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Thread: In Defence of Two Test Series

  1. #1
    Global Moderator Cabinet96's Avatar
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    In Defence of Two Test Series

    Two test series get a lot of criticism on here and in the media. While I donít think theyíre the ideal length for a series I do think said criticism goes too far, so I wanted to put in some kind of defence for them.

    For a start, in modern times there just isnít always the time for long test series. There are more test sides than ever these days and boards are under pressure to play all 8 or 9 in 4/5 year stretches. The IPL taking a chunk out of the calendar has only exasperated the problem. The natural result is a lot of tours will be less than two months and with international tours also being three formats in the current era, itís sometimes hard to devote a month purely for the test leg of a tour - which is what is reasonably needed for a 3 match or longer series. A lot on here will argue that boards should do away with the limited overs leg of certain tours, but there are massive sections of fans who prefer the shorter formats, and itís important to cater to all types of fans, not just hardcore test ones; both for purposes of fairness and for financial means (a lot of countries are dependent on limited overs money to fund test matches). One solution to this is to do separate test and limited overs tours, which have been done by the likes of India and Australia. I actually quite like it as a solution, but the reality is that doesnít satisfy a lot of people, who simply complain when the ODI leg of the tour comes and there arenít any tests being played. A great examples of this is the India v Australia ODI series of late 2013, which was effectively the ODI leg of the test tour in Feb/March, but sandwiched between two Ashes series it got a lot of hate for being pointless and an unnecessary distraction.

    I also think, on top of the fact theyíre something of a necessity at times, that two test series can actually be really good, and a lot of them end up being better than 4 and 5 match series. Long series sound great in theory, and a good 5 match series will always eclipse a good 2 match series. But I think in reality a lot of long test series end up being disappointing. The logic that sides can adapt to foreign conditions better if given more time and that players can turnaround bad or good form in long series is pretty sound, but we just havenít seen many examples of it in recent series. A number of series have seen sides get ahead early and lead to boring, predictable dead rubber tests later in the series. The Ashes whitewashes, arguably the 2013 Ashes, the 2011 India tour of England and basically every Australia v India series are illustrations of that. Thereís the odd one where the balance fluctuates; the 2009 Ashes, Englandís 11/12 tour of India, Indiaís tour to England two years later, Englandís tour of South Africa in 2009/10, and most obviously the 2005 Ashes, but Iíd say theyíre the exception rather than the rule. Long series have also seemingly rarely helped the likes of India and Australia in adapting to foreign conditions, while weíve seen Sri Lanka and New Zealand fare better and get positive results in two match tours to England. Weíve also seen plenty of examples of players dominating or struggling throughout five match series. Cook in the 10/11 and 13/14 Ashes and Kohli in Indiaís big tours in 2014 are clear instances were a player has either scored heavily from the first test to last or struggled throughout, which can, in all honesty, get pretty boring.

    In contrast, two test series can obviously by design not have any dead rubber games. As a result series have a greater chance of remaining interesting until their conclusion and only ever become inevitable towards the end of the 2nd test, at the earliest. Thereís also rarely issues of repetitiveness when it comes to which players are dominating, simply because they donít have enough innings for it to start feeling like groundhog day. A number of my favourites test series in the last five years have been two match ones; South Africa in India 2010, Australia in South Africa in 2011, England in Sri Lanka 2012, India in NZ in 2014, Sri Lanka in England and NZ, NZ in England 6 months ago, etc. There are plenty of others that I didnít see a lot of which I imagine were similarly good as well.

    Of course, like Iíve said previously, theyíre not perfect. The strengths of longer series and flaws of short ones are well documented and I donít need to tell you them. A perfect series would always be a fluctuating five match one between two sides of similar quality. But Iíve read people who have suggested two match series are completely pointless and worse than nothing, which is quite frankly ridiculous for all the aforementioned reasons.

    In my opinion, the biggest issue with two match series is the unequal handing out of short and long series among the test playing countries. Maybe a Kiwi would say itís easy for me to defend them when theyíre a rarity for England and the norm for NZ. I think in an ideal world the number of two test series wouldnít necessarily reduce, but the burden of playing them would be more equally distributed. More long series for the likes of NZ and SL and more short series for the likes of India and Australia. But I think this particular issue is down more to the politics of world cricket at the moment and the significant, well documented, problems there; which is something different entirely and not something to be held specifically against two match series.

    Anyway, those are just my arguments. Massive tl:dr but I donít care, itís fun to ramble occasionally.
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  2. #2
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    Would prefer 4 day tests and then all series could be 3 as a minimum. (12 playing days not much more than 10 for scheduling).

