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Wisden Almanack 2024

The 2024 Wisden Almanack calls for four-day Tests to end ‘miserable phenomenon’ of two-match series

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

The 2024 edition of the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack has called for Test matches to be reduced to four-days in countries outside of India, Australia and England.

Two-Test series are increasingly becoming the norm, with all of New Zealand’s four series in 2023 limited to two Tests. Already in 2024, India have completed a two-match series in South Africa, West Indies have contested one in Australia, and South Africa and Australia have both played two-Test series in New Zealand.

Restricting Test series to two games has repeatedly come under criticism as its become more regular. Following last year’s Ashes series, Australia men’s head coach Andrew McDonald called for Test series to be ring-fenced to a minimum of three matches as a requirement to play in the World Test Championship in order to show the importance of Test cricket. Former India opener Akaash Chopra criticised the decision to limit India’s series in South Africa to two Tests, labelling the decision ‘a travesty’.

Then South Africa Test captain Dean Elgar also lamented the limited opportunities two-Test series bring. “I think (it’s a) disappointing fact that we aren’t playing more Tests these coming years and obviously there’s a lot of players that would like to be playing a lot more,” said Elgar. “Again, we can’t make those decisions. It would be nice if we could have a massive influence in that. But, yeah, I guess the administrators of the game back home feel that we need to obviously establish something in order to have revenue going forward.”

Now, the 2024 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack has joined the chorus of voices to criticise two-Test series. In the ‘Notes By The Editor’ section, written by Wisden editor Lawrence Booth, reducing Tests to four days was suggested as a way to avoid two-Test series and satisfy the financial constraints of those nations outside of the ‘Big Three’.

“Of the 34 Tests completed within 2023, only four reached a fifth day without intervention by rain,” wrote Booth. “Nine more had no need of a fourth. Since one of the concerns of the less well-off nations – everyone bar India, England and Australia – is the cost of staging a Test, might it be time to take the pragmatic view, and limit games in those countries to four days?

“They could be played between Friday and Monday, all but guaranteeing a full weekend of cricket for spectators, and might even encourage bolder strokeplay. Rather than setting aside ten days for two games, home boards might be persuaded to stretch to 12 for three – putting an end to the miserable phenomenon of the two-match series. A fifth day could be reserved in case an entire day is lost to rain. Test cricket has always had to adapt, and there’s no shame in that.”

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