Indian legend Ravi Shastri suggests a controversial change to save Test cricket

Ravi Shastri has had his say on what he believes Test cricket has to do to maintain interest

Paul Eddison
Wednesday 10 July 2024 08:12
India coach Ravi Shastri at training

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Louise Thomas

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Test cricket needs to be reduced to six or seven teams to maintain interest in the format according to former India captain and coach Ravi Shastri.

Speaking at World Cricket Connects, an event at Lord’s hosted by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) designed for the leading voices in the game to discuss the health of cricket, and consider the path required for its future success, Shastri felt that a radical change is needed.

Ravi Shastri spoke about the future of Test cricket at an event hosted by the MCC
Ravi Shastri spoke about the future of Test cricket at an event hosted by the MCC (Getty Images)

T20 cricket is growing in popularity, while the longest format struggles for financial viability outside the big three of India, Australia, and England.

The solution to this, according to Shastri, is a reduction of the number of teams playing Test cricket.

He explained: “When you don’t have quality, that is when the ratings drop, there are fewer people in the crowd, its meaningless cricket, which is the last thing sport wants.

“When you add the word Test cricket, the question asked is, is it really a test? Why do people who have played all formats love Test cricket? Because it tests you. When you don’t get that kind of competition, people lose interest which is not good for the game.

“You have 12 Test match teams. Bring it down to six or seven and have promotion and relegation system. You can have two tiers but let the top six keep playing to sustain the interest in Test cricket.

“You can spread the game in other formats, like T20.”

Mark Nicholas, the President of the MCC, hosted the event, which brought in a wide range of voices including players, coaches, broadcasters, franchise owners and administrators.

Ravi Shastri believes there should be less Test cricket to maintain interest in the format
Ravi Shastri believes there should be less Test cricket to maintain interest in the format (Getty Images)

Discussing a wide range of topics, including scheduling, the role of franchise cricket, the future of bilateral series as well as the growth of the women’s game, many different voices were able to put their views across.

Summing up some of the themes touched upon over the course of the day, Nicholas added: “Nobody said they didn’t want Test matches. There was one idea to have fewer Test nations and create a higher standard. The idea of building the game around Test nations was seen as dangerous because it is impossible for associates to find the money to stage Test cricket and therefore, by definition, it doesn’t really work.

“It’s all very well saying write the money off because it’s experience but if the standard is low and it puts people off Test cricket without it being competitive.

“What the world is reacting to, not England, is the short form. If you go to a cricket ground, that is where the children are. T20 cricket is the behemoth that everybody wants.

“It is where the new market is, where the fans are and where the money is. In cricket money is seen as a dirty word but it shouldn’t be because it is the only way to sustain the game.”

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