In Brief

Four-day Tests: India and MCC voice their opposition

ICC plans to cut a day from the longest form of the game are opposed by two influential bodies

The message from the MCC: don’t tamper with Tests

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has suffered a set back that will have purists purring after the MCC and India opposed the idea to make four-day Tests mandatory from 2023.

The ICC announced its proposal to cut Tests from five to four days last month and immediately drew criticism from players, the public and the press. And now it faces opposition from within the game after the MCC’s cricket committee and world cricket committee added their opposition to the idea.

England hero Ben Stokes said the drama of England’s victory over South Africa on the fifth day of the second Test proved why the current format should stay: “It was an amazing game to be a part of. The atmosphere in the ground, it was like a home game. The fact that it went down to the wire proves why Test cricket should be five days and should stay five days.”

Spirit of cricket

The MCC remains, in the words of BBC Sport, “the guardian of the laws and spirit of cricket while its world cricket committee is an influential independent panel of former and current players and umpires”. Among those players are Brendon McCullum, Ricky Ponting, Kumar Sangakkara and Shane Warne, and they met on Tuesday to discuss the ICC’s idea of lopping a day off Test matches.

At the end of the meeting the MCC issued a statement in which they said: “Both committees believe that Test cricket should continue to be played over five days.”

The Times reports that that view is shared by Sourav Ganguly, “the president of the all-powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)”. Ganguly is also a member of the MCC’s world cricket committee, and one of the most influential voices in the sport.

In recent days Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri, the India captain and head coach respectively, have spoken out in favour of five-day Tests and it appears that their views are endorsed by the BCCI.

Money talks

According to the Times the ICC remains undeterred despite the opposition and they are “likely to propose that four-day matches should be part of the World Test Championship from 2023”, believing that there are “compelling economic and strategic reasons to shorten the longest format to four-day games”.

The proposal will be discussed at length in March at a meeting of the ICC’s cricket committee and it will then be voted on later this year by the chief executives and chairmen of the national boards.

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