Sri Lanka coach Mickey Arthur, who is part of the ICC cricket committee that will consider making four-day Tests mandatory as part of the World Test Championship from 2023, has shot down the proposal.
Arthur has joined the likes of Virat Kohli, Ben Stokes and Vernon Philander in opposing four-day Test cricket, which is being considered by the ICC in order to free up a calendar that is cramped with too many fixtures and T20 leagues.
“Look, I say five-day Test cricket is the way to go,” Arthur said on the eve of Sri Lanka’s third T20I against India in Pune. “Test cricket challenges you – it challenges you mentally, it challenges you physically and it challenges you technically. And a lot of the time on the fifth day, we’ve witnessed a really good Test match that wouldn’t have lasted [otherwise].”
A move to cut the fifth day would ease the financial pressure on boards, but Arthur stressed that Test cricket shouldn’t be tampered with because of financial or commercial reasons.
“Look, we can talk about financial pressures and that type of stuff,” he said. “[But], I think the fabric of Test cricket shouldn’t be messed with. You want wickets deteriorating on day five, you want thrillers that go all the way, there are a lot of really good exciting draws where one team plays it out. So, I definitely think five-day Test cricket is the way to go without a doubt.”
Former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene, who is also part of the ICC cricket committee, isn’t in favour of four-day Test cricket as well.
“We will discuss it in the meeting and I don’t know what will happen after that but my personal opinion is that it should remain five days. I would not want any change,” Jaywardene had told PTI.
India coach Ravi Shastri is also not a fan of the proposal. “Four-day Test is nonsense,” he told Indian news channel CNN-IBN. “If this goes on we may have limited-overs Tests. There is no need to tamper with five-day Tests. If at all they want to tamper then let the top six sides play five-day Tests and the next six be allowed to play four-day Tests. If you want preserve Tests then let the top six play more against each other. You have the shorter format to popularise the game.”
West Indies opener Chris Gayle also joined the other strong voices in rejecting the idea of four-day Test cricket. “I am not a fan of that [four-day Tests]. I’ve played a 100 Test matches,” Gayle said. “A few finish in three days, a few finish in four days, but five days Test cricket is ultimate. It sets the trend. It has been there for ages, so why go and mess with it. If they give other players opportunity to actually experience it as well because it can be a life-changing experience to play five days of Test cricket. It tests your mental state so you can cope in life as well.”
The ICC is set to meet in March 2020 to discuss the four-day Test proposal.