Just because the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been a huge hit both in India and in South Africa cricket experts should not read too much into it and start writing obituaries of test cricket.
This is like the age old debate of form and content. Cricket is the content and tests, one day internationals (ODIs) and T20 are only the forms. One cannot totally replace the other. As long as the content remains forms are bound to exist.
Cricket is also like Indian music. Test cricket spread unsuccessful team in ipl over possible five days may be compared to the expanded rhythm pattern adopted in a vilambit khayal where you are slowly and steadily taken into the innermost charms of a raga of Indian Classical Music. ODIs are like light classical compositions where faster rhythm pattern gives you quicker results. T20 is simple light music where booming rhythm gives you instant gratification.
There is another striking similarity between Indian classical music and cricket. Artistes trained in the classical tradition can fit into any form of music as they have learned the basics exhaustively. When we take into account the cases of Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman, Jacques Kallis and many other test players who had successfully adopted the T20 format we confront the obvious ‘test cricketers fit into any form as they have learned the basics exhaustively’.
It is neither the conflict between purists and modernists. We cannot expect all to love all forms. Articles or books are written for the targeted readers, movies are made for the targeted viewers and paintings are made for the supposedly connoisseur admirers. Further, as long as the ‘content’ remains cricket is bound to produce riveting and suspenseful moments irrespective of the ‘forms’. We remember the evergreen tests since the last more than hundred years; we relish the nail biting test finishes and the rare ‘tied’ tests and the Ashes series between England and Australia is always eagerly awaited. Similarly all ODIs are never interesting and one sided IPL matches are big bores.