CRICKET: Australian cricket great Dean Jones predicts a grim future for Test cricket if the powers that be do not make changes to encourage fans back to the game.
"If it continues down the path it is on now, Test cricket will be dead in seven to 10 years,” he told Australian Regional Media.
Jones, a star in Test cricket and the one-day game in the 1980s and 1990s and who scored 7427 runs for Australia in 52 Tests, was a kid when World Series Cricket threatened to tear the game apart worldwide.
The game came to a crossroads then and Jones - who now commentates for Macquarie Radio, Star Sports on TV in India and is coach of Pakistan Super League team Islamabad United - said the long format of the game was in big trouble.
"I think it's even more desperate than that (World Series Cricket),” Jones said.
"The bottom line is that if Asia doesn't like it then Test cricket's finished.
"Don't worry about what we are doing here.
"People say 'I don't care what Asia says' - I get that from our fans.
"The bottom line is we already got it when the West Indies sent over a very average team and their six best players played in the BBL.
"So they are preferring to play T20 instead of Test cricket.
"Is that what we want?”
One of the changes Jones is calling for to help the longer format of the game survive is to make it a four-day contest instead of five.
He also said players should be the best-off financially.
"The players playing Test cricket - our premium product as far as I am concerned - should be paid the best money and they're not,” Jones said.
"I know that for a fact as coach of Islamabad United and in other leagues that the T20 players are getting the best bucks instead of the Test players and I don't think that's right.”
Jones believes an international championship is needed to save the Test format.
"I think cricket needs to have a world Test championship and that needs to happen as soon as possible,” he said.
"I have sources - I call them bat-pads - and they whispered to me the Future Tours Program in 2019 will not be going ahead after the World Cup.
"So it's up to countries to do whatever they want, so that tells me maybe they have a Test championship in progress.
"I wrote in a column for Fairfax, and I am not saying that it's the be all and end all, but at least it's an idea of having a world Test championship and it can be played in under 50 days.
"But the Test match has got to be four days.
"We need to be more entertaining and give a little bit more for the fans and that is what its all about.”
Pink-ball cricket: 'Suck it up and let's get on with it'
DEAN Jones says pink-ball cricket is here to stay and it is now time for all involved to accept it.
"I think it's here to stay but it's in patches,” Jones said.
"Typically cricketers are normally very conservative and sometimes very negative and I hear it from our guys 'it (the ball) moves around at dinner time at sunset'.
"I heard that shit and honestly it is shit.
"When I started playing one-day cricket in the 1980s people said there's a big problem - the first 10 overs, the sun and all that: get over it, really suck it up and let's get on with it because we need to have this because if you want to earn a $1 million-plus a year you need to play. If not, shut up.”
Jones said a lot had changed in the international game and people had to move with the times.
"Let's be honest, every law in this game has changed except one since the inception of the game and that's the length of the pitch,” he said.
"We used to have timeless Tests before the Second World War and after that Australia played New Zealand and they were only three-day Test matches and everyone forgets that.
"The fact is everything changes and we have to move on.”
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