The Hack: Is Test cricket losing its lustre?

By now the cricketing world is well aware that the Proteas were dethroned from their status as the world’s number one Test playing nation.

They dropped a further place this week into third as Australia assumed the mantle after their series victory over New Zealand, a sad ending to Black Caps stalwart Brendon McCallum’s international career.

Would you like to know how much Test cricket highest-ranked side in the world is playing between now and the end of the year? The answer is none.

Which begs the question once again, is cricket’s longest format becoming redundant?

A look at the international schedule for the next few months tells that that it probably is with only 10 Test matches taking place before the end of this year.

England, who lowered the Proteas’ colours last month, will host seven of those while South Africa will host three. Makes you think doesn’t it.

The British will host Sri Lanka for a three Test series and then Pakistan will visit for four matches.

The Proteas welcome New Zealand, at the back end of winter which says something about how desperate it’s becoming to find a gap for Test cricket, and then will play a solitary Test against Sri Lanka before the end of the year. They’ll play two more in January.

The ICC World T20 is coming up which explains the glut of short format cricket now with the Asia Cup, England’s tour to South Africa and Australia’s arrival on our shores next week but is the slap bang stuff taking over the game?

You only have to look at the proliferation of the various T20 leagues to say yes.

There’s also the amount of one day international cricket to consider to drive the purists, who thrive on the five day format, nuts.

Before the end of the year the Proteas will play six limited overs games on a tour of West Indies, in a triangular series against Australia, one solitary fixture against Ireland and then five more games against Australia when they visit here in October?

Surely one or two Test matches wouldn’t have gone amiss during their visit, especially as the Proteas need to claw their way back to the top of the Test cricket rankings?

Does it boil down to economics? I’d hazard a guess and say that it’s probably a lot cheaper to host a one of game at a venue than to sustain a match, and interest, for five days. After all it’s sell-outs the powers that be are after.

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