Plenty has already been said about what can be done to Test cricket to ensure its survival, but has it already died? Are we just playing long-form ODIs and Twenty20s in whites and creams?
There have been myriad other examples over recent decades of the traditional form of the game’s decline - evaporating or non-existent crowds among them - but could the most critical form of its demise be actually festering out on the field?
Once upon a time cricketers knew they had five days to see a Test match out, and stretched their tactics and efforts across the working week accordingly. These days, though, players don’t seem interested in that last day, or even perhaps most of the fourth.
One particular instance caught the eye yesterday. With the South Africans in deep trouble early, having lost several wickets for not many, the tourists managed to recover quite well in the end, having reached 223 for the loss of seven. Quinton de Kock was in the 80s and looking good for an unlikely century considering where the Saffers sat after the first hour of the day.
Sometime around lunch, South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj (pictured above) tried to hoist spinner Nathan Lyon out of the stadium, but was caught in the deep at long-on by David Warner. Maharaj is on his Test debut. By all reports the 26-year-old is the first specialist spinner to open his Test career at the WACA. Pretty scary and brave stuff. And he’s no rabbit with the bat, either. In almost 60 Twenty20s he’s averaged about 20 at a strike rate of 124.
Even though his Test experience added up to all of a couple of minutes, it made you wonder: what exactly was the rush yesterday? The match had only just reached the end of morning one of day one in a three-Test series. Time, for one rare moment in this scary, ruthless modern world of ours, wasn’t of the essence. There was plenty of it for Maharaj to solidify his already handy 16-run start, which he’d scored from just 18 deliveries.
Maharaj isn’t a Test batsman, and neither are a lot of other batsmen currently batting in Tests. These are young men - boasting plenty of limited … limited-overs experience - who are in a hurry. They’re playing IN Test cricket, but not PLAYING Test cricket.
Slow down, everyone. There’s plenty of time …