a fairly routine slips catch for Virat Kohli became so much more.
Over the years Test matches have seen more results and far less draws. Many of those matches even don’t go into the fifth day.
A good number of draws are due to weather-related interruption rather than huge scores scored.
I remember India playing Pakistan in Jaipur Test of 1987. The match ended in a draw, with Rabi Sastri taking more than an hour to move from 99 to 100. India lost that five match series 0-1, with the rest of the four Tests in that series ending in a draw.
This was not such an isolated series. Most of the Test matches held in India since late 1970s ended in draws. The first and foremost is the six-match series in 1978 at home against a second-string West Indian side as most of the tourist’s stalwarts were playing for Kerry Packer.
The match ended in India winning the series 1-0, the rest five of them ending in draws.
Following season in 1978-79, both the six-Test match series in held in India against Australia and Pakistan ended with India winning 2-0, with rest of the Tests ending in tame draws.
The 1981-82 six Test India tour by England ended in the host country winning the series 1-0. I remember an English batsman Chis Tavare, who will go to sleep on the wicket, stonewalling the bowlers.
India at home then was mostly led by Sunil Gavaskar, who seemed more interested in accumulating statistics and preferred defensive cricket to eke out narrow wins. He let most Tests run into boring draws, ultimately at the cost of spectators who were robbed off value for their money.
A home Test series in India against the visiting Pakistan in 1983 ended in an all Test draw. Only the indomitable West Indies, a force to reckon with those days scored a three-Test win in a six Test series they played in India in 83-84.
The English tour of India in 1984-85 was slightly better – in the sense that the 5 Test match series ended with England winning 2-1.
For the first time, after almost a decade more Tests were decisive than ended in a draw in a series played in India, without involving the rookies Sri Lanka who got the Test-playing nation status in 1982.
Interestingly, it was the same visiting English team which won the five-Test match series 3-1 back in 1976-77, partly due to the Indian skipper Bisen Bedi who preferred to have sporting wickets rather and was less interested in statistics oriented dull draws.
Dull draws were not just a monopoly of Tests played inside India. Pakistan had its fair share too, though they get fired up against India at home, winning their home series against their Eastern by 2-0 in a three-Test series (1978) and 3-0 in a six-Test series (1983).
Test matches played in Australia, England, New Zealand and West Indies had their share of draws, though a whole lot less compared to India. It can be attributed to bouncy tracks for Australia and West Indies, and swinging, green turf of England and New Zealand.
South Africa did not enter the Test-playing scene until 1992, when far fewer number of matches ended in a draw.
So what can be attributed to the gradual decline in the number of Test match draws? Fast and foremost reason is the change in the batting style after the advent of limited over cricket, 50 over series followed by 20 overs T20 games.
Batsmen are more committed to the front foot and lack patience for a long stint at the wicket. The motto now is hit out or get out, which has spilled over from ODI cricket to Test matches.
The second reason is the improvement in quality of wickets in India. They no more dusty, brown tracks of 1970s and ’80s. The outfields are far greener, the fielders don’t hesitate to dive to field better, resulting in more catches and run outs which contributes to end of the innings sooner than it used to be before.
It has made Test cricket more attractive and no one is shedding a tear or missing those good ole days of dull draws.