The impact of T20 has been very significant on Long format game in recent years and this is going to be even more going forward.
The most affected among the lot are:-
1. Openers & No.3 - Successful openers and Top 3 in short format find it very difficult to make the change and be successful at test level.
Martin Guptil, Rohit, KL, Roy, Finch, Shikhar to name a few.
2. Spinners – While spinners who can turn the ball both ways and difficult to read are ruling the roost in short format (esp T20) , in Test it is the spinners who are very consistent and bowl long spells having guile succeed .
Top T20 bowlers Rashid, KuldepYadav,Zampa, Mujib, Naraine to name a few.
Thus it is apparent only a very few from the above category who make a big name in short format will make it good in tests going forward. It would be more of an exception. Even now only Virat, Warner and Babar have conquered and are successful in all formats among batsmen and among spinners no one is a success at test level.
Why Short Format stars at top 3 positions fail in Long Format: Main reasons
1. Technique - In short format batsmen rely on power game more and less on technique. The stance, grip and everything is primed to go hard at the ball and generate maximum power . Hardly very few wait for the ball and play late. When ball swings & seams that technique will not allow them to survive for long.
2. Balls used: - The Dukes, SG balls used in tests swings & seams more and for longer period than the white ball.
3. Pitches: - Of late all Test pitches are more sporting and more conducive to pace bowling. Hence unless top 3 have a good technique to survive or they make change in their batting technique to counter a more seeming/swinging ball, they will not succeed.
4. Little time to make adjustments – most of batsmen who do well in short format are also included in Test team . Thus they will have to play short format games and within couple of days they will have to play tests. There is hardly any time to adjust their techniques to Test match.
By the looks of it , it seems to me openers will have a tough time to succeed in test format more & more as we move forward .
May be we as fans re align our expectations , cricketers themselves & selectors should look at this reality and may make suitable changes like players should decide which format they should focus on , selectors should have clear direction as to who they think should play in Tests and who should be part of short Format and selections should be made accordingly .
Selection criteria:- Once selectors acknowledge that very few of short format top order players will make it good as Test openers , that would make them do better selections.
- they should only persist with only a few of the short format openers in Tests if the guy has a decent technique and has shown capacity to tweak his technique and shows promise .
- No blind selection for test team as opener in the hope that he will come good in test too just like in short format.
- Evaluate if such a player could be a better fit in middle order in Tests rather than Opener. One can get best out of a player by being open to such a plan.( Eg: KL)
- A clear segregation of players who can fit into Tests and short format and follow that in selection of teams by selectors.
- Success of a test match player in 50 over may be more than a in T20 . So a test player can be a member of 50 overs.
- A short format star player may be considered for 50 overs but not in tests.
When selections are done on above basis, it will result in a team where majority of the players more suitable to that format in the team and only a few deserving exceptional players make it in both formats -overall leading to better selection of teams.
Looks like England seem to have moved in that direction, now most of the new members of Test team like Burns, Crawley, Ollie Pope, Leach are only in Test Format.
Indian Players – Where they may fit well.
1. Rohit, Dhawan :- Should be treated only for shorter format but should not be part of tests.
2. Shaw – Can be persisted as opener in Tests for some time and see if he is able to make the adjustments required. ( Of late my expectation from him in tests is lowered). But can be good bet for T20 & 50 overs straightaway.
3. KL Rahul – Looks like a place in the middle order could be better option in Tests rather than Test opener. Chances of coming good at 5 or 6 would be higher. But can be tried as opener for some time and see the results.
4. Gill - Looks like a better fit in Tests and 50 overs. If he plays more of T20, we may lose a good talent at test level. Better not to include him T20 team.
5. Shreyas Iyer – Suitable for Short format.
6. Samson - Shortest format .
To me, selectors should be really looking for pure openers suited for Tests only. Players among Panchal, Easwaran or even Jaiswal or some other long format openers should o be made to play in A teams and should be considered for test.
Selection of Spin Bowlers: -
Spin bowlers are another set who find it difficult to make transition from Short Format to Longer format. Success in short format is based on mistiming and getting caught or stumped if batsmen is not able to make out which way ball turns as he has no luxury of watching and defending.
For longer format a spinner has to bowl consistently at one place and with guile and make batsmen to commit mistake while in short format batsmen is bound to make more mistakes - more mystery balls , better the results in shorter format.
Captains will do well to pick those mystery kind of bowlers of T20 in 50 overs game and make them bowl in phases where batsmen are bound go after them . So a spell in Power plays or a phase where opposition has to go after blowers would give best results.
India may find a big void once Ashwin & Jaddu fade as there are not many who have come up in long format. Only Nadeem has the credentials who has gone through the grind. Most of the youngsters seem more suitable for shorter format than Tests. Kuldeep Yadav if he focuses more on test match bowling may make it but fingers crossed.
Selection of pacers: - Feel this tribe have it little easy compared to spinners or openers. Even in shorter format pacers have become more attacking. They try to swing /seam initially, Use lot more short balls, even Yorkers to dismiss batsmen . There are the very skills needed in Tests also .
Only the death bowling skills will have to developed in addition the above to be good at shorter format. But bowlers should be clear as to their objective for short format and longer format .
For longer format you have to be consistently consistent ( consistent line & length around off stump & outside with movement and wait for mistake from batsmen + some short stuff and Yorkers) and for short format one needs to be consistently inconsistent (i.e. different variety of deliveries – slow ball , Yorker , Bouncer , Back of Length , cutters bowled with control) .
Thus a test format Pacer should be able to :-
1. Bowl at least 16-18 overs per day with same intensity & pace .
2. Should be 140+ pacer if he relies more on seam movement.
3. Can get extra lift.
4. Has a good bouncer.
5. Even a 135+ bowler should be considered if he can swing the new ball and can also seam it with older ball or reverse swing it and can bowl 15-18 overs per day.
A successful Test pacer can make it to short format also if he has good death bowling skills.
As of now see only Saini & Siraj as potential Test pacers .
Long absence from live Cricket and a dive down of past matches made me think about Cricket with a different perspective due to this Corona pandemic.
I am now more objective and realistic about my expectations from some of the current players like KL , Shaw , Gill etc and see their selection in various format from that perspective . No more i expect KL , Shaw to be automatic choices for Tests nor I expect them be big success in Tests straightway. The reason being their technique has under gone change in the quest to adapt to shorter format and it is very difficult to succeed in Tests with that mindset and technique unless they find a way to make adjustments needed for Tests . They may only succeed in pitches with very less movement.
Similarly I am now not disappointed if Gill is not selected in T20 , as I feel that will do more harm to him than good .
Well this is all my individual opinion, need not match with the others.
Anyway felt like posting after a long time .