Former Australia skipper Ian Chappell believes Test cricket is better off having countries with strong infrastructure for first-class cricket and also, have a culture for playing the format, which is lacking in nations like Afghanistan and Ireland.
“Test cricket is a tough but rewarding game and players deserve the opportunity to participate in the format if that is their choice. However, Tests are also steeped in culture and that requires the countries involved to have a strong first-class infrastructure.”
“Not many teams have or can afford to build such infrastructure, as it costs money rather than bringing a return on investment. T20 leagues, which produce a healthy return, are much more acceptable to administrators.”
“Consequently, it makes no sense to reward Afghanistan and Ireland, two recent recipients of Test status, neither of whom have the grounds or the infrastructure to reasonably expect that status. Sadly, Test status is best confined to the eight nations who have had a long-standing culture of the format,” wrote Chappell in his column for ESPNCricinfo on Sunday.
Ireland and Afghanistan were awarded Test status in 2018 after playing the ICC Intercontinental Cup, the second-tier competition in first-class cricket, for almost a decade. Ireland won that competition four times, while Afghanistan emerged as winners twice.
While Ireland are yet to play a home Test as all their three matches have come away from home, Afghanistan will have the chance to do so by hosting longer format matches at their new home venue in the UAE, adding more to their six Test appearances.
Chappell does not want to take the opportunity to play Test cricket completely from cricketers in Ireland and Afghanistan. Instead, he suggests that there should be teams made of players from nations who are willing to play Test cricket and don’t have the longer format status.
“If there is still a desire to spread Test cricket’s reach, some thought could be given to eventually including combination teams composed of interested players who represent non-Test status teams.”
“Teams should still have to fulfil infrastructure and financial requirements to qualify for Test status. This would require a second-tier competition, where teams that perform well could state their case for Test status qualification.”
Chappell also praised England Test skipper Ben Stokes for raising the profile of the format high with his team’s ultra-attacking style of play since June this year. “Stokes has decreed that England players bat freely, but he also has fans anticipating something akin to a T20 run rate in the five-day format. This massive change of approach has come at a time when Test cricket, like the 50-over game, is suffering at the hands of the junior format.”