With both the AFL and NRL re-examining the debate about what should be done in games where the scores finish level, the natural question arises as to how Test cricket should resolve ties.
After all, there have been just two ties in Test match history. The first came in 1960 between Australia and the West Indies, with the second in 1986 between India and Australia.
We’re now overdue for a third tie, and it’s therefore important to come to a decision on how to deal with it, rather than scramble around, panic-stricken, when it inevitably arrives.
Note, of course, that I’m talking about ties here, rather than draws. Draws are a beloved aspect of the game, which have given cricket fans some of their most treasured memories, and there’s no reason whatsoever to change them.
After all, who can forget Faf du Plessis defying Peter Siddle in Adelaide, 2012 for most of the final day? Or Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee heroically seeing out the last four overs of the Third Test of the 2005 Ashes?
Or just last summer when the lifeless Perth track drove Mitchell Johnson to give up on the sport entirely? Wonderful moments in the game. It would be madness to discard the draw.
But what to do about ties? As far as I can see, there are three solid options. We can play extra time, the equivalent of a T20 Super Over. Perhaps five overs for each team, with the team scoring the most runs declared the winner.
After all, if five overs each is sufficient to determine a rain-affected T20 result, it’s surely enough to determine a Test. For marketing purposes and with an eye on modern over rates, we could call it a Super Session.
Alternatively, how about Golden Six? Teams take it in turns batting, an over at a time, and the first team to hit a six wins.
Or my personal favourite, a full replay of the entire Test.
Oh, sure, some people might say that there’s no need to change anything. That a tie is a special and epic result in its own right, and it shouldn’t be tampered with by artificial means to bring about a result.
But results are self-evidently much better than ties. And, anyway, what’s so artificial about Richie Benaud and Frank Worrell racing to be the one that hits the six that ends and wins the Test? Or a dehydrated Dean Jones coming out for a Super Session, barely conscious and drenched in his own urine?
People would remember and cherish these Golden Six/Super Session victories or replays just as much as any tied Test, I’m certain.
To be sure, I put these three options to the general public via a Twitter poll. And, of course, since it was an internet poll about cricket, the preferred option came back loud and clear: Virat Kohli.
But once I excluded the overly enthusiastic responses from the Indian fans, the remaining results were almost as clear. Golden Six: 53%, Replay: 33%, Extra Time: 14%.
So there you go, ICC. I’ve sorted that one out for you. Yet another box ticked off on the to-do list of bringing Test cricket into the 21st Century.
And we need it, too, because South Africa have made it clear that they’re hesitant to take part in a day-night Test in Adelaide later this year.
As Dale Steyn explained, he’d ‘love’ to play a day-night Test. Just not this particular Test, because South Africa don’t have any day-night Test experience yet.
Annoying, isn’t it, to have to do something for the first time with no experience? Why can’t we just always start things at the second time, when we’ve got some experience in the tank? Doesn’t that make more sense?
But perhaps the South Africans have a point. After all, Australia do have one more Test’s worth of day-night experience than South Africa do. Or, to examine it from a different perspective, infinitely more experience. Surely it’s unfair for South Africa to be expected to compete in such a mismatched environment?
I’d go further. Australia also have much more experience on each of their home grounds than visiting countries have. Can’t we address this imbalance too? Why not instead have all Tests assigned to a randomly chosen ground in a randomly chosen neutral country no more than forty-eight hours before the start of the match. Wouldn’t that be fairer?
And that’s just a starting point. Ultimately, Tests should only ever be played between two sets of players who have absolutely identical experience across all possible parameters. Until this happens, the game will be intrinsically unfair.
Of course, once this does happen, we can expect much more even results between all the Test-playing nations.
So it’s a damn good thing we sorted out that tie problem.