I don’t remember a time when I was not fascinated by Test cricket. Cricket in it’s other forms, yes – vacillating when it came to One Day Internationals, a resolute no when it came to 20-20s. But a test match played between 2 of the best internationally matched teams ? An unhesitating yes.
The most visualising aspect regarding the longer format is a perfect competition between the bat and the ball. Both the batsman and bowler try to outdo each other. It’s basically a test of patience, physical strength and mental stability.
Imagine time travelling to the 16th century and picture yourself as one who wore white clothes and playing a game using a red cherry and wooden timber. Yes, the origin of cricket traces way back to that period where white people used to play the game in their leisure time.
No one then would have ever thought that this game will come so far, that it would evolve from timeless Test matches to T20 cricket, successfully completing close to 143 years of its official existence. The action in coloured clothes might be exciting, but its Test Cricket that still fascinates one and all.
When it comes to batting in Test match conditions this quote by the legendary Sunil Gavaskar is very appropriate as far as batting in Test Cricket is concerned. “Give the first hour to the bowlers and the next five hours will be yours” – It requires immense levels of concentration, determination, patience, passion and temperament.” You have to play each ball according to its merit and there are no easy runs. With a sporting pitch, good bowlers, long boundaries and no field restrictions and the numbers of overs a bowler can bowl, it is the ultimate test of your character as a batsman. The next major challenge for a Test batsman is to be able to bat in all conditions and against diverse bowling attacks. Thus, all these qualities make a good Test batsman, a class apart as compared to those in limited overs cricket where the conditions are tailor-made for batting.
As far as bowling is concerned ‘Who says Cricket is a batsman’s game? You can’t win a Test match unless you take those 20 wickets.’ The above sentence itself describes the importance of a bowling unit in Test match cricket. Four slips, Two gullies, a short leg and a silly point. With a skilful pacer steaming in while the batsman pushes and prods nervously. The sight of a bowler, a quick or a spinner, terrorising the batsman is something that generations of cricket lovers have savoured. Yes, we love to see a batsman flamboyantly driving the ball to the cover boundary. But the delight is multiplied when it is against such attacking bowling and fielding. short, Test cricket provides room for a thrilling clash between the personas of batsman and bowler.
The main challenge for the bowler is to keep himself fit, energetic and enthusiastic as he has to bowl long spells. Test cricket is all about bowling long spells and giving your 100% everytime. In Test Cricket you have to keep looking for taking wickets all the time.
Captaincy is 90% luck & 10% skill but never ever try it, if you don’t have that 10% skill,” the quote by Richie Benaud says it all. Captaincy in Test cricket is challenging because a captain must be proactive with his decisions on and off the field which leave a long-lasting impact, going beyond the five days of action. You can’t play a waiting game for too long as a captain. As a leader of the team, you must make things happen. Many a time, after long hours out on the field, fielders start dropping their shoulders and a captain, in such a scenario, should inspire his team-mates and rejuvenate them.
The other major factor that players have to come across in a Test match is mental ability. In this regard, the support staff plays an important role. Playing for five days on the trot drains you physically as well as mentally and one should be strong in both aspects to deliver the goods.
Thus, as a Test cricketer, mental toughness is what you must possess most to become successful.
Finally, from my perspective, Test cricket resembles life. There will be ups and downs throughout the course of life and Test cricket offers various challenges at different instants of time throughout the course of five days.
I feel ‘test cricket’ and ‘life’ have some common factors. Test cricket is not just a game. You win, you lose, you settle for a draw, that one ends and another ‘Test’ begins as fresh as the previous one.
Every match feels like a new one. New condition, different pitches which have no comparison with the previous ones. Every player has to rethink his strategy. Opposition comes with different tactics.
Similarly in life, you will get problems, you solve, you fail, or you compromise; next day you have fresh, new problem which you have never experienced. You have to approach each problem in different way.
Like in test cricket you get second opportunity in life, but not favourable as first one. Perseverance, hard work, smart work, endurance, acceptance of conditions, will power to not give up, calmness etc. can be observed in test cricket. Which are also necessary qualities for a successful life.
Test cricket defeats the impositions of the day- time, money, spectacle. it keeps the special special. Not every match has a result. Not every result is exciting. Boundaries are not guaranteed. Nor are runs. Wickets may not fall. Not every match reaches an edge-of-the-seat climax. Some just wither away pathetically. Dreariness claims its assigned place in our lives. Entertainment is not granted status as a fundamental right.
Who says Test Cricket is on the death bed? In recent months we’ve seen the revival of Test cricket and India vs England, The Ashes have been a sublime proof of the same. Test cricket is not much appreciated by youngsters in today’s day, but the charm that it holds is beyond words.