No shortcuts required for test cricket: let it go the full distance

OPINION: Why would any Kiwi cricket fan want to disagree with Trent Boult right now?

The in-form Black Caps "all-rounder" wants test cricket to stay with the traditional five-day format - despite pushes to remove a day's play from the long-form of the game.

The second test in Hamilton between New Zealand and the West Indies may not go the distance - just as the first test failed to threaten the maximum amount of play allowed by ending prematurely on day four.

But just because tests can end early doesn't mean they should.

Live: NZ v Windies - day three
Scorecard: NZ v Windies - day three
Black Caps in control at stumps
Boult is King of the Bunnies
Cracking catch trio at Seddon Park

"In terms of shortening it to let it become more aggressive, I don't think there's any need. There's other formats for that sort of thing."

Bam. In eight words, Boult skittles the stumps of the argument in favour for shortening the international red-ball game.

Have we got so short in our attention span that three hours of Twenty 20 cricket and a day's worth in coloured clothing isn't enough to sate our demands for rapid entertainment which insists on allowing us extra valuable hours to post Instagram pics and "debate" vaccinations on Facebook with the ill-informed and the idiotic?

Boult was asked about the aggressive mindset teams now carry into the test arena - formed clearly in part from a growing diet of T20s and ODIs, with just four home tests for the Black Caps this summer.

The left-arm quick, who has starred with ball and bat in the second test, admitted batsmen from all test nations tended to favour an aggressive approach over crease occupation - particularly if pitches favoured them.

Most of the test wickets do. Not content with having conditions to suit in the shortened formats - to please the fans' desire to see the ball flying into and over the boundary and not into the stumps - batsmen now carry a frightening frown if a pitch even threatens "a little bit of movement". Their preference would be for a track redolent of a particularly soporific sloth at siesta time.

"I love test cricket, so I'd love to see it stay as it always has," Boult said.

"You want to have an even competition or contest between bat and ball.

"There's some good wickets going around at the moment and the balls aren't moving, so that's what I'd love to see [a contest] – I wouldn't want it any shorter to encourage aggression."

No cricket numpty ever bends your ear about the great tests in history that have finished in four days. They rhapsodise instead about the ebbs and flows over five days and the dramatic late day-five finishes - India's comeback triumph at Kolkata in 2001, or Brian Lara leading the Windies to a win over Australia in Barbados in 1999.

We see slashing centuries at astronomical strike-rates in the three-hour bash and in 50 overs a-side clashes. The rare sighting of them in tests can quicken the pulse rate, but give me a gruelling, demanding, testing ton made over three sessions any (five) day(s).

The heart should be pumping at its height on the fifth and final day of a test. I'm like a kid at Christmas time when I wake on the fifth morning of a test and all three results - won, loss, draw - are in play, and you're consulting the rain radar every five minutes. 

The push for four-day tests is being spearheaded by England and has received the backing of former NZ quick bowling legends Sir Richard Hadlee and Shane Bond in recent weeks.

But there was some good news from New Zealand Cricket, with chairman Greg Barclay doubting an ICC cricket committee - featuring a host of top former internationals - would seriously consider a switch in the near future.

"NZC sees merit in playing four-day test matches but we realise there are a number of logistical issues to work through," Barclay said.

"Not least, how do you fit the same amount of cricket into four days in countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan where nightfall can be at quarter to six."

Given how teams currently struggle to meet the the generous bowling over-rate demands, test fans could find themselves even further short-changed over four days - or captains flummoxed as to how to deliver more deliveries.

It seems Ireland, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe will be asked to switch skins - and habitats - from test minnows to test guinea pigs to trial the four-day format.

Best to keep it caged.

 - Stuff