x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Tests to remain 'soul of game'

The India coach Gary Kirsten has brushed aside fears that Twenty20 competitions like the Indian Premier League could diminish the country's pool of Test cricketers.

DUBAI // Gary Kirsten, the India coach, has brushed aside fears that Twenty20 competitions like the Indian Premier League (IPL) could diminish the country's pool of Test cricketers, saying the five-day format will always be the pinnacle of the sport. Rahul Dravid, one of Test cricket's foremost batsmen, recently said that young Indian cricketers lacked the "all-consuming desperation" to succeed in the longer version of the game because of the growing appeal of events like the IPL.

Kirsten, however, suggested the IPL can benefit Indian cricket by improving their Twenty20 game without infringing on, or harming, the future of Tests. "We are moving into the modern world of sport and T20 is a very important component of it," said Kirsten. "It is really up to the individuals to decide how they want to be remembered, what legacy they want to leave behind. "I would say 90 per cent of the cricketers that I have spoken to want to be remembered as great Test cricketers, and I think it is exciting for the game.

"We want to maintain Test cricket as the soul of the game and what it stands for. "We understand that T20 plays a very important role in the game and you are going to have specialist T20 cricketers. We need to accept that." The third season of the IPL will begin next week and Kirsten said he would be in attendance for some of the games to take notes with one eye on the World Twenty20, which starts on April 30 in the West Indies.

"That's probably been our worst area of performance, the T20 World Cup, and we've got a bit of work to do there," added Kirsten. "We've got some ideas on how we want to take it forward. But it's been an area we realise we need to have a re-look at our strategies, re-look at our thinking and game plans. "We will use this IPL time as a vehicle or platform to see what players are able to do the things that we need to do in a T20 game."