If you have been watching Test cricket for a while now then you must have noticed that why does it take so long to play test cricket and why top cricketers like Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar or Ricky pointing, always believe test cricket to be the best format of the game where as ODI and T20 are less time consuming and more entertaining.
If you have been asking all these questions to yourself then believe me you are not alone and I have been there too, I have been both watching, playing and following cricket since a couple of years now and from my overall experience in cricket I have explained all the points required to understand why does it take test cricket so long and why it is best.
This is the most comprehensive guide regarding this topic you can find online.
So without further ADO let’s dive right into the article.
Why test cricket is so slow, difficult but best?
To summarise in few words,
test cricket is best format of the game because it tests the character, mindset and fitness of the players, test cricket is slow because it is played for over 5 days long and each team has to play 2 innings so the batsman has to show their patience and determination in the game and
the red ball offers more swing and seam for the fast bowlers as compared to white ball, batsman cannot take many risks in Test cricket compared to limited-overs of the game because of many overs in test match and there is test championship tournament so winning every test matches for teams will give them more points and more chances to play in the final and win the test championship.
Because of all the above points test match is so difficult and time consuming but it is the best format and if you want to checkout more information in detail then read the article through.
So let’s take a look at all the reasons why test cricket is so difficult in detail.
The game is played for 5 days
This is one of the main reasons why test cricket is very difficult and takes so long.
Unlike other sports like football basketball rugby badminton and other outdoor games, cricket is one such game and test cricket especially which is the only game on the planet which will be played over five days long.
ODI match is played within 1 day and T20 match will usually end in less than 6 hours but test match will take 5 days of time to end usually.
This is one of the primary reasons why test cricket is so difficult to play and not every cricketers can become a test cricket player because it requires a different type of skill set and mindset altogether compared to limited-overs formats of the game.
It is very important to know that it is not completely required to play 5 days of test cricket consecutively the match can end in 4 or even 3 days also, but it all depends on how the batting and bowling order of 2 teams perform on that day and many other external factors which we will discuss later in this article.
Test cricket requires high discipline and fitness
Another thing about test cricket which differentiates itself from other formats of the game is that test cricket requires high amount of discipline and fitness levels because as a batsmen or bowler, you will be playing atleast 2 days of cricket.
There is no place for indiscipline and weak, the very name of the format is called test cricket and it tests your skills, patience, mindset, fitness, and perseverance
For example let’s consider you are a fast bowler of any country, let’s assume of newzealand, normally most test teams would pick 3 or 4 bowlers and a couple of spinners, in such a case, if your team won the toss and elected to bowl first then as a fast bowler you will have to bowl atleast 15-20 overs in the first day and if your team has not taken all the wickets of the opponent team, you will have to wake up next time and repeat your job and bowl next 10 overs atleast.
The number of overs you bowl as a bowler will depend upon conditions of the pitch, your past records over the opponent batsmen, how many bowlers are picked for the match in your team and strategy of your captain.
But it is not just confined to that, the next thing is more important
Both teams will have to play 2 innings each
This is a huge thing with test cricket
Both teams of the match will have to play 2 innings each in the match.
What do I mean by this?
Well, let’s consider there are two cricket teams X and y which are playing test cricket and x team has won the toss and elected to bat first then team y has to start bowling, take all the 10 wickets of team x and there is no limit of overs now, but after 90 overs are bowled, the day will come to an end or since the game starts from 9 am to 5 pm and game will come to end if it gets delayed due to rain, low light, and
next day morning the game resumes, and if the team y has taken all the ten wickets of the opponent team x, then team y will start batting and team x will bowl and after the team y will get bowled out, again team x starts batting and team Y bowls and
score the runs and after scoring good amount of runs or team x may declares the innings then team y will have to start batting and chase the target & score 1 run more from the opponent team within the 5 days of the match to win the match.
