Ian Chappell says players need to agitate for summit on Test cricket’s future:Former Australia skipper Ian Chappell believes that if players truly think of Test cricket as the “pinnacle” of the game, then they need to come forward and give their suggestions on how the format can remain relevant.
Chappell also said that too many formats are making the cricket schedule cluttered and this might result in a dip in performances of players in the longest format. “In a revealing and thoughtful interview during the Trent Bridge match, the current poster boy for Test cricket, Virat Kohli, made an interesting observation. When asked about the murky future of the game’s longest form, he replied: It depends on the quality of cricket; it’s the players who keep Test cricket alive,” Chappell wrote in his column for ESPNcricinfo.
This being the case, the players should want more of a say in the future direction of the game. Instead of devising more formats, which in turn results in an absurdly cluttered schedule, there needs to be rationalisation in order to produce a blueprint for the game’s future. A much-needed forum on this subject should include a wide range of participants: players, administrators, media, sponsors, medical people, and the public,” he added.
Further talking about how the quality of cricket has gone down in the longest format, Chappell said: “It’s often said that players have improved. The comment needs clarification. If the reference is to batters being more powerful hitters, then it’s true. Are they better equipped to navigate tough spells of bowling for a long period? In most cases, the answer is an emphatic no.”
“It’s the same when people profess that fielding has improved. There’s no doubt the number of athletic catches in the outfield has increased, and they are often spectacular in their execution. Has slip catching improved? Most definitely not. The bulk of the regularly spilt chances occur because of one simple flaw in footwork, and yet it remains uncorrected,” he added.
Chappell also said that the skills needed to excel in the longest format need to be acquired at a young age and in order to achieve this, cricket-playing nations need to have a functional development system.
“The skills required to excel at Test level need to be acquired at a young age and then honed in tough competition as the player rises through the grades. This can only be achieved if enough countries have a functional development system. If this is the case then Test cricket can remain vibrant, otherwise, it will wither on the vine,” said Chappell.
“If those skills are properly honed, a player can adapt to any length of the game – Kohli being a good example. If players truly believe Test cricket is the pinnacle then they need to agitate for a summit on the game’s future; they could do no better than appoint Kohli their spokesperson,” he added.