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England pace bowler James Anderson has admitted that he fears for the future of Test cricket, given the rise of Twenty20 Internationals and domestic Twenty20 competitions.
Anderson is also concerned that an increasing number of players will follow in England spinner Adil Rashid and opening batsman Alex Hales’ footsteps by signing white-ball contracts.
Rashid and Hales turned their back on red-ball cricket in county cricket as they solely want to focus on limited overs cricket.
When asked what can be done to stop more players from going down this route, Anderson was quoted by The Independent as saying: “I’m not sure what the answer is. From an England point of view they have put money into white-ball cricket because our performances in World Cups has not been good enough, I understand the reasons for that.
“But we have to be careful not to go too one-day, we have to find a balance because there is such a legacy of Test cricket in this country and we can’t lose that.”
The 35-year-old, who is England’s leading wicket-taker in Test cricket with 523 wickets, added that Rashid and Hales’ decision to sign white-ball contracts didn’t come as a surprise.
“No. It was something I kind of thought might happen, with the way contracts have gone,” he said. “There are incentives in white-ball cricket now, especially being able to play all the Twenty20 stuff around the world.
“It’s getting quite ludicrous in terms of the money you can earn. I’m not surprised at all and I’m sure there will be other people that follow in the future. The danger for us is that it becomes, not an epidemic, but popular among players to do this.
“I do worry if more and more players do it whether that sets the kind of example we want for younger guys coming through the game.
“Will they want to go on and play Test cricket and put in the hard graft of playing five days on tough pitches? Or would they want to go forward in a game that would potentially be more lucrative for them?
“These competitions around the world are fantastic to watch but as good as they are, I would hate to see Test cricket suffer more than it is at the minute.”
Anderson pointed out that the disappointing crowd on the opening day of the first Test between South Africa and Australia in Durban further proves that Test cricket is on the decline.
“It’s a slight worry for me because the crowds around the world seem to be dwindling,” he said. “Seeing South Africa v Australia, the crowd in Durban … it might not be ideal, midweek, kids at school – but that’s potentially the most exciting series around the world!
“I just hope… you need role models; Virat Kohli if he continues, [Morne] Morkel retiring is a big loss, AB [De Villiers] there is talk about him… it needs people, not just players but they will play a part of it and more people will want to watch it.”
While Anderson still has hope when it comes to England’s younger generation, he conceded that there is a part of him that fears they will get caught up in the Twenty20 limelight and ultimately turn their back on the longest format of the game.
“When we play Test cricket in England there are lots of kids watching a full day’s play, I am sure there is still interest out there and an Ashes series is still the pinnacle for the young guys coming through,” he said. “I just worry they will get caught up in T20 as it’s easier on the body and brain… and a lot easier on the pocket as well.”