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West Indies v Australia cricket Test series: Visitors' woes portend the death of Test cricket

There appears to be no way out for the West Indies - at least, no way out that the leaders of the cricketing world want to countenance. And even more depressing, for those of us who love the long game above all, was the realisation that what is happening in the Caribbean is but a small lesion on the body of world cricket that shows every sign of turning into a terminal condition.

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It portends the death of Test cricket, something that seems absurd to say after the spectacular at Newlands, but true nonetheless.

The West Indies' problems are particularly acute because they are caught in a pincer movement between two great forces: a public no longer excited by Test cricket (or, it seems, by cricket generally), and an International Cricket Council that has taken a business decision to give supremacy to the boringly repetitive and largely artless slugfest that is T20.

It all comes back to cricket's obsession with money. I do not blame professional cricketers for wanting to maximise earnings, not least because careers are short. When they see what players in other popular sports earn they would not be human if they did not feel peeved.

But long-form cricket is not a popular sport any more. Indeed, there has been so much 50-over cricket that even that novelty is wearing off. Now what is required is T20, which many of us still struggle to regard as cricket at all.

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The game now effectively has two codes but, unlike rugby league and rugby union, the players are easily interchangeable between them.

The financial imperative is why the reputedly best players in the West Indies are playing in T20 tournaments such as the Big Bash and the Indian Premier League, not for their Test team.

A cricketer would rather earn megabucks in a slugfest than represent his country at a form of the game that the public finds tedious and, in all probability, the players do too.

The businessmen who run international cricket have taken a business decision to saturate the schedules with T20 - there is yet another tournament, the ICC World T20, in India in March - and everything else must fall into place behind that.

Respected commentators, mostly former players, routinely talk about the need to rest overworked players from Test cricket so they can play in T20 matches.

In commercial terms, that makes perfect sense. If the cricketing public - the spectators at grounds and at home whom the professional game exists to entertain - decide with their feet that the cricket that matters is the slugfest, then the game is up with Test cricket in more ways than one.

The logic of this may have been thought through by the panjandrums of the ICC in their closed-doors meetings in Dubai, but if so they will not want to share it with us.

The logic is that teams such as India, their players exhausted by the endless round of fatuous and meaningless short-form matches, will simply see no point in going to places such as the West Indies to play Tests.

Cricket is hugely popular in India, but the Indian team do not take a huge contingent of fans with them abroad. So if they end up playing at near-empty grounds in the Caribbean next summer, I suspect that will be that.

Without the ICC shifting its money-obsessed focus away from T20, and putting both its cash and its moral force behind Test cricket, Test cricket is dead.

At this rate England and Australia will be the only countries hosting it in 20 years' time, with India perhaps having the odd exhibition match for amusement's sake.

No one else will have the money or the interest. The West Indies are leading the way: but it is not an achievement about which they should be proud, or anyone can be happy.

The Telegraph, London

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