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Test cricket: Take a leaf out of other sports

PERTH, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 03: Ricky Ponting of Australia is chaired from the ground by David Warner and Michael Clarke after retiring from International cricket during day four of the Third Test Match between Australia and South Africa at WACA on December 3, 2012 in Perth, Australia.

With England, New Zealand, the West Indies and South Africa doing well on foreign soil and the news of retirements, Test cricket has once again found a lot of mention in sports columns these days. Still, the advent of fast cricket has spelt doom for the long format. The recent cosmetic recommendations by International Cricket’s the top body haven’t done anything to revive it.

But I was able to find quite a few rules present in other more internationally acclaimed sports which if applied here, with a few adjustments, might help sustain interest in test cricket.

Replacements

A football team can replace up to three players in the playing 11 in the second half. This helps the team to change its composition in view of the changing dynamics of the match. It can be adopted in Test cricket too, with each team having the opportunity to replace say two players in the second innings i.e. before the 3rd innings of the match, but a batsman can be replaced only by a bowler and vice-versa. A player has who struggled in the first set of innings cannot be replaced by another player with a similar profile. All-rounders and wicket-keepers cannot be replaced. We can add a few twists as well: if a team that concedes the lead in the first innings opts for a replacement, then the other team which took the lead can then ask any one of the remaining 10 players of the other team to also be replaced , albeit with a few restrictions.

Also, teams often deploy substitutes during fielding to replace slow moving fielders. Such temporary replacements only for fielding purposes should not be allowed. Substitutions, just like in football, can only be permanent for that game. At the same time care needs to be taken not to make the replacement rules too complicated or provide teams with loopholes to exploit the situation.

Umpire decision review

Only the ICC can tell us why DRS is not used much. If the big daddy the BCCI are opposed to it , let them be. Remember, they were against T20 cricket also. Here, we can take a cue from tennis. After the scores are levelled at six-all in the final set, the number of reviews gets reset to three per player.

Similarly, here for a team that manages to bat beyond 90 overs, the number of reviews can be reset to 3. On the other hand the team which manages to bowl out the opponent in less than a fixed number of overs , say 60 in 1 innings, can be granted an additional review in any one of the remaining innings.

(No) offence 

A player found guilty of any offence can be given a yellow or red card based on the seriousness of the offence. A batsman or a bowler with a ‘yellow card’ cannot play in  that second innings in which his team bats or bowls respectively. A second yellow card means his game is over for him. A red-carded player cannot play in any of the next innings and the concerned team can then field only 10 players for the remaining innings.

For a team as a whole, we can also have rules similar to that in Formula 1 wherein an offender is given a 20-second penalty. Here the team can be deducted 20 runs in the next innings it bats, or the opposition team is granted 20 additional runs in the innings in which offending team bowls. The penalty for an offence in the second innings can be carried forward to the next test match. In this way all the team members are penalised, not just the team’s captain.

The aim is to make the rules of test cricket somewhat different from other fast modes of cricket so that there is some renewed interest in watching the otherwise long and boring form of cricket.

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