Test Cricket must remain 11 v 11

I read that support is increasing for the concept of substitute bowlers or batsmen in Test Cricket. This would be a terrible innovation!

The justification for the idea seems to be that the physical (and even mental) demands on cricketers having to adapt from Test Cricket to 20/20 Cricket and everything in between are becoming too tough. I have two problems with this.

Firstly, “substitutes” would defeat the point of the game – a five-day challenge between two teams of eleven who just have to deal what is thrown at them. The weather, the pitch, yes, even the potential for injury are all part of the game – adapting to them tactically and mentally are integral to the challenge. Let us not kid ourselves either that substitutes would only be used for injured players – almost no sooner had rugby union introduced substitutes than tactical substitutions were in practice the norm. Allowing a team to realise it’s made a mistake and can thus throw on the extra spinner it didn’t select originally, or to take off an under-performing batsman, would fall well outside the spirit of the game.

Secondly, I do not accept the premise. Cricketers do not have to switch from Test to 20/20 and back – indeed, increasingly I believe they shouldn’t. The two are diverging, to the extent nearly of rugby union versus rugby league, and that is no bad thing. 20/20 has the potential to capture fans of the game from a certain section of society; and Test Cricket an entirely different section. It may be so for players too. As such, 20/20 should be the innovative version – subs and all. But Test Cricket should remain what it is – the ultimate five-day mental and physical challenge for two teams of eleven.

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3 thoughts on “Test Cricket must remain 11 v 11

  1. Paul Wilson says:

    While I would much rather see T20 and Test cricket continue to run in parallel, I agree with you that divergence is more likely. You’re spot on with the objections to the suggested changes; they would be impractical and also “just not cricket”. Great post IJP!

  2. Some may be shocked to see me comment on this one, but I have to admit I do like cricket a lot and now that I have been down here in Brisbane, it’s great fun being on the deck in the hammock, beer, burgers and TV watching the Aussies get hammered by the South Africans in Perth, De Villiers was amazing yesterday tbh.

    When I lived in the Caribbean the guys from Antigua and Trinidad really loved especially the 20/20 version but they still enjoyed the pace of the Test version. I do not see it becoming as divided as say Rugby League and Union is, there will always be (IMHO) a large crossover of players playing both but it must be obvious to all that 20/20 is what will be the main driving force for the growth of the game in it’s traditional homes and elsewhere too

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