London, Aug 20 (IANS): Indian cricketing legend and former captain Rahul Dravid backed the idea of day-night Test cricket and called for nurturing first-class format of the game.
"Test cricket, an older, larger entity is the trunk of a tree and the shorter game - be it T20 or ODIs - is its branches, its offshoots. Now to be fair, it is the branches that carry the fruit, earn the benefits of the larger garden in which they stand and so catch the eye," said Dravid at an ESPNcricinfo for Cricket event held here Monday.
"The trunk, though, is the old, massive, larger thing which took a very long time to reach height and bulk. But it is actually a life source: chip away at the trunk or cut it down and the branches will fall off, the fruit will dry up," he said.
Dravid said Tests should be bolstered by seriously considering the possibilities of day-night Tests, increasing pay for long-form specialists, a streamlined and regularised cricket calendar, and providing more context to matches through competitions like the Test championship.
"If that means reworking how first-class and Test players can be out on more lucrative contracts, let's get the accountants on this. If it means playing day-night cricket, we must give it a try, keep an open mind. The game's traditions aren't under threat if we play Test cricket under lights. I know there have been concerns about the durability of the pink ball, but I have had some experience of it having played for the MCC, and it seemed to hold up okay," said Dravid, called the "wall" for his virtually inpenetrable defence while batting.
Dravid was also concerned about the rising popularity of Twenty20 among youngsters.
"We are, I believe, maybe one generation away from reaching the point where our entire youth structures could cater only to T20 without any emphasis on the longer form of the game. By not giving young players a chance to explore their versatility, endurance or even improvisational skills, we will be selling ourselves and our sport well short.
"The skill of learning how to think clearly under pressure is required in T20, but it is built through having to endure pressure for a session, two sessions, an entire day, a series of spells," he said.
Dravid said Tests should be scheduled properly to ensure that teams compete in home-and-away former in a cycle of four year.
"We can start by sorting out the scheduling around Test cricket, to ensure that teams can complete their home-and-away cycles against each other over a four-year period. This will mean balancing and creating context for all the three formats," he said.