Good evening ladies, gentlemen and cricket tragics, it's good to be here at The Oval, the venue of what I would like to think of one my most notable achievements as an Indian cricketer. I'm not referring to the unforgettable 12 runs off 96 balls over two hours and 20 minutes in 2007.
We are living in an age of short attention spans, instant gratification and the expectation that we will get all the answers to all the questions in 140 characters. If the Twitter generation had to appropriately respond to the claim of this event - Why T20 needs Test cricket - they would probably say: #YCBS - You Cannot Be Serious.
Test cricket faces some very searching questions. Not about its relevance in the fabric of the game, but about viability and sustainability in a world that moves at high speed and seeks more - more thrills, more entertainment, more results, more solutions.
T20 has brought greater numbers through the gates and increased ticket sales. All of this is good. More cricketers have a chance to make a living from the sport, the audience numbers are up, T20 is perhaps the most reliable source for increased revenues all around.
As the ICC has increased the number of T20 Internationals that countries can play against each other, the number of two-Test series are becoming more common, which I would rather not happen at all because they are a nothingness of a nothing.
Last year, South Africa’s traditional Boxing Day Test was replaced by a T20 International. Sri Lanka and WI called off a scheduled Test series earlier this year so that their players did not miss too much of the early weeks of IPL. Now there is a commercial rationale behind these decisions, if this were to turn into a habit whenever there is a scheduling overlap, cricket would suffer.
The less Test cricket is played, the greater the gap in its standards as we are now beginning to witness around the world. It is almost as if there are two divisions of Test-playing nations.
Gary Kirsten always said to me that Test cricket was a multi-dimensional church - it gave everyone a chance to bring out their best. — Source/Espn Cricinfo