With England, New Zealand, WI and South Africa doing well on foreign soil and the news of retirements , both announced ones and expected to be announced ones, Test cricket has once again found a lot of mention in the sports columns these days. Still , the advent of fast cricket has spell doom for this long format. The recent cosmetic recommendations by the top body haven’t done anything great to revive it. I was able to find quite a few rules present in other more internationally acclaimed sports which if applied here, with a few adjustments, might help sustain interest in test cricket.
A football team can replace upto 3 players in the playing 11 in the second half. This helps the team to change its composition in view of the changing dynamics of the match. It can be adopted in test cricket too, with each team having opportunity to replace , say 2 players in second innings i.e. before the 3rd innings of the match. But a batsman can be replaced only by a bowler and vice-versa. A player who struggled in the first set of innings cannot be replaced by another player with a similar ‘job profile’ i.e. bat/bowl in the last 2 innings.All rounders and wicket-keepers cannot be replaced. We can add a few twists also: If a team that conceded lead in the first innings opts for a replacement, then the other team which took the lead can then ask any one of the remaining 10 players of the other team also to be replaced , albeit with a few restrictions. Also teams often deploy substitutes during fielding to replace slow moving fielders. Such temporary replacements only for fielding purposes should not be allowed. Substitutions , just like in football, can only be permanent for that game.At the same time care needs to be taken not to make the replacement rules too complicated or provide teams with loop holes to exploit the situation.
Umpire decision review
Only GOD and ICC can tell why is DRS not used much. If the big daddy BCCI is opposed to it , let them be; Remember they were opposing T20 cricket also once upon a time… Here we can take a cue from tennis. After scores are leveled at 6-6 games all in the final set , the number of reviews get reset to 3 per player. Similarly here for a team that manages to bat beyond 90 overs, the number of reviews can be reset to 3. On the other hand the team which manages to bowl out the opponent in less than a fixed number of overs , say 60 in 1 innings, can be granted an additional review in any one of the remaining innings.
A player found guilty of any offence can be given a ‘yellow card’ or ‘red card’ based on the seriousness of the offence. A batsman or a bowler with a ‘yellow card’ cannot play in that second innings in which his team bats or bowls respectively. A second yellow card means game over for him. A red-carded player cannot play in any of the next innings. The concerned team can then field only 10 players for the remaining innings. For a team as a whole, we can also have rules similar to that in Formula 1 wherein an offender is given a 20-second penalty. Here the team can be deducted 20 runs in the next innings it bats or the opposition team is granted 20 additional runs in the innings in which offending team bowls. The penalty for an offence in the second innings can be carried forward to the next test match. In this way all the team members are penalised and not just the team’s captain.
The aim is to make the rules of test cricket somewhat different from other fast modes of cricket so that there is some renewed interest in watching the otherwise long and boring form of cricket.