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    Cricketer Of The Year Black_Warrior's Avatar
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    I can see the merit in your argument. But I do disagree with this bit

    In contrast, two test series can obviously by design not have any dead rubber games. As a result series have a greater chance of remaining interesting until their conclusion and only ever become inevitable towards the end of the 2nd test, at the earliest. Thereís also rarely issues of repetitiveness when it comes to which players are dominating, simply because they donít have enough innings for it to start feeling like groundhog day. A number of my favourites test series in the last five years have been two match ones; South Africa in India 2010, Australia in South Africa in 2011, England in Sri Lanka 2012, India in NZ in 2014, Sri Lanka in England and NZ, NZ in England 6 months ago, etc. There are plenty of others that I didnít see a lot of which I imagine were similarly good as well.
    All those series you mentioned produced excellent but frustrating cricket in the end. The quality of the cricket was so engaging, that it left me unsatisfied that I didn't really get a decent conclusion. It's like watching a great movie with the last act edited out.

    Having said that, I do believe there is a space for 2 match series especially now given that there is a significant gulf between some test sides. I think a 2 match series between closely matched sides like South Africa-Australia playing in conditions that suit both teams (whether home or away) or England-South Africa or Pakistan-New Zealand is insufficient. I think a 3 match or 4 match series (even 5) can really produce high quality cricket. Quite often the scoreline is not always a very good reflection of how engaging the cricket was. Pakistan beat England 3-0 in 2012 but that was hardly a one sided series. There were countless occasions when England were well on top, chasing 140 to win or bundling out Pakistan for 99.

    But yes a 2 match series should definitely be the way to go for the lower ranked teams today - West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

    I don't know why Australia is playing 3 test matches against West Indies this summer and I don't know why South Africa played 3 test matches against West Indies last year.
    We also need to re examine our snobbish (take out Zim and BD) attitude because how people are going justify Warner and Smith's double (possibly triple) centuries against WI this summer and then turn around and say Hayden's 380 against Zimbabwe doesn't count or Azhar's 220 against Bangladesh is meaningless.

    The fact is these teams do need to play test cricket, but they are obviously unable to compete with the rest of the teams, so 2 match series between Australia and West Indies or Australia and Bangladesh. By cutting them short, that could also allow some room for the bigger teams to play WI and Bang and Zim.

    South Africa could have easily played 2 each against WI and BD last summer rather than 3 meaningless tests against WI.
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    2 Test series would've been great for us in South Africa and England


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    Global Moderator Cabinet96's Avatar
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    You had one in South Africa and lost.

    I forgot to add that to the list of good two test series though.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cabinet96 View Post
    You had one in South Africa and lost.

    I forgot to add that to the list of good two test series though.
    heh, I was wondering how come I couldn't recall what happened in the drawn 1st match

  7. #7
    Virat Kohli (c) Jono's Avatar
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    Its a good argument, whether one ultimately agrees or not. Good post cabinet.

    I think I'd say that ultimately, shortening sporting contests (whether it be by number of matches, number of overs, number of minutes etc.) genuinely makes it closer. Whether that makes it better is a different point I guess. There's every chance India get mauled in South Africa in 2012/03 after they lost that second test after almost winning the first which ended as a draw and also the last day collapse in the second test. But when you shorten series they can also just turn on a series of play more-so than any other time. Like its arguably India lost a series in SA because of a 1 hour burst from Steyn which included a very bad decision to give Kohli out when he was in form. Series literally ends there after 2.

    I think 3 is actually the best amount personally. 4 is great as a cricket nut but not really necessary. 5 is like buying those **** off large popcorns at the movies knowing you don't need it but its just awesome having it.
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    Eyes not spreadsheets marc71178's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuller Pilch View Post
    Would prefer 4 day tests and then all series could be 3 as a minimum. (12 playing days not much more than 10 for scheduling).
    Except you also have to factor in an extra break between games of at least 3 days.
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    Since the "tour" as it used to be no longer exists and consists 99% of just International Cricket, it won't be long before a team will drop in and just play a single Test and bugger off. I prefer the old days of a proper tour lasting 5 months (or two and a half months each on a split English summer) and 5 (or 3 Tests). Like a lot of other changes, there is no chance of ever reverting to the "good old days", so we just move with the times.

  10. #10
    Evil Scotsman Furball's Avatar
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    Decent point made by Cabs but I still hate them. They're either played against completely worthless opposition or you want them to go on that little bit longer (see New Zealand in England 2015). No series is long enough if the quality of cricket is high (see England v New Zealand ODI series), but 2 Test series are particularly unsatisfying.
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    Two-test series should be reserved for expected mis-matches e.g. Bangladesh touring most countries, and some WI/NZ sides in the last decade touring places like South Africa, Australia. Otherwise, three tests minimum.

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    International Debutant Immenso's Avatar
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    I despise them.

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend NUFAN's Avatar
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    That Aus Nz 2 match series was ****. Aus deserved to win it but it was just so batter friendly

    Or

    Wow that 3 test match series was great! How good was the final day/night test omg
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  14. #14
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    There is no defence for a 2 test series!

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    Global Moderator Prince EWS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NUFAN View Post
    That Aus Nz 2 match series was ****. Aus deserved to win it but it was just so batter friendly

    Or

    Wow that 3 test match series was great! How good was the final day/night test omg
    I think this is a bit of a silly argument. The Adelaide Test was better because of the conditions; not because it was the third Test of the series.
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