Ricky Ponting plots out a doomsday scenario for the Test format: players will focus on Twenty20 tournaments, abandon Test cricket, and all will be over. He says:
“I gave the Bradman Oration last year and I stated that what I want for the next generation of Australians is to do what I’ve done: play 150 Tests and represent their country for a long time.”
I don’t think Ponting should necessarily worry, though. Think of the three formats of cricket like the three classes on airlines. Some will head to business, some will head to first class, and some will be satisfied with economy. For a long time — to continue with this metaphor — cricket teams only had space for one class, essentially 11, well-worn, and slightly comfortable seats. Now, however, things have opened up: selectors must have at least 25 people on the immediate roster to satisfy all the formats. That means more space for athletes, and more athletes to fill the space, not just the same eleven trying to do everything.
Count, for instance, the number of Indians involved in international cricket now: there are the Test specialists, the one-day ones, and the Twenty20 ones. During the 1990s, it was basically just one side, the one that showed up for Test cricket (with some notable exceptions, like Robin Singh). And I’m sure that’s what will happen as things move forward: you’re going to see different athletes slotted in different sides, with very few — like the captain, for instance — showing in all three. It’s a win-win for all the players currently slogging away in the domestic scene.