Boycott calls for four-day Tests to save soul of game

"To me Test cricket is the heart and soul of the game." he said. "But, with the exception of England, Test match crowds are falling everywhere. Why? In this modern world people have more choice, and life has changed. It's lived at a much faster pace and people simply don't have time for a five-day cricket match.

"I think we should look at the game and ask 'what can we do to make it better, more interesting and more relevant to today's world and still preserve the character and ethos of the game?' I think we should have four-day Test matches of seven hours a day, and we should guarantee 15 overs an hour. That's 105 overs a day, 420 in a match."

The 64 year-old Yorkshire legend criticises the International Cricket Council for the way in which it runs many aspects of the game, but principally for allowing captains to get away with slow over-rates. He pointed the finger at Michael Vaughan and Graeme Smith, whose sides failed to complete their overs on time during any day's play on England's tour of South Africa, and labelled the way captains abuse this as a "cheats' charter".

Boycott also feels that there is too much international cricket played and he questions the Test status of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. "I honestly believe that the ICC should be ashamed of itself for allowing this devaluation of Test cricket to continue. Both countries want to keep their Test status because it brings in television money but you don't keep countries playing out of their depth just so they can make money. Ability must be the criteria."

Boycott amassed 48,426 first-class runs during his career, but his style of batting did not lend itself to limited-overs cricket. Yet this has not stopped him from becoming a big fan of Twenty20 cricket.

"I would like to see a Twenty20 World Cup," he said. "It's an amazing game which has excited audiences and filled grounds, and it could easily take the place of the ICC Trophy which last year in this country was a damp squib."

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