The English Cricket Board has dipped its toe in the water, cautiously expressing support for Test cricket to be shortened by one day, from five to four days.
That surprised us, as we often view England as the country where change is a dirty word.
They would never throw caution to the wind in England. They prefer to take caution indoors on windy days.
Here is what an ECB spokesperson said.
“We’re definite proponents of the four-day Test concept, but cautiously so, as we understand it’s an emotive topic for players, fans and others who have concerns about challenging the heritage of Test cricket. We believe it could provide a sustainable solution to the complex scheduling needs and player workloads we face as a global sport.”
Many players are resisting the idea. We ourselves would never question the opportunity to do less work for the same pay, but if the cricket players are facing a reduction in salary, we could easily understand their reservations.
Still, there is so much overlap in the formats and leagues that planning assumes a larger role than it should perhaps occupy.
Losing key players from BBL, IPL, Sheffield Shield and other competitions that are routinely abandoned when a call up to international duty comes along is a bitter pill to swallow.
Of course, those in the know know well in advance which players will be selected in many instances, and short of a drastic reduction in the number of cricket fixtures, such losses are accepted as part of a game that stops for no one.
The closest thing to what happens to cricket would have to be State of Origin for the NRL, where rugby players want nothing other than selection to the world’s best all-star series.
If that means Melbourne Storm loses key players and loses a game or two, or Sydney Roosters have to find a way to win without a couple playmakers, well, that is reality.
Still, cricket is an exacerbated example given the congestion on the calendar, but we freely admit that the support expressed by the ECB was unexpected.