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One Test Match doesn’t make a Summer

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What is the ICC’s policy towards women’s test cricket? Does it have one?

Every cricketing trend tilts away from this highest form of the game. After the introduction of matches lasting 240 deliveries, now we await the launch of the 200-delivery version. When will 200 prove too long?

Just before England and India cross swords in that rarest of species, the 4-day game, we must face some of the obstacles to its progress.

In a game that is constantly short of finance women’s international teams have little chance of experiencing the game at its highest level. Comments on recent tests underline the shortcomings: players unused to their extreme demands (ask the other England team!); unresponsive pitches, out-of-the-way venues (Wormsley); a giant leap from 1-day cricket to 4-day; a lack of practice in this format; a points system that didn’t worked out as desired.

A multi-points format was introduced in 2013 to overcome the limit of a single test within a series. With six points on offer for a test win tactics became far too defensive; a loss would make it much harder to claw back a win in the T20s and ODIs. An adjustment to 4 points for a test win and two for each of the other games was an improvement, but the danger of negativity still hovers.

When Lisa Keightley says limited-overs is still the best way to grow the game, we can see the scale of the problem.

What have we been missing?

A red ball – a test match is the only opportunity for players to meet the red ball, which was once the only colour on offer. The manufacturers tell us how hard it is to perfect a ball in a new colour (white, pink, and…?) without losing some of its basic characteristics. They all change: the speed with which a ball softens, the shine disappears, the seam alters. It’s a question of varnish.

Players in white.

Batters enjoying two innings in a match.

Fielders inside 20 yards from the bat – how much close-catching practice have they had before starting their test-match prep?

Bowlers allowed more than 60 deliveries in a day.

White sightscreens.

The basic paint-box of cricket: green grass, red ball, white attire and screens and blue sky (24° forecast!)