Former cricketers keep elaborating on the damage T20 has done to the game while modern day cricketers keep defending it. Statistics over the past six years or since the inaugural IPL in 2008 clearly illustrate the affect T20 has had a profound effect in terms of developing formidable test batsmen.
It is largely due to modern day batsmen basing their game around attack rather than defence. The players are simply inept of scoring ‘tough’ runs and prefer to have them served on a platter in form of a flat track. In the last six years only five batsmen that have debut in Test cricket after 2008 have managed to average 40. This is an alarming stat and coincides with the rise of T20 cricket.
Number of batsmen (batted in the top 6) to debut for their respective countries since 2008 are Australia 11, West Indies 9, New Zealand 9, India 8, England 7, Sri Lanka 5, Pakistan 5 and South Africa 4. The total number is 58 and to have only 5 average over 40 is deplorable.
The figures above also coincide with the batting decline of the respective countries. Australia’s is yet to find a young batsman that has a game moulded for test cricket. West Indies and New Zealand are not the strongest Test nations. India has had to deal with retirements of some of the greatest batsmen in modern era but luckily have been blessed with Kohli and Pujara. Both of whom have a game to excel in Test cricket. Core of England’s batting is close to 30 but given the way England have categorised players for a particular format one expects them to have a few Test prospects coming along. South Africa is the number one team in the world and like England have majority of the players around the age of 30. Both South Africa and England are likely to face similar issues to India and Australia in another four years when there Test Specialist or those whom have moulded their games on basis of defence rather than T20 depart.
The five cricketers to average over 40 are Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara (India), Jonathon Trott (England), Faf Du Plessis (South Africa) and Darren Bravo (West Indies). Now apart from Kohli and Du Plessis the other three don’t get a run in the T20 teams of their respective countries. While Kohli is part of generation to evolve during the emerging T20 era, Du Plessis at age 29, is still a product of pre T20 game, so naturally he has been adjust his game to the short version.
Joe Root, Kane Williamson will end up nudging their averages past 40 marks eventually but the matter of the fact is these cricketers are Test specialist. They have games based on solid techniques and as history shows it is a lot easier to transform a Test cricketer into an ODI or T20 player than the other way. Very few cricketers have managed to convert from T20 cricketers to Test cricketer.
In reality the cricketing systems around the world simply aren’t producing enough Test batsmen and the sole blame should be on T20 cricket.
Australia has failed to find stability right from the top. No emerging youngsters through the ranks are good enough to replace Langer and Hayden. India has failed to find recognised Test batsmen at number 6, since the retirement of Ganguly in 2008. No upcoming youngster has been able to lock down the number 6 position for England or South Africa. What will happen in four years when the Test specialist retires? Teams have struggled to find one batsman to average more than 40 in last six years; no wonder teams are expecting bowlers to score runs.
Perhaps we are all starting to realise the past greats were right, T20 has definitely stopped the development of Test cricketers after all.