London: Former India captain Rahul Dravid wants cricket administrators to approach the introduction of day-night Tests with an open mind to bolster the dwindling popularity of the longer format among spectators.
The idea of floodlit Test cricket, possibly played with a pink, orange or yellow ball, in more spectator-friendly hours has found acceptance in a wide section of the cricketing fraternity in recent years.
While doubts still remain about its technical viability, the International Cricket Council (ICC) last year approved the idea of day-night Test matches but left it to member boards to decide on the hours of play and the colour of the ball.
Speaking at an event organised by Cricinfo in London on Monday, Dravid highlighted the primacy of Test cricket and suggested ways for bolstering the acceptance of the longer format of the game across the world.
"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," Dravid, the third-highest run-scorer in Test cricket, said. "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.
"It could be an issue at places where dew sets in at certain times of the year, but scheduled at the right places at the right times, it could get Test cricket what it needs most: some more people in the stands."
Dravid, who also scored more than 10,000 runs in the 50-over format, felt Test cricket should not be sacrificed at the altar of the popular shorter formats and should be ready to adapt with changing times.
"Moving with the times does not mean embracing only T20 and trashing Test cricket," Dravid, who retired from international cricket last year, said. "It means finding a way to retain the best form of the game in a contemporary environment. Remember, while it did take long, there's even a roof over Wimbledon Centre Court these days.
"Day-night Tests remain a work in progress but 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."
Dravid, 40, also slammed the current trend of holding two-Test series between countries to accommodate T20 matches as "nothingness of a nothing" and backed a successful launch of the world Test championship.
"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," he said. "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. 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 explained.
"While Test cricket has proved its resilience over a century and is a tough old dog, we must understand that no matter what the crises past, it has reached a fairly critical point in its history."
Dravid added that the rigours cricketers face in the longer version help them, especially youngsters, better understand their basic game.
"The fundamental core of every cricketer's game is enriched by playing four and five-day cricket. By using those well-trained powers of adaptability, discipline, resilience and focus as a T20 cricketer, you will have double the advantage than the player possessed only of talent and timing," he said. "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."