The Hack: Test cricket under threat

The height of optimism?

A cricket writer getting time off during the festive season when the national side is involved in a Test series.

But the way things are going with cricket’s longest format perhaps cricket writers the world over will be absolved from any responsibility when it comes to filling pages with content. At least if the current trends continue.

This week journalists finally had a chance to get some face time with AB de Villiers and tried to pry a definitive answer on his future in the wake of speculation that he was getting ready to call time on his career.

The timing of the news could have been a bit better given that it broke on the morning of the Boxing Day Test, the first day of the four match series, but it is something that needs to be addressed. Especially when you consider that De Villiers is a front runner to become the full-time Test captain.

But who could blamed one of cricket’s superstars for weighing up his options when he’s probably got a pile of contracts sitting on his desk at home all offering bundles of money to go and play in any one of the T20 leagues that seem to be dominating world cricket nowadays.

It’s been apparent throughout the ongoing Big Bash that the tournament has been able to draw in bumper crowds. Their attendance figures have outweighed those for any of the days of cricket involving the Australian and West Indies side in their three-Test series.

Heck, there was a day at the Gabba where the attendance for a Big Bash match was more than that of a day between Australia and the Windies and the Proteas against England combined.

And when the current rate of exchange is factored in, players like De Villiers are being offered life changing sums of money. What would you do if you were offered $1-million at a rate of 17-1?

One of the most likeable of characters in cricket, Sir Michael Holding, touched on the retirement of another one of cricket’s big names during his time working on the South Africa v England series and the fact that just because he’d retired didn’t necessarily mean he was walking away from cricket.

Brendon McCullum is due to call time on his international career next month but at the age of 34 is still likely to turn out in any number of the lucrative leagues. IPL? Ka-ching. CPLT20? Ka-ching.

Test cricket, still considered to be the purest form of the game, is under threat and needs to find some context and fast. It doesn’t help that teams just play to be the number one ranked side in the world. There’s still a need to incorporate some sort of Test Championship.

It’s no secret that De Villiers longs to win a World Cup, perhaps a Test trophy is the next best thing.

If it continues like this it may mean that myself and cricket writing colleagues will be resigned to covering T20 games for the rest of our careers. Guess that would mean working half-day.

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