Australia pace legend Glenn McGrath on Thursday termed himself a traditionalist and said he is dead against the idea of shortening the five-day game to a four-day affair as proposed by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The ICC is considering introduction of four-day Tests as part of the World Test Championships from 2023, an idea which was supported by Cricket Australia CEO Kevin Roberts.
McGrath, however, said he is completely against the idea of tinkering with the longer format. “I’m very much a traditionalist. I like the game the way it is,” McGrath, who has taken 563 wickets in 124 Tests, told reporters ahead of the Sydney Test between Australia and New Zealand beginning here on Friday.
“To me five days is very special and I’d hate to see it get any shorter. The introduction of pink Tests, day-night Tests is a great way to continue keeping our game fresh and moving forward. In respects to changing how many days it is played, I’m actually against it. I like the way it is.”
ICC’s proposal to introduce four-day Tests received stiff opposition from leading Australia spinner Nathan Lyon on Wednesday, who termed it “ridiculous”.
Australia chief coach Justin Langer is also not in favour of tinkering with the traditional format. England batsman Jos Buttler, however, feels cricket must be open to change and four-day Tests must be looked at as it could be a way to keep the longer format alive.
While England and Wales Cricket Board has “cautiously” supported the idea, Board of Control for Cricket in India president Sourav Ganguly said it is too early to comment on the matter.
However, Joe Root, the England captain feels it is worth a try. “I do,” he told Sky Sports.
“Whether that’s across the board or can it be flexible, that needs to be seen… We’ve played one against Ireland. I’m sure that pitch would’ve been fit for a three-day game. I think it’s worth giving a trial.
“It might not always make sense for England to play especially if it’s against Australia or some of the bigger sides, but it might draw a bit more interest with some of the countries who struggle to get people in the ground.”
Told by former England captain Nasser Hussain that it may be difficult for spinners if a Test is not played long enough for the pitch to deteriorate, especially outside Asia, Root said: “If you don’t try it you don’t know. You should be open-minded enough to at least try it and see how it goes. I think the most important thing is not making a definitive decision.
“I love playing five days of cricket personally. I think it’s the best format. The extra day, like you say, it really does make (sure), majority of the time, 99 per cent of the time, the best team has won the game.”
Australia captain Tim Paine said: “I think it should be taken into consideration. I think there is some merit on it being in the odd Test like we did with England and Ireland. But I think the big marquee Test series, the Test championship stuff has to stay five days.”