The integrity of Test cricket has been brought back into question this week, following New Zealand's incredible thrashing of Zimbabwe in their 1st Test clash in Harare.
on, you would be forgiven for believing it was going to be a contest.
The Kiwi's were 5/114, and must have been gearing themselves up to have a
bowl that afternoon.
Enter Brendan McCullum and Daniel Vettori. Both
scored centuries, and along with help from the tail, New Zealand were
able to declare at their overnight total of 9 for 452. Not a bad
recovery, one would think.
Day 2 ended early. Not because of poor
light, or wet weather, or even riots. No, it ended early, because
Zimbabwe were unable to cope with the 'lethal' New Zealand bowling
attack, and lost their entire 20 wickets in less than a day. That's
right. TWO innings, not one. All out for 59 and then 99. Not since the
days of uncovered wickets and 'The Demon' Spofforth and 'Terror' Turner
have Test matches been concluded in under two days. But here we are, the
fifth-rated Test nation giving the ninth-rated Test nation a
bollocking. And on their home turf, as well.
If history is any
guide, the International Cricket Council will do little to find a
solution to the apparent decline in the standard of some Test nations.
It appears as though it has been posted into the 'too hard' basket.
Perhaps moving their headquarters from Lords to Dubai will clear their
thinking a little.
No one is denying that exposing fledgling
nations to international cricket through the One Day format, via the ICC
Trophy and World Cup, is an excellent concept. The more intelligent
format for the qualifying rounds of the 2007 World Cup in the West
Indies will also (hopefully) bring with it more competitive matches, and
less blow-outs. The One Day format also, on occasions, provides upset
results, such as Bangladesh defeating Australia in England two months
ago. For heaven's sake – Zimbabwe have made the Super Six of the past
two World Cups, and Kenya made the semi-finals in 2003!
Cricket is a different ball game. You don't get five overs of Michael
Clarke to slog at in the middle overs – you get 30 overs of McGrath and
40 of Warne. When 50 overs have been bowled, Ponting will keep pounding
at you until you can dismiss him. And when you wake up sore on the third
morning, you can't have a replacement – you have to go out there and do
it all again.
A properly-convened two-tier system in Test
cricket can work. Those deemed to be second-tier nations can still play
each other, building up their own rivalries. They would also be
scheduled to make tours of the major nations. For example, Bangladesh
would tour Australia, playing first-class matches against all the state
teams, as well as, say, two five-day clashes against an Australia A
team. As a result, Bangladesh are exposed to good, hard first class
cricket, in differing conditions, while Australia's first class
cricketers have the opportunity to press their own selection claims
against International opponents. With first-class matches being squeezed
out of International programming in the modern age, due to so much more
International cricket being played, it would be a great opportunity for
the First Class teams around the world to still get matches against
Whatever the case, let's hope that this
week's result is the last of its kind. The game of cricket doesn't need
to have such one-sided results occurring. There are enough of those
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Thursday, August 11, 2005
... and On the Other Side of the Coin...
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