Five-day Tests at the Lord

ECB pushing for four-day Tests: reports

The radical move might upset traditionalists but it has the backing of a former Australia captain

The 2019 Ashes could be the last time five-day Tests are played in England if the England and Wales Cricket Board gets its way, according to reports.

The Telegraph UK is reporting the ECB is campaigning for the introduction of four day Tests and is said to be backed by home broadcasters and venues.

A move to four-day Tests would see matches be played from Thursday to Sunday, with the start time pushed back to 10.30am and floodlights used to extend play where possible to fit in the extra overs.

South Africa this week announced plans to host a four-day day-night Test against Zimbabwe in Port Elizabeth, starting on Boxing Day. 

But as it stands the International Cricket Council (ICC) is yet to approve the fixture and grant it official Test status.

That could change next month at the ICC board meeting in New Zealand, where the ECB will push for four-day Tests, according to The Telegraph’s sources. 

While the move would be sure to shock traditionalists, former Australia captain Mark Taylor proposed the idea in November last year.

"The numbers around the world going to watch the game are dying in some countries," Taylor told SEN Breakfast radio.

"But that’s why we have to have things like day-night Tests and start thinking more seriously about four-day Tests. It will only add to the appeal of the game and like all games, make it a bit shorter and a bit faster. That’s what people of this generation want to see."

Analysis of the finish times of Tests over the past 40 years has revealed only 58 per cent of Test matches since 2000 make it to the fifth day, compared to 67 per cent in the 1990s and 77 per cent in the 1980s. 

However, out of six Tests in Australia last summer, four matches went the distance, including two epic finishes in Brisbane and Melbourne. 

But Taylor is confident Test captains will change their approach to avoid draws and said the move to four days is ideal in regards to scheduling. 

"You do have one less day to win or lose a game so it does force captains to be a little bit more aggressive in their thinking," Taylor said.

"I also think it sits very well with the calendar because you can play Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You have your Test match finishing on a Sunday rather than sometimes on a Monday or Tuesday which happens in the schedule now.

"Then you get your three days break which players seem to like between Test matches and you can start another one on the next Thursday. It actually fits into the week very well.

"What we are trying to do is still appeal to those traditionalists like me who love their Test cricket, but also bring some of these T20 kids and families into the Test matches as well. I’m not sure that five day Tests will appeal to them."