Four-day tests will revive cricket's traditional format, says Sir Richard Hadlee

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Four-day tests will revive cricket's traditional format, says Sir Richard Hadlee

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SportsCafe Desk

10/01/2017

New Zealand's cricketing great Sir Richard Hadlee believes that four-day tests will revive the Tests, which are being dominated by limited overs cricket and fail to attract audiences. Moreover, Hadlee has signed off on an official involvement with NZC with a book tour as a tribute to his father.

Sir Richard Hadlee made his debut in a four-day test and is now projecting that it's return will save cricket's traditional format. Fast bowler Shane Bond joined Hadlee in demanding a cutback in five-day tests in a bit to refresh the format to conform to current conditions.

"I'm a traditionalist but if we don't change we're going to lose the game that is the foundation on what cricket is based: five-day test cricket. If it comes back to four I don't have a problem as long as they bowl the overs," said Hadlee to Stuff.co.nz.

At present, Hadlee, who snared 431 wickets in 86 tests, is touring the country in order to promote his new book, The Skipper's Diary, which is about his father, Walter's account of the 1949 tour of England. 

"My view of four-day cricket is they've got to bowl 100 overs a day and they stay out there till they do, unless it's weather affected. They've got to quicken it up,” said Hadlee.

"These guys in 1949 were bowling 120 overs in six hours, and 350-400 runs were scored. If you bowled 100 in a day you might have to start earlier to get it in but you're only losing 50 overs in a test match."

As per a report in the Telegraph, the England and Wales Cricket Board will strive to reduce Tests from five to four days after hosting the 2019 Ashes series. At the next International Cricket council board meeting in Auckland, scheduled to be start on October 10, this issue will be discussed. 

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White also backed the four-day tests as it prepares to host England in the country's first day-night pink ball test at Auckland's Eden Park in March. The four-day tests would be played from Thursday to Sunday in order to get the most out of weekend crowds, and it will also allow three-test series over successive weekends.

The Black Caps will only play this summer's four home tests against West Indies and England in the next one year. At the same time, 10 lucrative home Twenty20 internationals are scheduled as well. 

Hadlee also commented on the T20 revolution, saying that preserving the Test cricket and attracting crowds is the biggest challenege.

 "That's what the consumer wants, spectators and television, and trying to preserve and protect test cricket is a real challenge. We need to make test cricket more relevant because people haven't got five days to watch the game on television or at the ground,” Hadlee said.

"By introducing the day-night test in Auckland it will be new and it has worked in Australia. Whether the weather is kind to us at night is something to consider."

Undeniably, weather will prove to be an obstacle for four-day tests in New Zealand. Rain has earlier ruined two well-poised contests against South Africa in Dunedin and Hamilton in March and both were five-dayers.

Further, Shane Bond, who is coaching New Zealand A in India at present and has been confirmed as England's fast bowling consultant for the Ashes series in November, said that it was odd having tests not being aligned with first-class cricket which is played over four days.

"I love test cricket but you want to try to get a result and make it exciting. If you want to keep people engaged in the longer formats, to go along or watch on TV, it's got to suit in terms of hours and you want to see results. There have been a lot of results in games around the world, within four days," Bond said.

"If they get the pitch preparation right and allow something for bowlers, whether it turns or whether it seams, and put some limitations of the first innings then it can only be good for the game."

Meanwhile, Hadlee is looking forward to ending his official involvement with NZC with his book tour, which is being conducted as a tribute to his father and the '49ers, the team he labelled as the trailblazers for the game in New Zealand.

The 66-year-old Hadlee, having retired from cricket in 1990, has stepped down from the NZC board, and also had a stint as national selector earlier. 

"I've had four extremely enjoyable years on the board and really embraced the fact I could still be involved in the game. To commit for another three years, I wasn't quite ready to do that, particularly this project that's taken four years in itself and there's still a lot to do with the marketing and promotion of it," he said.

"I've got nothing else planned but I'll take an interest in the game for sure, and what's happening around the world. As far as being physically and emotionally involved as I have been for so long, perhaps I can sit back and enjoy it a little more without pressures."

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