Is Shashank Manohar right about the state of Test cricket?

James Fitzgerald

ICC Board Meeting

During an address today regarding the incoming ICC Test World Series, ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar stated that Test cricket as it stands now is 'dying'. This rather outlandish comment at an announcement intended to boost the format was both irresponsible and fairly off the mark.

Outside of the marquee series between the big three - England, Australia and India - there is little to show in regard to crowds and ratings, as well as the revenue that the format brings to the ICC coffers. But that does not mean Test cricket is on its last legs.

It is very easy as an official or board member to sit back and count the dollars flying in from various and obscure T20 competitions that are now littering the globe. But it is in the purer and original format where the both the grassroots battle and the revenue pie must be fought and preserved, not slandered.

Throughout 2018 and the first part of this year, we have seen a marvelous advertisement for the apparently terminal longer form. The West Indies are a great example of that, as they dismantled a cocky English side over two Tests. Watching the crowd build and build in Barbados and Antigua, celebrating wildly, brought back memories of happier times and gave a vision of a brighter future and a sense of optimism.

The same can be said of India's first series win in Australia. There were large, raucous crowds, a mix of Australians in torment and Indians in ecstasy; what better example of the re-invigoration of Test cricket can there be than that?

New Zealand have played well beyond their scope and lack of pedigree too, and Pakistan, well, keep being the enigma that is Pakistan.

These are not mere signs of rejuvenation or rebirth for Test cricket. These moments, victories and history-making moments are only possible when playing the longest format.

T20 certainly has its place within the international scene. It is the golden goose that lays the same coloured egg - propping up financially ailing boards and teams so they can compete at the highest level. But it is not a sustainable, long-term product that many in the top-end of town believe it to be.

The 20-over game is still new, a tiny blip in cricket's long history. There are so many uncertainties in it that banking on this one format to carry you through is both risky and downright irresponsible.

People change, as do tastes - which is why we have seen a downturn in the longer formats.

Test cricket will always produce matches, results and fandom of higher calibre than T20 cricket. There is the drama, the intensity, the skill and the patience that make it twist and turn, weave and duck and more often that not astound the viewer with its randomness.

Shashank Manohar should have been lording the showings of the past year, beaming optimism as he announced the ICC Test Word Series. Instead, we got pessimism and poorly thought out remarks, which ironically will only damage the brand and 'improvement' of the game that he was there to apparently promote.