ICC could approve an experimental four-day match between South Africa and Zimbabwe

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ICC could approve an experimental four-day match between South Africa and Zimbabwe

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SportsCafe Desk

09/23/2017

ICC is likely to approve Cricket South Africa’s request of playing a four-day Test match with Zimbabwe on the Boxing Day on a ‘trial’ basis. The four-day format, which was suggested to help ease the perennial scheduling problem across all cricketing countries, has divided the cricket committees.

India’s tour of South Africa, which is now scheduled to start from January 5th, was originally scheduled to begin on December 26th by CSA. However, with India travelling to South Africa after playing back-to-back series against Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka at home, BCCI had asked for some time to recuperate for the players.

Cricket South Africa, consequently, had requested for a four-day Test match with Zimbabwe from 26 December in their endeavour to squeeze in a game so that they don’t miss out on their traditional Boxing Day game.

With new floodlights installed at Port Elizabeth, CSA's chief executive officer Haroon Lorgat has asked for a day-night fixture that would run for four days so that the players stay fresh for their first Test match against India, which will start almost a week later. Though ICC will take a decision after their board meeting in Auckland in October, reports say they are likely to give the plan the nod, but it will strictly be on an experimental basis.

Four-day Tests have had their fair share of denigrators and advocates at the top level as it is seen by some as an effective solution to not only make Test games more viable and attractive in a Twenty20 age, but also help cricket boards with their biggest problem at the moment, scheduling full tours at home and away.

With domestic T20 tournaments gaining much more popularity, hardly any side is able to get the desired overseas experience at the moment. India’s tour of South Africa would be a prime example, where the committees finally decided to shorten the Test series from four to three games and play an extra sixth ODI instead. CSA is under pressure to finish the series by March when they welcome Australia.

ICC's Cricket Committee, which is entrusted with keeping the sport relevant, has clearly voted against it. However, while the committee chaired by former India captain Anil Kumble, had opposed the idea in 2015, the ICC Chief Executives' Committee (CEC) and the top brass of the ICC management voted in favour.

Inside sources revealed that the support for four-day Test cricket was growing, albeit alongside "considerable reluctance from traditionalists". Among the ones championing the cause are Lorgat and ECB chief executive Tom Harrison, who feel that the cricketing fraternity would need to adapt to the changing demands of the consumer.

However, while there are supporters of the new format, an annual survey conducted by the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations found out that the players were dead against it.

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