A bleak picture for Test cricket, exacerbated by pandemic-created chaos: Chappell

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell believes that Test cricket is in a bleak state due to the chaos created by the COVID-19 pandemic. He also pointed out that the new entrants of Test cricket, Afghanistan and Ireland, have played just one match against India and England respectively while Australia are yet to play a Test against them.

“It’s a bleak picture for Test cricket, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic-created chaos. A quick glance at the Test history of the two latest recruits adds to the gloomy picture. Both Afghanistan and Ireland were elevated to Test status in 2017. Since then, they’ve played six and three matches respectively,” wrote Chappell in his column for ESPNCricinfo on Sunday.

“India have played one Test with Afghanistan and England a solitary game against Ireland. Australia — following the postponement of their scheduled Test against Afghanistan — are still yet to play either of the new entrants,” added Chappell.

Chappell remarked about the winter tours which happened in international cricket before the advent of T20 leagues. “Australia’s treatment of young Test-playing countries is not great — just ask New Zealand — and that won’t improve, now that winter tours are unlikely to happen. In July 2003, Australia played two Tests against Bangladesh at home; one in Darwin and the other in Cairns. This was before the IPL and myriad other T20 franchise competitions had popped up like daisies in spring.”

Chappell further spoke about the consideration of the health of players in planning international schedule.

“Not only is the crowded schedule a disincentive for traditional Test-playing countries to schedule matches against the tyros, there’s also the players’ health to be considered. Players are now — as they should be — less reluctant to speak out and act on mental health issues. This is going to be critical in future planning.

“Not only do administrators need to give serious thought to what for too long has been an absurdly congested schedule but hitting the right balance between financial needs and player welfare will also require some creative thinking.”

The 78-year-old mentioned about creating a draft system to strengthen weaker teams in Test cricket, which could benefit players and teams.

“That could mean introducing a draft system whereby the weaker Test teams can acquire outstanding players from other countries to boost their competitiveness. This could be a way for talented players from outside of the Test-playing nations to experience the thrill of the longer game. The current imbalance between the strong and weak Test-playing countries is another hindrance in promoting the five-day game.

“Creating a balance between the financial rewards of T20 and the need to fully test players in longer contests is a big challenge. The question is, do the administrators have a duty of care to talented kids of the future so they have the opportunity to experience the thrill of Test cricket?” signed off Chappell.