The sun hasn’t set on test cricket yet

day and nightHalf a century back, Indian weddings lasted some 5 days. In a day and age of weddings being conducted on Skype, it seems unthinkable to have a wedding spread over the course of 5 days.

It is the same with test cricket.

That it has survived in the era of t20, mushrooming cricket leagues and angry birds is itself an achievement. But if novelty were the name of the game, analog wouldn’t have given way to digital.

No other game has seen so many changes over the past 50 years as cricket has. It made a beginning as a genteel sport reserved for men who played the game as if it were a gentleman’s wager. When Kerry Packer showed cricket a new dawn, it balked. Purists cried foul while audiences lapped it all up with glee. It was like the days when CDs were making their way into the market but cassettes still stood their ground. Test cricket never saw the ODI format as a threat but rather as a younger brother who would ultimately realise that the elder brother was in charge.

T20 was cricket’s truant child, frowned upon by the powers that be but again, lapped up by the audiences. The elder brother felt threatened for the first time. Times have changed. Cassettes and smart phones no longer exist in harmony, analog cameras have been recycled to make way for digital and cell phone cameras. Whoever thought a day will come when the photo that people most want to take is the one of themselves?

The final test of a cricketer’s ability has always been test cricket. It is the only format that goes to the root of a player’s ability, gumption and ethic and strips them off their defenses. But with many games being played in front of empty stands and viewership dwindling, the format is in serious need of a ipod moment, something that reinvents it and makes it more palatable to a new generation more content with foodstagramming their every meal as the real world passes by them.

The Ashes has managed to retain its place in the cricketing pantheon while in the sub-continent, tests are regularly played to near empty galleries. It is argued that the shorter formats have changed the way tests are played and not always for the better. While more matches are seeing results and players are not letting the format stifle their style of play, expecting them to switch gears seamlessly between formats is easier said than done.

Nostalgia is looking at old photographs and then ruminating over the fact that there isn’t any place in the house to store them. It is a capsule of time that has outlived its usefulness but still tugs at the heart strings. The day and night test match has been many years in the making and it is an important step in keeping the format in the reckoning. Left unchecked, test cricket may as well slip into nostalgia mode and be relegated to the history books.

Adelaide saw a full house and the experiment seems to have succeeded. The 5 day game seemingly still has it to walk alongside t20s and command the attention and respect it deserves.

It is a rare occurrence of analog holding its own in the digital era.

For now, test cricket seems to have passed the test.


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