x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

England-India spectacle means lower-rung Test nations must raise bar

The ongoing series between England and India has been engrossing but the International Cricket Council must work towards bridging the gap between the top four nations and the rest.

If the International Cricket Council had a dirham for every time "the demise of Test cricket has been greatly exaggerated" has been written in the past week, they would probably have made enough money to relocate to Mauritius and still have change to sponsor a five-Test series on their new front beach.

The first Test-and-a-half of the showdown between the format's two leading nations, England and India, has been about as good as this sport gets.

It has been played out in front of packed stands, with supporters of both sides arriving early and staying until after the final ball has been bowled.

Now for the curmudgeonly bit. To say that Test cricket has nothing to worry about on the basis of this series misses the point.

It is a case of preaching to the converted here. Test cricket has a better following in England than anywhere else in the world, and an encounter involving the ilk of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Kevin Pietersen and now the resurgent Stuart Broad should sell itself anyway.

But the fervour which has gripped this series does not automatically transfer itself everywhere else.

Sitting through five days of this is more attractive than doing the same when Bangladesh, Zimbabwe or the current incarnation of the West Indies, for example, are playing.

The game's governing body are serious about their intention of introducing a world championship for the top four-ranked Test sides in the near future. Unless the next best sides start bridging the gap to the top four, however, there may only be that many sides playing this version of the game anyway.

pradley@thenational.ae


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