“A fish out of water is a dead fish” — this is how Virender Sehwag described the ICC’s plan to revamp Test cricket by shortening it to four days, asserting that innovation should not mean tinkering with the soul of the format.
Delivering the ‘MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture’ at the annual BCCI awards on Sunday night, Sehwag relied on some classic Hindi idioms to drive home the point that innovation in the longest form should stop at day/night matches.
” Chaar din ki chandni hoti hai, Test match nahi…Jal ki machli jal main hi acchi hai, bahar nikaloge toh mar jaegi,” he said in his inimitable style.
“…Test cricket ko chanda mama ke pass le jaa sakte hai. We can have Day-Night Test cricket. If there is a day-night Test, maybe people will come to watch game after office. Innovations should happen but within the five days. It should not be shortened” he asserted.
The ICC will consider the proposal to make Test cricket four-dayers during its cricket committee meeting in March. However, the feedback so far has been largely critical with top current and former players such as Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Ravi Shastri and Ian Botham ridiculing the plan.
Calling Test cricket an enduring romance, Sehwag said it is the waiting game which makes the format charming.
“I have always welcomed change but five day Test cricket is a romance. Bowler tries to get the batsman out by setting up a field. Batsman tries to win by building an innings…The fielder in the slip waits for the ball like a man in love waits for a ‘yes’ from his lover…all day long,” he said.
At the same time, the former opener said he is not completely averse to innovation.
“…number on jersey etc are okay but diaper and five-day cricket should be changed only when they are soiled. I don’t think there is any problem with Test cricket. It is a 142 year-old young man fit like today’s Indian team. It has a soul and this soul’s age shouldn’t be shortened,” he asserted.
Sehwag said the format has delivered on results regularly and dawn matches cannot be the basis of changing the format’s basic fabric.
“In the past five years, 31 matches have been drawn out of 223 Tests played i.e.; 13 per cent, a lot more than our GDP. In the last 10 year, only 83 matches were drawn out of 533 played i.e.; 19 per cent,” he said as he brought the house down.