BCCI players’ body urges Sourav Ganguly to say no to 4-day Tests

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Mumbai: The president of the Indian Cricketers’ Association (ICA), the newly formed players’ body of the BCCI, Ashok Malhotra, urged board president Sourav Ganguly to vote against ICC’s proposed four-day Tests and protect the format in its current form.

He echoed the view of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association (FICA), which on Wednesday said players are unlikely to embrace four-day Tests until administrators clarify how they plan to utilise the calendar space freed up by the move. FICA, which has players from England, Australia and South Africa as members among others, fears the new gaps in the calendar could well be filled with more cricket. “We have begun to get more results on the fifth day. Now, we also have pink-ball cricket that brings in the crowds. So why do you want to make a drastic change? Are you trying to open up the scheduling window, to accommodate more T20 cricket,” Malhotra said.

The ICA, however, is not part of FICA. And both FICA and ICA would not be party to the final decision. But they intend to push the argument in public discourse.

FICA executive chairman Tony Irish in a statement outlined the negative sentiment among players at large, and asked the four-day Test backers at ICC and individual boards to explain the economic and scheduling benefits. “It is particularly important for us, and the players, to understand how any additional calendar space in the playing schedule would be used. Making a fundamental change simply in order to provide calendar space to fill with additional or meaningless cricket is clearly not something we can support.

Cricket’s global structure desperately needs clarity, rather than further confusion,” Irish’s statement said. “Until such a time as we and the players are provided with the full picture and compelling reasons for change, we remain supportive of 5-day Test cricket, and would expect significant player resistance if a shift to that is imposed on players by the ICC and/or Boards.”

The four-day Test proposal will first be taken up by the ICC cricket committee led by Anil Kumble. The committee’s recommendations will then be placed before the ICC board. Other than the politics of scheduling, Malhotra fears the Test specialists’ value will go down further if the format shrinks. “Spare a thought for a Joe Root or a Cheteshwar Pujara. You will then begin to question their place in four-day cricket and they will be phased out,” he said.

In an all out defense of five-day cricket, Malhotra made little of the argument that enterprising declarations would ensure results in four-day Tests. “Declarations will be in the hands of the captain and coach. ICC can’t dictate terms with captains to start declarations to produce results. There will be more draws, it will be the last nail in the coffin of Tests,” Malhotra said.

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