India vs England – Will it be another example of what is wrong with test cricket these days?

These days, test pitches are always made for the benefit for the host nations.

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A mouth-watering test series awaits for us as India are ready to face the English music.

England has never been a merry-making place for team India in the longer format of the game. However Kohli and his men would be wanting to forget the past and create history by winning the series against a formidable English side. But is test cricket losing its charm? Have the shorter formats of the game overtaken test cricket in the modern day? Well the debate might continue for another few years but certainly neither ICC nor the test hosting countries are helping the cause of the longest format of the game.

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When was the last time we noticed a visiting nation winning a test series away from home? Are the hosting nations getting too gluttonous while demanding their curators to make pitches that completely support their strengths only? The test series nowadays are pretty much one-sided. The hosting country dominates the game from Day 1 and comfortably wins the match and the series without breaking a sweat.

Currently, South Africa are on tour to Sri Lanka. The bilateral series started with two test matches. And following the trend, Sri Lanka made a mockery of South Africa by winning both the tests just inside three days, thus wrapping up the series 2-0. South Africa were poor, lacked a spine in the middle order of their batting and were toothless in both bowling and team selection. But were South Africa really that bad?

A part of the loss should also go down to the pitches that were available. Both the pitches in the two tests were square turners. We came to see only spin bowling from the Sri Lankans. The South Africans had no answer. Neither to the pitch nor to the Sri Lankan spin attack. But my question is not only to the Sri Lankans.

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We are seeing this trend of making pitches too ‘hosting nation’ friendly everywhere in the present day scenario. There have been numerous occasions when the sub-continental countries have struggled to the pace and bounce in the foreign countries. As well, there have been ridiculous number of cases where a foreign country have succumbed to the daunting spin in the sub-continent. Does a cricket playing nation only expect to win a test series in their home? Or are there any real scopes for a country to win a series away?

Situations like these aren’t helping test cricket which is already on a free fall ever since the inception of T20 cricket. Audiences these days, especially the youth, are more interested in the shorter format of the game. But isn’t test cricket the yardstick to judge the temperament of a cricketer? Test cricket needs to be saved from this downfall. And this is where I strongly believe that ICC should intervene. ICC has to keep a benchmark for the hosting nations while they are designing their pitches. The pitches should have at least something for the visiting nations. ICC should make sure that the pitches help to create evenly contested matches. If the trend of designing pitches that massively support the home country continues then it’s not long for test cricket to enter into oblivion.

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Test cricket still remains the best format of the game. And it is time test cricket is preserved. Hopefully ICC looks into these matters so that test cricket can retrieve its charm and we can take the fun of some closely fought encounters where the both teams, the host nation as well as the visiting nation, have equal chances of winning the match.

As Kohli and co are ready to embark on a journey in England, let us hope that this test series will not be another instance of why people are losing their interest in the best format of the game.

Photo by Graham S Dean Photography

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