Neutral Tests should just be the start - we need a World Test Championship
WRITING on Cricinfo, UK editor Andrew Miller says that, despite poor turnouts, the Pakistan-Australia series was a success which will hopefully herald more neutral Tests in the future. Spot on; the prospect of India taking on Pakistan next year in England, simply delicious!
On the point about the poor turnouts, though 43,000 pre-sold tickets at Lord’s is indeed “not a figure to be sniffed at”, it could have been so much higher, if only (and this is a point overlooked by Andrew and all but one of the commenters) there had been a full weekend’s play at either venue, especially at Lord’s.
The ECB’s haphazard start times and starting days of Tests - no doubt at the behest of Sky - have robbed Lord’s of a full Saturday’s play too often recently. Last year against the West Indies the first Test, which began on a Wednesday, was over in three days, while this year’s Australia-Pakistan contest, which even more ludicrously started on a Tuesday, was wrapped up by 3 on the Friday.
Granted, itineraries are more packed, the one day beast is in the ascendancy and tv lucre must be paid heed, but, unless you’re planning on playing back-to-back-to-back Test matches, there’s no reason why Tests can’t start Thursday then Friday. It makes commercial sense, it makes cricketing sense, and, above all else, it makes common sense.
To the action then - how good was it to see Pakistan return to some kind of form, winning their first Test against Australia for 15 years - and following a succession of 13 straight defeats to the Aussies and a run of just one win in 18 against all comers. A complete contrast to their recent international twenty20 record.
In Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer they appear to have unearthed a pair of genuine stars for the future. The way they ripped through the Aussie top order on Wednesday morning, reducing them to their lowest total for 26 years, was sublime.
For the boys in baggy green, however, questions remain with bat and especially ball; for the second game running, opener and part time medium pacer Shane Watson bagged a five-for, to go alongside Marcus North’s 6-55 in the fourth innings at Lord’s. Watson and North took 17 wickets, the main quartet only 19 between them.
In terms of neutral Tests generally, it would be a fantastic idea. We’ve had many a neutral one-dayer in this country, hopefully we will have again, with the reintroduction of triangular one day series in the future.
And why not a triangular Test series, as happened 98 years ago - or better still, how about a World Test championship?! The case for which I outlined two years ago...
• Cricinfo: Pakistan v Australia series home