Both as a batsmen and bowler, it can be physically and mentally challenging because you will have to play many overs Both as a batsmen and bowler in the match, it can be physically and mentally challenging for example
as an opening batsman in test cricket you have to play at least 30 to 40 overs and if the wickets continuously fall down from the other side then you will have to play a more than 200 balls and hold your wicket, score runs and take your team to a respectable and challenging score.
This is something which makes test cricket more difficult.
Specialized players play in test cricket
Another thing about test match is that the players who are picked in test matches are highly specialised and highly talented in there area of expertise.
There are many cricket players who only play test match and do not play Other formats of the game which show that there are many highly specialised players in playing that form of the game for example Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane two players who only play test cricket from Indian team.
And apart from that the fast bowlers who will be picked for test matches are highly specialised.
For example if you are cricketer playing in Ranji trophy or any County cricket and you have been picked in test side of your country then obviously with growing levels of the game, the quality of the players will also grow and you will have to face more top bowlers as compared to the previous ones.
As a batsmen from County cricket and switching to test cricket, you will face some tough cricketers like jasprit bumrah, Mark wood, jofra Archer, Mohammad Shami, James Anderson and Stuart broad, Mitchell starc and pat Cummins, Ravichandran Ashwin and Nathan lyon,
kagiso rabada, etc who are the best fast and spin bowlers at the international cricket and facing these world class bowlers and spinners who have years of experience, knowledge and specialization on their skill is not a piece of cake and it can become a nightmare for many County cricketers who don’t adapt with increasing difficulty of the game.
As a County cricket batsmen you might have only faced fast bowlers who can only bowl at a speed of less than 130 km per hour but when you get into test cricket at international stage, you will face bowlers who are capable of bowling more than 150 km and
also reach up to 155 km per hour with different deliveries like bouncers, beamers, Yorkers, inswing and outswing balls, and many more types of deliveries which will be hard to play.
Red ball offers more Swing and seam for bowlers as compared to white ball
Another important thing about test match is that red ball is used.
You might be wondering what is so special about red ball but the speciality is that it offers more Swing, seam and help for the bowlers for longer periods of time and it can be more helpful for fast bowlers compared to white ball which is used in limited overs of the game.
Because of this reason you might have seen that many fielders will stand in the slips when fast bowlers bowl in Test cricket and they do it in order to catch the ball when the ball takes the edge of the bat in test and there will be bunch of slips for spinners as well as shown in the image below.
Apart from offering more Swing and seam for fast bowlers, red ball takes long time & more overs to get deteriorated and bad and it is also that most test matches are played in daylight conditions, the red ball is highly visible for players like batsman when
batting but because ODI and T20 matches are played in day&night matches so white ball will be used because it is more visible in dark conditions because of the colour of ball.
Pitch behaves different in test match
Another thing about test cricket is that cricket pitch will behave differently as the game continues.
It is important to know that, test cricket will be played for 5 days consecutively and any cricket pitch which is fresh, green and helpful for bowlers, and offers swing or bounce can totally change because
batsmen continuously run on the cricket pitch, hit the pitch with bats, scratch the pitch with spikes of shoes of cricketers, and
due to constant contact of ball with the cricket pitch, also if the weather is hot, pitch will slowly get deteriorated, dry up, all the cracks on the pitch open up and offer more spin and it becomes very normal to see any cricket pitch which offered high swing, bounce and seam in day 1 of the match
to change significantly and offer no swing, seam, bounce, for fast bowlers & more help for spinners in day 3 because the pitch gets deteriorated.
Because of this it becomes hard for the batsman to adapt and play according to the wicket conditions and not every cricket player can adapt to the changing condition which makes test cricket difficult to play.
If we compare this with limited overs matches like ODI and T20, ODI which is a 50 overs match will complete in less than 10 hours and T20 match will end in 5 hours so pitch won’t get deteriorated much fast and it
becomes easy for batsman to score more runs and provide entertainment for the audience and they are day and night matches so the pitch may not get damaged compared to test pitch but because test match is played for over 5 days on the same cricket pitch it will get damaged longer and difficult to play as the game moves.
