Alex Massie

May God Protect Us From the ICC & All Their Improvements...

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Not all change is necessarily or automatically regrettable. Even in cricket. Nonetheless, anytime anyone from the ICC talks about future plans you know that something terrible is on th ecards. No surprise then that David Taylor, president of the world's worst governing body, suggests that what we what to see is four day tests and that there's a "need" for day-night test cricket.

Never mind that there's absolutely no evidence of any demand for day-night tests, nor that day-night first class cricket was a complete and utter failure when trialled in the Sheffield Shield a few years ago. Nor is there any obvious demand or need for four days tests. True, test matches have not always been played over five days, but back then sides were capable of bowling 110-120 overs a day. Somehow I doubt that's going to happen again, though of course there's no reason, beyond an absence of will, why it couldn't.

The whole point of test cricket is that it takes a long time. That's what makes it a test. Taylor vows that in a year's time we will see "significant changes" to test cricket - a promise that should horrify anyone concerned with the game's well-being given that the ICC's dismal record strongly suggests that all their bally improvements will instead further undermine the noblest form of the greatest game.

I don't agree with everything Adam Gilchrest said in this year's Cowdrey Lecture, but this point is spot-on:

That Test cricket should be tampered with as little as is possible - its rules, customs and playing conditions - like Major League Baseball - should remain as close to how it has been played for the past 130 years. That many of cricket's innovations should be applied only in the shorter forms of the game. This not only includes the expanded umpire referral system, but especially the mooted introduction of night test cricket and a different coloured ball needed to accommodate this... But all of this begs the bigger question - why play around with test cricket at all? Fine tune maybe, but not fundamental changes. As someone recently said - You don't see the London Philharmonic doing a rappers remix of Beethoven's 5th - so why should cricket do the same with its masterpiece?

Provide proper pitches, pro-active captaincy that honours the spirit of the game and decent over rates and, mercy, there'll be nothing wrong with test cricket and, therefore, no need to tamper with it. That, of course, would diappoint the ICC who, like bureacrats everywhere, need problems to "solve" to help justify their existence and are, therefore, always prone to "tinker" regardless of the need or demand for such interference. But all the incentives lie on the side of meddling and so we suffer one bad idea after another, proposed by people whose claims to be acting in the best interest of the sport should e treated with the utmost scepticism...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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