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What are the root causes of Test cricket's decline?

How much of a role does reverse swing really have? (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)
Roar Rookie
15th June, 2016
19

Test cricket used to be cricket’s bread and butter, though the traditional format of the game is unfortunately going through a process of slow death.

Even though there are ten nations playing Test cricket, it seems that only four to five teams are playing enough Test cricket.

The rest are either not playing enough of it or are just not technically capable of playing the game at the highest level.

While many experts may blame the rise of T20 or the fact that Test cricket is not played at the night time, the root causes of the format’s decline are quite different.

All you have to do is unfold the results of Test matches in recent times to find two main factors.

Inability to play abroad
The term ‘home sweet home’ is far more applicable to teams playing Test cricket these days. There have been many instances in past six to seven years where a touring team, even stronger teams like England, Australia and India, have been mercilessly whitewashed by the home team.

Losing is not a problem but the way the teams have lost is a matter of concern. In recent times, South Africa’s mere surrender to India, India’s 4-0 losses to England and Australia, and Australia’s cluelessness against India in 2013 have been some of the glaring examples.

Visiting teams have been unable to play in alien conditions and it has killed the contest. There is nothing more enjoyable than the absorbing days of Test cricket where two teams fiercely compete against each other and the state of the match swings like a pendulum.

But due to the increasing inability of players to play away from home, the quality of Test cricket has dropped.

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Widening gap between upper-ranked and lower-ranked teams
When the West Indies toured Down Under for a three-match series in 2015-16, most Windies fans were not annoyed by the 2-0 loss.

Instead, most annoying was the massive gap in quality between the two teams. The West Indies’ performance was so sub-par that it didn’t feel like a contest was even happening.

No wonder the matches were boring, they extremely one-sided.

Similarly, the recently concluded Test series between England and Sri Lanka was a lop-sided affair that once again highlighted that lower-ranked teams are just not technically capable of competing with the better teams.

That is ultimately leading to an uncertain future for Test cricket.

Thus, the technical and temperamental inability of players to apply themselves in tough conditions and situations is responsible for the decline of Test cricket.