In an attempt to secure the future of Test cricket, former India captain Rahul Dravid has suggested the introduction of day-night matches using pink balls. He compared the game's longest format with the 'trunk of a tree' and suggested that it provided players with the grounding needed to prosper in the newer, shorter versions.
"We are, I believe, maybe one generation away from reaching the point where our entire youth system could cater only to Twenty20 cricket without any emphasis on the longer form of the game. By not giving youngsters a chance to explore their versatility, endurance or even improvisational skills, we will be selling ourselves and our sport well short," said Dravid, speaking at an event organized by ESPNCricinfo here on Monday.
The batting great also suggested certain measures to reignite interest in Test cricket.
"If that means reworking how first-class and Test players can be out on more lucrative contracts, let's get the accountants on this.
"If it means playing day-night cricket, we must give it a try, keep an open mind. The game's traditions aren't under threat if we play Test cricket under lights. I know there have been concerns about the durability of the pink ball, but I have had some experience of it having played for the MCC, and it seemed to hold up okay," said Dravid.
"Test cricket, an older, larger entity is the trunk of a tree and the shorter game -- be it T20 or ODIs -- are its branches, its offshoots," he added. "Now to be fair, it is the branches that carry the fruit, earn the benefits of the larger garden in which they stand and so catch the eye. The trunk, though, is the old, massive, larger thing which took a very long time to reach height and bulk. But it is actually a life source: chip away at the trunk or cut it down and the branches will fall off, the fruit will dry up," explained Dravid.
"While Test cricket has proved its resilience over a century and is a tough old dog, it has reached a fairly critical point in its history."
The 40-year-old said that the rigors cricketers faced in the longer version helped them understand the basics of the game.
"The fundamental core of every cricketer's game is enriched by playing four and five-day cricket. By using those well-trained powers of adaptability, discipline, resilience and focus as a T20 cricketer, you will have double the advantage than the player possessed only of talent and timing.
"The skill of learning how to think clearly under pressure is required in T20, but it is built through having to endure pressure for a session, two sessions, an entire day, a series of spells," he said.
Dravid also stressed the importance of a stable itinerary, to achieve a balance between cricket's three formats.
"We can start by sorting out the scheduling around Test cricket, to ensure that teams can complete their home-and-away cycles against each other over a four-year period. This will mean balancing and creating context for all the three formats."