Root, Lyon, Philander – what the players think about four-day Test cricket

Joe Root
Joe Root

The ICC is exploring the idea of regular four-day Test cricket, to the point of possibly making it part of the 2023 Test championship. The argument for the move is that it could free up a calendar that is currently clogged with too many fixtures. But there is also a worry that without the fifth day, chances of a definitive result might reduce. Here’s what the players think.

Joe Root, England captain: I think here’s a place for it in the game

“I do,” he told Sky Sports. “Whether that’s across the board or can it be flexible – we’ve obviously played one against Ireland. I’m sure that pitch would’ve been fit for a three-day game. I think it’s worth trialing. I do think it’s worth trialing and it might not always make sense for England to play especially if it’s against Australia or some of the bigger sides but it might draw a bit more interest with some of the countries who struggle to get people in the ground.”

Former England captain Nasser Hussain prompted Root about the possibility about spin going out of the game if there isn’t enough time for a pitch to deteriorate, especially outside Asia. “If you don’t try it you don’t know,” Root replied. “You should be open minded enough to at least try it and see how it goes. I think the most important thing is not making a definitive decision. I love playing five days of cricket personally. I think it’s the best format. The extra day, like you say, it really does make [sure], majority of the time, 99% of the time, the best team’s won the game.

Nathan Lyon, Australia offspinner: I hope ICC aren’t even considering it

“Ridiculous. I’m not a fan of four-day Test matches,” he told The Unplayable Podcast “I believe you’ll get so many more draws and day five is crucial.

“One, there’s the weather element. But the wickets these days are probably a lot flatter than they have been in the past, so it allows teams to bat longer and to put pressure on sides. You need time for the pitch to deteriorate and bring spinners in more on day five as well.

“It’s a challenge You’re challenging yourself in different ways – physically and mentally. It’s not just a walk in the park. Five-day Test matches, they are hard work especially if the conditions aren’t in your favour. You want to challenge yourself. I’m all against four-day Test matches.”

David White, New Zealand Cricket Chief executive: It demands serious attention

“Given the congested schedule, four-day Tests demand serious consideration in order for us to accommodate an increasingly packed calendar – ICC world events, bilateral arrangements, and domestic leagues,” he told the Telegraph.

Glenn McGrath, former Australia fast bowler: Hate to see it get shorter

“I’m very much a traditionalist I like the game the way it is. To me five days is very special and I’d hate to see it get any shorter. The introduction of pink Tests, day-night Tests is a great way to continue keeping our game fresh and moving forward. In respects to changing how many days it’s played, I’m actually against it. I like the way it is.”

Jos Buttler, England wicketkeeper: In this day and age, we have to consider it

“Test cricket is the pinnacle but you have to be open to change,” Buttler said. “I think the game has changed and if four-day Test cricket could preserve and potentially improve Test cricket I think it has to be looked at. I think we all love a five-day finish with all three results possible on the last day but can four-day cricket be a success? I think if it’s done properly it can be. In this day and age we have to consider all the opportunities to see how we can do what’s best for Test cricket.”

Vernon Philander, South Africa fast bowler: I am a purist

“I hope five-day Test cricket doesn’t come to an end,” he said. “There is only one format and that’s Test cricket. T20 cricketers come and go and the names come and go, Test cricket is the ultimate. Hopefully we can still see five-day Test matches. I know there has been a lot of talk about having four-day Test matches but I am a purist when it comes to cricket and I would like to see Test matches survive for five days.”

Tim Paine, Australia captain: Merit in trying it out for the odd Test

“I think it should be taken into consideration,” he said. “I dare say going back six or seven years if you let the players decide on pink ball that probably wouldn’t have happened. There is always going to be some give and take. I think there is some merit on it being in the odd Test like we did with England and Ireland. But I think the big marquee Test series, the Test championship stuff has to stay five days.”

Rassie van der Dussen, South Africa batsman: Pitches will change to force results

“I’ve never played a five-day match in my life,” he said. “It’s difficult to say. In terms of over rate, we were a bit slow [in Centurion], England were also a bit slow, so there is definitely scope to fit in more overs in the day. We were coming off at 5.30 and there was bright sunshine on most days and you can definitely squeeze in half an over there and make up another eight overs. In the calendar these days, it’s definitely something that you have to consider. The pitch does deteriorate enough in four days to get a result and I think that will also make groundsmen prepare pitches that will force results in four days, like we had at Centurion. We’ll also probably have it at Wanderers where the cracks open up. It’s something to consider.”

Keshav Maharaj, South Africa left-arm spinner: I just want to play

“I just want to play Test cricket, whether its five days, four days, two days,” he said. “I just want to bowl and hopefully get some runs when I bat. I’ve got no issues with the duration of the Test match, I just want to play Test cricket.” (ESPNCricinfo)