Johannesburg, Jan 8: Is extra preference for white-ball formats endangering existence of Test cricket?
It may not be totally true. But the five-day classic red-ball format of cricket in recent times has defintely become more fast, intense and result oriented.
May be it is due to the introduction of ICC's World Test Championship points, or players of this era not keen to play the 'wait and watch' style of Test cricket anymore.
Well, World Test Championship was started two years back, and not India or Australia, but New Zealand and England have won the first two seasons.
India, with the highest number of players in the selection pools , rich and most powerful nation in the cricketing world in the last few decades, have finished runners-up on both editions of WTC championships.
Despite major teams like India, Australia, England, New Zealand and Pakistan paying importance to the red-ball format of the game, in recent times however, many international players have quit Test cricket. At the same time, they have announced that they are very much keen to continue or prolong their white-ball careers.
Many young or comparatively young players too have joined that list. The latest to join that long list is South Africa wicketkeeper Heinrich Klassen.
Klassen is immensely talented. There is no doubt about that. His white-ball records too are very impressive. Also, he has played only four Tests in last four years. But that is mostly due to presence of veteran Quinton de Kock, who had already bid adieu to international cricket.
After recent retirement of Quinton de Kock from international cricket, may cricket fans and experts might have expected Klassen to be his worthy successor in all three formats.
But in the recently concluded India-South Africa Test series, Cricket South Africa (CSA) preferred Kyle Verreynne as the gloves-man. That may have hurt Klassen. Or, he could have been given a message that he may not be the automatic first choice keeper in Tests.
Otherwise, Klassen must have taken a call himself to focus more on T20Is and ODIs.
Whatever, may be the reason, special talent Heinrich Klassen becomes the latest international star to prefer white ball formats to Tests.
That may not be a good sign for the longer format of the game, as regularly many cricketers are expressing disinterest to play Tests.
Private leagues, franchise cricket and personal likings may be the factors. But all that however, indicates that Tests are no more the unanimous most sought after format for all star playas..
Coming to Klaasen's case. He announced on Monday that he will be retiring from Test cricket. Klassen steps away from the format after featuring in four Tests for South Africa between 2019 and 2023.
He is the second South Africa player to retire from Test cricket after Dean Elgar ended his career in the longer format after the New Year's Test against India at Cape Town last week. Klassen made his Test debut in India and went on to represent the country in Australia and twice played against the West Indies last summer, amassing 104 runs.
He also played 85 first-class matches where he amassed 5347 runs at an average of 46.09, including 12 hundreds and a career-best knock of 292 for the Momentum Multiply Titans in the CSA 4-Day Series.
“After a few sleepless nights wondering if I am making the right decision, I have decided to retire from red-ball cricket. It’s a difficult decision that I have made because it is by far my favourite format of the game.”
"The battles that I faced on and off the field have made me the cricketer I am today. It has been a great journey and I am glad I could have represented my country. My baggy Test cap is the most precious cap I have ever been handed."
"Thanks to everyone that has played a part in my red-ball career and shaped me into the cricketer I am today. But for now a new challenge awaits and I am looking forward to it,” said Klassen in a statement.
South Africa are scheduled to play seven more Tests, but Klassen will now not be available for selection in matches against West Indies, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
"It is tough to see a player of Heinrich's calibre step away from red-ball cricket, but we respect his decision. We look forward to seeing him excel in the white-ball arena and continue to make valuable contributions to South African cricket in the years ahead," said Enoch Nkwe, Cricket South Africa’s Director of Cricket. (With IANS support)