There are often long periods of boredom in five-day cricket

Dear Editor,

When the self-identified so-called leadership group of Australians found it difficult to remove South African batsmen, (who, by the way, except De Villiers are, like the Australians except Smith, of average ability) on the third day of the Capetown five-day match, they decided to cheat by tampering with the ball. Frankly I would prefer the team I support to lose every match rather than cheat. Even the nature of cheating in cricket is something of an absurdity. These Australians have brought disgrace to the game. Severe penalties are required.

The hard truth about 5 day cricket is that there are often long periods either of boredom or of a sense of hopelessness on the part of one team when its only hope is a declaration by the team dominating at the point in time. I had the good fortune of being at the Antigua recreation ground when the world record for the most runs by a batsman in one innings of the longest form of the game, was set. If the batsman were not a West Indian and indeed someone as stylish as Brian Lara it would have been somewhat boring. If the game of cricket had been started as a one-day game the odds are high that a longer version would not have been invented, and it is not disputed that the shorter versions of the game were invented because the 5 day game was considered to be overly long. A commentator to one of my letters to your paper pointed to the likelihood of there being many fans who have never seen an entire 5 day match; and yet time and again administrators and commentators refer to the longest form of the game as the ‘ultimate’ form of cricket and treat the shorter forms of the game as if they belong to a lower category. Could the reader imagine how long the qualifying matches just completed in Zimbabwe would have taken if they were Test matches. There would probably never be 5 day cricket matches at the World Cup or the Olympics; not because there is anything wrong with the longest form of the game, but simply because it is so long.

We must recognise the inherent value in the shorter forms of the game, which by imposing time limits, require players to develop the skills necessary for achieving goals within imposed deadlines. Since these limited over games attract many more fans and therefore generate more revenue they would contribute to the preservation of the longest form of the game. When it is recognised that 50 over and 20 over cricket are merely shorter versions of the same game, the ICC and all cricket countries would see the need to synchronise schedules, so that all cricketers could earn high incomes and still represent their countries. Perhaps that would put an end also to this nonsensical business of ball tampering, and other absurdities that diminish this great game.

Yours faithfully,

Romain Pitt

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