Although looked on by many as the most boring form of the game, test cricket is swiftly evolving into an exciting and more spectator friendly format due to the recent exploits of players such as Australia’s Adam Gilchrist, New Zealands Nathan Astle, England’s Graham Thorpe and India’s VVS Laxman. In addition to this, many teams are now emulating the tactics of the all conquering Aussie juggernaut. Coupled together what we have is, a re-vitalised form of cricket that seems set for a brighter future and resurgence of interest.
It’s no big secret test cricket matches are the domain of the "die hard” fan for anything more than the first day of play, an issue which at one time or another has been discussed and debated at the meeting table of every national cricket board with the question regularly asked, how do we get more people to test matches? Until now it would appear this question has mainly gone unanswered or more to the point, was unanswerable for a variety of reasons, but inclusive of the following;
But, it’s all changing with the "new” breed of player that is now involved in the test arena, many of whom are applying tactics normally only witnessed in the one day arena and becoming much more common place due to the dividends and the results obtained.
Where most test matches were once guaranteed to go the full 5 days, we have lately seen many of these matches concluded in as few as 3-4 days due to the voracious and aggressive tactics employed by team captains. Once we were fortunate indeed if we were present to witness a player making a ton, now we would be downright unlucky not to see several players reaching this score or even regularly witnessing a double century. The test game is evolving and quickly at that, not due to the endeavours of the cricket boards though, but solely through the exploits of individual players and teams.
Players such as Gilchrist, Astle, Thorpe and Laxman are responsible for the resurgence of interest in test cricket by having contributed exceptional performances and re-writing the record books over the last 12 months. Each has performed amazing feats with the bat and the subsequent publicity received has left indelible impressions on other test players and to a greater degree, players at the domestic and junior levels, many of whom are intent on emulating their national heroes. These players have done more for test cricket in the past 12 months than the combined efforts of all the cricket boards in the past 300 years.
If anything will put "more bums on seats” at test matches, it will be the publicity and fame these players have obtained through their exploits with the bat. Kids and fans from every nation will be clamoring to see their heroes perform.
And where did it all begin? Without doubt, the new age of test cricket dawned through the tactics devised and employed by Australia’s Steve Waugh and his all conquering band of heroes who caused the captain of every test nation they defeated, to examine how and why the Aussies were able to crush them so easily and on most occasions, so swiftly. Transferring these same tactics to their own teams has paid great dividends for many and resulted in the cricket fans being the overall winner with more exciting matches, many of which return a definite result and not simply stagnate into a draw.
We can all thank the Aussies for having re-invented the game of test cricket and the individual players who have provided new interest to what many describe as the most boring sport of all.