Writing of the two back-to-back Ashes series now in prospect, Barney Ronay offers the following characterization of Test cricket:
I might quibble with 'devoid of noticeable activity'. And I do quibble with 'academically meritocratic'. I can't think what he means: the game is as readily accessible to anyone as football or any other sport is. The intricacies may take more time to assimilate than with other games, but that's something else. Quibbles aside, though, Ronay's description nicely captures much of what is appealing about Test cricket. It's hard to understand why there are people who are impervious to it.
Test match cricket remains a glorious anachronism, its tempo and texture utterly out of kilter with the modern world. If you were to come up with it now, to pitch the idea of a major global sport based around a glacial five-day struggle devoid of noticeable activity for hours on end, you'd be laughed out of the room. Test cricket is neither interactive, celebrity-friendly or geared overtly towards the mass market. It is difficult, remote, gently nuanced and academically meritocratic. Its continued existence sometimes looks like an oversight, or a fluke. With this in mind it is little wonder that Test cricket has for many years been quietly shrinking back towards its keenest strongholds.