What Grass-Roots Cricket Coaches Can do to Save Test Cricket | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

What Grass-Roots Cricket Coaches Can do to Save Test Cricket

How, as coaches, do we keep promoting the virtues of the ultimate format, Test cricket?

ODI and T20 cricket are both brilliant formats that have helped to develop broader interest levels in cricket across the globe whilst opening our eyes to advancements in fielding techniques, batting options and athleticism.

Test match cricket is a very different game to watch now because of the shorter formats and that's a good thing.

However, the challenge for me is to keep India interested in playing longer format cricket. The dominant Indian performances in the ODI series against England are a stark contrast to the pitiful 3 day capitulations that we saw at the back end of the Test matches.

This has nothing to do with ability, as the Indians have excellent players within their Test Team. To me it comes down to the attitude that the BCCI and has towards Tests. This rubs off on the player development system and, most importantly, upon the players.

We all know that if India lose interest in Test Match cricket, then the format will start a rapid slide into extinction.

So what's the solution?


2 day cricket

I encourage clubs all over the world to ask their local rival to play one 2 day, 4 innings match per year at under 16 level. This will act a as an introduction to the longer game and to expose young players to different pressures, strategies and methods that would normally be untapped.

  • Limit the 1st innings to 65 overs where there will be an automatic declaration unless the side have declare previously or been bowled out.
  • Whichever team scores the most runs in the first innings will be deemed the winner (winning on 1st innings) unless the lower scoring side can secure an outright win over the 2 days.

It's a format that works in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa yet foreign to many in the UK and in the sub-continent.

What does this format give you that others don't?

  • The ability to bat long and to bowl more spells in a given day.
  • Spinners are bought into play in a different way. The game becomes more about taking wickets than solely containing the run rate.
  • Captains learn how to manage spin bowlers more effectively.
  • Changing pitch conditions (especially if the match takes place over 2 weekends)
  • Captaincy development, particularly in field placings, reading the ebbs and flows of the game and creating wicket taking opportunity.
  • The opportunity to be losing the game on 1st innings to then choose to take some strategic risks in order to force a momentum shift that reverses the initial result.
  • To create pressure on batters by having catchers around the bat. This in turn presents a different challenge for the batter and skills are developed at an accelerated rate.

There are many other benefits which then can also start to change the way that we may look at the way that we play the shorter formats too.

If we play 10 T20 matches and 18 50 over matches in a season, why couldn't we adjust that schedule slightly to incorporate a two-day game?

If we are truly passionate about the pinnacle of cricket, then we need to take measures to educate the young players that it is a great format and expose them to its virtues at an appropriate age.

That way, the future adult players and spectators will gain a keener insight into longer format cricket. The National Governing Bodies will take heed and Test cricket will continue to survive and thrive way beyond our time on the planet.

Develop players whilst preserving the "Ultimate Test". I lay down my challenge to all youth team coaches. Sacrifice 2 shorter format games per year for one 2 day game.

I assure your that the results will astound you.

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Love it. Its a format we are thinking of trying to do once a year with our senior team actually. Something like 80 overs per day over Saturday and Sunday.

My challenge to the idea is this: Is one game enough? Players will not develop much by playing a single match then going back to T20, so will a single two day game provide any kind of bridge or is it not enough?

My carmarthenshire u14 team played a 2 day 2 innings match against a team in Surrey last week. All players enjoyed the format once they understood it was not an overs game. Opportunities for all players to play and perform. Went down to last hour of second innings when we needed to get another 6 wickets. Failed to get final 2 so was an exciting draw. Players really appreciated this format as discussed in post match reflection and requested more of this format next year

It's an interesting idea.

Perhaps more appropriate to representative cricket (District and above), where everyone has a specific role to fulfil, rather than Club juniors where, typically, 5 or 6 players bat and bowl and the rest fill in?

And probably during school holidays, mid-week, so the games do not clash with senior (weekend) matches and with existing County rep and age-group competitions, and hence can be played on better grounds.

But definitely worth trying, if only to introduce the young players to "proper" cricket...

I used to love the "all day" matches we played on Bank Holiday weekends - after stoppages for lunch and tea (and we did take out time!), there was often only one more hour of playing time than a regular Saturday afternoon game, but that extra hour gave a very different perspective to the game.

ECB fast bowling directives at U16 would restrict some of the bowling options, today, but not so drastically in a 65-over innings. It would certainly give the young seamer a rare opportunity to actually bowl a proper second spell in a day, which probably does not happen often when they start playing in senior cricket. And the spinners should also get a proper bowl, even when they are not taking wickets, if only to rest the seamers.

Final thought - many Clubs won't have a coach or senior player with experience of two-day games...who could advise the players?

I am in Australia and we play predominately 2 day cricket at district and sub-district level on alternative weekends of 70 overs a side. Personally I don't like 20/20 cricket and the 35 over a side one day games. There is never enough time in the game to play naturally and give yourself time especially if you bat down the order and you always feel rushed to get on with it. This leads to players not having the right mental strength to play longer form games and lack the technique to defend and leave the good balls outside off-stump. These shorter forms of cricket also discourage bowlers from being attacking especially fast bowlers where edges fly through vacant slip cordons to the boundary. The 50/50 cricket at club level is a good alternative as there is enough time in the game for batsman to get set and there is also an incentive for bowlers to attack to knock teams over before the 50 overs. The only drawback is that it can make for a longer day...

we (punjab cricket assosiation mohali)already foiiowing this format. and its really working for us.

im agree with u dear . how can u make changes in younger players by providing them a single game a year.they should play it regularlly