I’ll be honest, I had never heard of the Bradman Oration until about a week ago when Channel Nine tried to sell me some tickets to it during the second Test. (And even then I wasn’t paying a lot of attention because it was about the tenth thing Channel Nine had hawked during the short series.) I didn’t buy the tickets they had and I was not sufficiently impressed to try to find any live stream. I’m kind of ruing that though. Rahul Dravid may not have quite matched Kumar Sangakkara at Lord’s last year, but he gave a very impressive speech.
The full text is well worth a read, but amongst other things he expressed his concerns about the future of Test cricket. He made the point that whilst Test cricket will always be the format by which cricketers are judged the lack of attendance will likely translate into poorer television veiwership and that the administrators ought to take greater care in ensuring that people are able and encouraged to watch matches. In particular he advocated day/night Test matches. It’s an idea about which I’ve been ambivalent in the past. Instinctively I don’t like it; I think that the change in conditions as night falls is too great. Also, it has been suggested that the pink ball does not swing, though I’m not sure how true that is. Most of all though, I am a traditionalist and simply don’t like the notion. I also accept the logic of playing D/N Tests though, and that is why I am still ambivalent about it. The logistical problems are not fatal, and they would certainly be adapted to. If it is what needs to happen to ensure crowds around the world than so be it, though I hope it does not happen in England where the crowds come anyway. I accept that to survive Test cricket may have to change somewhat, although I do not like the idea.
I wholeheartedly agree with Dravid’s suggestion that the international fixtures need revising though. No one except the administrators like a seven ODI series and a two Test series. It’s been a problem for ODIs for some time that bilateral series are effectively meaningless. It’s fun if India play Pakistan, as there is a rivalry there and the fans in those countries tend to prefer ODIs, but apart from that there is not a lot of draw. The results from a bilateral series affect the world ODI rankings, but since those don’t affect the World Cup they are not particularly relevant. Few would claim that Australia are the rightful fifty over World Champions because they top the ICC ODI rankings, but that is the only affect bilateral ODI series have. There is never a need to play seven irrelevant ODIs. There is seldom a need to play even five ODIs, in my opinion. I would prefer to see three match series with the remaining time freed up for a Test match. If boards are going to persist with long series (and I suspect that they are) the ICC need to make sure they have some sort of context, ideally by making qualification for the World Cup dependent on ranking. If only the top three or four teams automatically qualified for the World Cup and the rest had to play knockout matches against lesser nations it would give context to the bilateral series in the same way a Test Championship would give context to Test series.
It is very nice to see another current Test player so clearly and eloquently express the need for a better balance between the formats. With the weight of players fans and others in the media who have been making similar statements I am optimistic that the administrators may come around at some point.