Inzamam ul Haq has struck a blow for traditionalists in warning administrators not to promote T20 cricket and other short forms of the game at the expense of Test matches.
The former Pakistan captain has counselled those in charge of the game, such as the ICC, BCCI and the ECB, whose delayed Hundred competition is due to get under way in July, that if they show a preference for white-ball cricket it will influence young players as they come through the system.
The 51-year-old, talking on his own YouTube channel, said: “The focus, currently, is mainly on T20 cricket. It goes for all the teams and players. Yes, I understand that T20 cricket is entertaining and people enjoy watching the format but the real beauty lies in Test matches, wherein you find out the quality of a batsman. So that should be surely be maintained.”
He argued that it was not necessary to boost the popularity of one format at the expense of another – as England have been accused of doing in allowing some of their leading players to skip Test matches to play in the IPL.
“One thing should not be pushed down to bring the other up,” he said. “Test cricket should remain as it is and you can always bring the standards of T20 cricket up simultaneously.
“But don’t end Test cricket and replace it with T20 cricket. If this happens, it will be unfair to both the sport and the players because if the boards devote more focus to T20 cricket over Tests, then the players will also follow the same path.
“Moreover, even the youngsters and the next crop of cricketers will also start focusing more on T20 cricket from the start.”
Inzamam, who is the third highest scorer of Test runs for his country with 8,829, added that it was a dangerous approach to reduce the number of Test matches in favour of more white-ball cricket.
“It shouldn’t be the case that you are reducing a three-match series to two Tests and increasing a three-match T20I series to five,” he said. “The board shouldn’t send out a message that players should play in T20 cricket and that T20 is of prime importance to us.”
Inzamam, who led his country in 31 Tests and 87 ODIs, and the one T20I that he played in, against England in 2006, may have been alarmed at the break-down of the recently announced Pakistan tour to the West Indies. Pakistan will play two Tests in Jamaica after a five-match T20 series in Barbados and Guyana in a packed West Indies summer when the host nation will stage no less than 15 T20Is as they gear up for the World T20 Cup, but only four Tests.