Bengaluru: Former England captain Kevin Pietersen on Tuesday suggested various methods like day-night Tests, equal pay, marketing and innovation, and cheaper tickets to reinvigorate Test cricket.
Speaking at the 6th MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture, the 37-year-old, who also became the first non-Indian cricketer to deliver the lecture, insisted on making the five-day format the pinnacle of cricket but argued that every format must be respected.
“Having played every form of cricket in every corner of the cricketing globe, I remain 100 per cent convinced that the five-day Test remains the supreme form of the game,” the 37-year-old said.
Also praising the shortest format of the game, Pietersen said: “20-20 provides the thrill, the noise, the speed and — no little genius — it has taken fielding to a new level and has redefined batting.”
However, with the longest form of the game witnessing a drop in popularity, worrying cricketing boards and Test fans, the right-hander came up with some ideas to keep the format breathing.
“Let’s make Test cricket a spectacle. Garnish it with colour and fireworks. Fill the grounds. Play in the evenings. Give the umpires microphones to broadcast to the spectators,” Pietersen proposed.
“Allow sledging — as long as it remains the right side of the line. Communicate better with the fans,” he added.
Besides the technicalities, Pietersen also touched on the financial aspects to highlight how the Test format could be repackaged.
“Let’s throw equal marketing clout behind the Test game before we succumb to the lazy assumption that 20-20 rules,” the former cricketer proposed, beside backing the idea of a World Test Championship and providing cheaper tickets.
“Push the profile of the world Test championship. Develop marketing opportunities. Offer cheaper seats in the ground to provide a better spectacle for TV viewers,” Pietersen recommended.
He also backed handsome pay for cricketers featuring in the five-day games, which would give them financial security.
“Ensure that they [cricketers] are paid as well over five days as they are over five hours of 20-20 cricket. You can’t blame a player for seeking financial security through his or her sporting talent,” Pietersen, who featured in 104 Tests for England, said.
The former dasher didn’t forget to wish luck to the Afghanistan team, who are all set to debut in the longest format of the game against India on Thursday.
“The squad, the management, and all those who helped you get here, you guys are sitting on the very edge of history. The doom mongers say this is a dying form of the game, but you have it within your grasp to keep it alive. You are representing a population of 36 million people,” he said.
“Your country has scaled the ladder across the shorter forms of the game but this is bigger and better,” he added.
“The headline writers around the globe are waiting! You are changing the perception of your country that has been in the news for the wrong reasons for far too long.”