Cricket players unwilling to endorse four-day Tests

England player Ben Stokes after the Second Test between South Africa and England at Newlands (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) said yesterday that its players are unwilling to endorse plans by the International Cricket Council to trim five-day tests down to four, until the governing body reveals how it plans to use the calendar space freed up by the change.

The ICC has proposed the change to ease congestion in the international calendar and reduce player workload. FICA, the global umbrella group for players’ representative organisations with members from England, Australia and South Africa, is concerned that the new gaps in the calendar would just be filled with more cricket.

With an increasing number of test matches ending before the five days are up, FICA is concerned that administrators are keen to free up space for more lucrative shorter-form matches.

FICA said in a statement: “From our discussions with players around the world, and our global survey data, it is clear that there is currently a lot of negative sentiment, within the global collective of players, towards such a significant change to the game’s most traditional format.

“Given the obvious cricketing implications, if the ICC and/or Boards do want to make a broader case for four-day test cricket, we would need to clearly understand what both the economic and scheduling benefits would be, so we can discuss that with players and gauge genuine collective feedback.

“It is particularly important for us, and the players, to understand how any additional calendar space in the playing schedule would be used.

“Making a fundamental change simply in order to provide calendar space to fill with additional or meaningless cricket is clearly not something we can support. Cricket’s global structure desperately needs clarity, rather than further confusion.”

Four-day matches were approved by the ICC in 2017 when South Africa hosted Zimbabwe, and England have since played one against Ireland.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has said it will support four-day matches after 2023, while Cricket Australia is giving serious consideration to the ICC proposal. Cricket South Africa said in a statement recently that “its official policy is to support four-day Test Cricket”. The Board for Control for Cricket in India has yet to offer an opinion.