Sri Lankan plight opens fresh case for two-tier Test cricket
By Atreyo Mukhopadhyay | Express News Service | Published: 14th August 2017 07:43 AM |
CHENNAI: Barring a miracle of the magnitude of Eden 2001, the Indian cricket team will on Monday complete a first ever whitewash on foreign soil, where the series have consisted of a minimum of three Tests. The coach will herald the arrival of a generation that believes in ruthless cricket, the captain might say how this mindset will be important in tougher conditions.
All of that will have some substance, irrespective of the quality of opposition. A team can only do its best against whoever it comes up against and Virat Kohli’s boys couldn’t have done better than dominating the hosts in all but two sessions so far before wrapping things up by huge margins. A few more starts could have been converted, but other than those who missed out, most will take the results and the way they came.
Somewhat quietly yet unmistakably, this series raises a question. It’s over the future of Test cricket and what such one-sided contests do to it. Calls have been made in the International Crickety Council to introduce a two-tier system with relegation and promotion, which have been blocked by a few national boards, including the BCCI. With competitive Test cricket getting restricted to a handful of nations, Sri
Lanka’s state does little to justify claims that this is the highest form of the game. With the West Indies showing little interest in the longest format, Zimbabwe out of the equation, Bangladesh and New Zealand not doing well outside home confines, Sri Lanka’s degeneration plunges Test cricket into crisis. Given that Pakistan is in a state of flux, the game can’t afford to look forward to a future featuring only India, Australia, England and South Africa.
“It’s good to see our team win an away series so convincingly, for it will give them confidence ahead of other tours. But it’s difficult to overlook that the Sri Lankans are not in good shape. With the West Indies also on the decline for a while now, it will probably make sense to have two divisions in Test cricket. While I like the supremacy of the Indian team, it isn’t great to see contests below the expected standards,” former India captain Ajit Wadekar told Express.
Surprise 3-0 winners over Australia at home last year, Sri Lankans have been found wanting in Test match temperament against India, other than showing a dearth of quality in key departments. This has been most visible in their batting and fast bowling units. On pitches the visitors have made 500 or thereabouts, they have not lasted even 50 overs in the first innings of the second and third Tests.
“You sense some sort of an inferiority complex in this present Sri Lankan bunch. They used to be fine players in their own conditions, but now you can see that they are perhaps a bit overawed in the presence of the big brothers. Cricket after a point is a psychological game and that’s where this team seems to have conceded a few points,” said Wadekar, the first India captain to win Test series in the West Indies and England.