Conditions of a test match is different
Another thing about test match is that the conditions can be different when you play both home and away series.
For example if you are a batsman from India then because you have been playing on Indian pitches since a long time now but when you go on away series and play against England in England then the English conditions are different from Indian conditions because
the pitches in England offer a lot more swing and seem and have more overcast conditions which can help fast bowlers and it makes batting much more harder because the batsman cannot play the ball on the line as it can take the edge off the bat and get caught at the slips.
And if you are top class spinner in your own home country like India then it becomes hard for you to take wickets in countries like England and foreign countries because of pitch conditions are not spin friendly for example Ravichandran Ashwin is a top class off spinner of Indian team who has taken more than 430 wickets out of 72 matches he played but
he has taken more than 300 wickets in home series alone because Indian pitches are spin friendly & Ashwin has been playing on these pitches since a long time but when it comes to away series, Ashwin does not take a lot of wickets and has a mediocre records because foreign country pitches are not always spin friendly and is not suitable to Ashwin skills.
And apart from different conditions even when test series happen between two teams like ashes between England and Australia because of the test championship, players will play half of the series away and other half at their home,
since we have taken the example of ashes series which is a 5 match series between England and Australia and each test match will run 5 days long and there will be at least 3 to 4 days gap between each test match so the ashes Test series will run for at least one month of time and
staying away from home & families for such a long period and apart from playing test many players also play a limited overs matches in the series which can create a lot of homesickness feeling for the players and playing cricket in unfavourable conditions in away series
can create a lot of problems because of changing weather, environment, people and pitch conditions, many players can get in injuries during the series which is also one reason for why test cricket is so difficult.
Batting is more tough in test cricket
Another thing about test cricket is that batting in test match is more difficult compared to ODI and T20 because in test match the game will be played for 5 days and each day atleast 90 overs of the match will be played.
But in Limited overs matches like ODI and T20 because the game ends in one day and the match has Limited overs of 50 and 20 the batsman can take more risks and play their cricketing shots more freely because of pressure upon the batsman but in Test cricket the opposite is true.
Usually when a player and batsmen plays in Test cricket they will have less pressure of scoring runs but more pressure of holding their wicket and standing on the crease for longer period
if they stand on crease and defend for at least 15 to 20 overs continuously against the top bowlers of opponent team then when the bowlers will become tired of bowling and their spell ends, the ball will get damaged and soft then batsmen can capitalise on the loose balls and score runs.
But the main problem is when you will be defending your wicket, taking less risks and scoring runs against the top bowlers and this is where test cricket is best because it will reveal the true personality, character, attitude, determination and confidence of the batsman.
It is important to know that each team has to play two innings each in any test match and there will be many circumstances like the top order batsmen of the opponent team will fall quickly and
the lower order batsman will struggle a lot by playing dozens of overs defending their wicket and scoring a few runs in first innings which can help them build some respectable score and help them when they play second innings.
And with the test championship that has started in the recent years, it has made all the test matches that the team plays at both home and away series more important because when the team wins any test match then they will get some points and with more points the team can get higher into the points table and
get a chance to play in the final of test championship and win the test world Cup and in order to get more points, the team has to win more matches and in order to do so, the team has to hold and protect their wicket and score as many runs as possible in the first innings
because as the match continues the cricket pitch will become more harder for batsman to bat and score runs and obviously the batsman and players will be more tired of playing because they have been playing the game since last 3 days continuously.
So overall, batting in test match is much more harder because the batsman not only has to protect their wicket and play more deliveries and also scored more runs which can help them in the second innings which is a lot more to tough because Batsman has to take less risks compared to limited overs matches where the batsman can take more risks and play freely.
With that said let’s conclude the blog.
I hope all the points I mentioned in this article made sense for you and help you understand why test cricket take so long and difficult format of the game but is by far the best format of cricket so far.
Do comment down what are your thoughts about this test cricket format in the comment section below.
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