LONDON – Test cricket faces a bleak future with the sport’s administrators failing to control the “runaway weed” of the hugely popular Twenty20 format, former West Indies pace bowler Michael Holding has said.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced its 2018 schedule on Tuesday, and despite seven Tests being included, none of them will take place in June or July, when one-day matches against Australia and India take centre stage.
Holding said it was an example of the five-day format playing second fiddle despite a thrilling second Test between England and the West Indies at Headingley providing five captivating days for large crowds.
“A strong future for Test cricket? I don’t think so,” Holding told Reuters at a Prostate Cancer UK event to raise awareness of the increased risk of prostate cancer in black men.
“No, the administrators keep talking about preserving Test-match cricket, but you name me one thing that they have done to preserve it. Next year (England) are having seven Test matches. Two in May, and none in June and July.
“The best part of the summer will be all rubbish (Twenty20 cricket). I don’t even call that cricket. It’s Barnum and Bailey circus entertainment. Test-match cricket is a test of your ability and your strength of character over an extended period.
“If you go through the short forms of the game, you will see how many bad teams beat the good teams. In Test-match cricket, you hardly ever see a bad team beat a good team.”
Holding, who was part of a great generation for the West Indies when they dominated the game in the 1970s and 1980s, said only a two-division system would work as the International Cricket Council (ICC) looks to expand the number of Test-playing nations.
“There has to be consequence and relevance to Test-match cricket, but it will never happen,” the 63-year-old said.
“Money is all that matters to the administrators. The game doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t get rid of Twenty20, but I would limit it to domestic cricket. The trouble is it’s difficult to change now because it’s like a weed run wild.”