8:41am
      Andrew Young said | April 28th 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      This is such a good piece. I was also disappointed when I read what Lara had to say- the fight for a draw can be one of the most compelling elements of a test match!
      By the way, my vote would have to go for the technically correct forward defence super over- what a concept!

      • April 28th 2017 @ 12:46pm
        Timmuh said | April 28th 2017 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

        Back foot defence and leaves would have to be included as well, or a limit on the length a bowler could bowl.

    • April 28th 2017 @ 10:25am
      Al said | April 28th 2017 @ 10:25am | ! Report

      Some kind of hybrid x-treme timeless / gladiatorial overtime – Thunderdome!

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