International cricket’s most prolific run-scorer, India legend Sachin Tendulkar, has ironically said ball dominating bat is the future of Test cricket.
Tendulkar scored 100 international centuries (51 in Tests, 49 in ODIs) in his record-breaking career, dismantling bowling attacks at will during his illustrious 24-year career.
Scores: India v New Zealand, first Test
But with flat pitches becoming the norm in many countries, bats increasing in size each year and playing arenas shrinking, Tendulkar says cricket, at least in the limited-overs formats, has swung too far in the favour of the batsmen.
Now the ‘Little Master’ wants to see order restored if Test cricket is to survive.
"I think the future of Test cricket has to be a nice balance between bat and ball," Tendulkar told Star Sports India during the first session of the opening Test between India and New Zealand in Kanpur.
"I sometimes see that the balance is not right, it’s too much in favour of batsmen.
"And I feel to be fair in T20 the batters go after the bowlers and 300 is no more a safe total in one-day cricket.
"There has to be a format in cricket where bowlers dominate a bit."
Records indicate Tendulkar’s fear of cricket becoming more and more a batsman’s game is warranted.
In the past three decades, from 1990 to today, the average number of runs per wicket in Test cricket has steadily increased, from 31.64 in the 1990s to 34.17 in the 2000s.
In the six years of the 2010s, the average cost of runs per wicket has slightly dropped to 33.94, but the average runs per over (3.23) is at an all-time high.
In the past decade there have been 18 scores of 400 or more in one-day cricket, with seven of those coming in the past two years.
When Tendulkar posted the first one-day international double-century in February 2010 against South Africa, he set a new benchmark for ODI batting which has been beaten of five occasions since.
While limited-overs cricket, particularly Twenty20 cricket, flourishes, Test cricket is still, at the moment, alive and strong.
The Kanpur Test is India’s 500th in their rich history, dating back to their first Test against England at Lord’s in 1932.
Remarkably, Tendulkar has played in 40 per cent of India’s 500 Tests after he retired from international cricket in November 2013 with a world-record 200 Tests to his name.
The 43-year-old has seen the highs and lows of Indian cricket and says the current crop, under the captaincy of Virat Kohli, can be a Test powerhouse for the next decade.
"I think it’s a fabulous combination that we (India) have and the best part about all these players is that they’re all young, so they’re going to play for a while," Tendulkar said.
"I see this team playing together for 8-10 years and dominating world cricket.
"We have the fire power and the balance is really nice.
"If we continue to stick to these players … obviously there will be a few changes here and there, but if the players are able to keep themselves fit, in good shape and condition, then India cricket has got bright days ahead."