With the current trend of test matches producing results (and in well under five days, as Ahmedabad and Kanpur proved), this change may not quite be required, but to prevent recurrences of the Chennai Test of last month and the featherbed sleepathons of the 1980s, why not limit the number of overs a team faces in a test match?
I remember this being tried out in some unofficial games, so the idea is not particularly new or original, but to the extent that it has not been implemented in official games yet, let me give it a shot.
Test cricket is about strategising, planning, taking your time in implementation and countering the vagaries of the deteriorating pitch and a tiring opposition. So it is key we don’t lose these elements in the proposed format. And while the toss brings in an element of luck, it tends to play a role in determining who initiates the strategy process. We make the toss a more important factor now.
In this version of the game, both teams get to play two innings, both restricted in terms of overs. The team that wins the toss decides (a) whether to bat first or second and (b) what the composition of their two innings is to be. The opposing team will also have to adopt the same composition.
For simplicity of calculation, a test match will be considered to be worth 400 overs, net of innings changes, slow over rates and other inevitable delays. Each team is allowed 200 overs. And the toss-winning captain decides how to split the overs. For ease of calculation and a semblance of balance, we give a minimum of 50 overs per innings and allow splits in lots of 25. So if the captain fancies a wearing pitch, he can choose 150 overs for the first innings and 50 for the second. Except that the opposition will also get the same break-up. If a team gets bowled out earlier, the remaining overs lapse. On the other hand, if the captain fancies early juice on day 1 and a featherbed from day 2, he can opt for a 50-over first innings and a long stint the second time round.
Sounds insane? Surely we want more masterpieces like this Don classic?
Part 1 – 50Fifty
Part 2 – More new balls