Kevin Roberts told an Australian radio station about his desires for the international calendar between 2023 and 2031, in which reports suggest the ICC may mandate shortened Test matches.
Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts is keen for his board to explore four-day Test matches amid reports that the ICC could be set to make them a compulsory part of the World Test Championship going forward.
Roberts, who succeeded James Sutherland in the position just over a year ago, made the remarks during Australia's Boxing Day Test victory over New Zealand at the MCG, which was completed with a day to spare.
The match was Australia's sixth consecutive home fixture – and the eighth of the country's 12 men's Tests this year – to reach a result in four days or fewer, and Roberts insisted in a radio interview that the traditional five-day format of the red and pink-ball game should not necessarily be considered sacrosanct.
"We probably have a bit of a recency bias just in society, don't we? We think Test cricket has always been five days, but we had timeless Tests before that, and Dean Jones will tell you about the period of three-day Tests being played as recently as the 70s, I think," Roberts told Gerard Whateley on 1116 SEN.
"It hasn't been five days forever, and I guess the only certainty is change – along with death and taxes, as they say in the classics – but it'll be something different in the future, no doubt, and we'll just work through that with the other nations.
"[Four-day Tests are] something that we've got to seriously consider, and it's something that can't be driven by emotion – it's got to be driven by fact. We're really looking forward to digging into the facts of that. What's the average length of Test matches over the last, you know, five to 10 years, both in terms of time and overs?
"Over rates are a consideration in the modern game and so, in the interest of fans and the health of the game, we need to make sure that over rates don't continue to slow, so there's a whole lot of considerations in that – it's something we've got to look at very, very carefully. And perhaps it's more likely than not in the mid-term future."
Calls for shorter Test matches have grown in recent years as over rates have slowed and results have become more common, with just four of the 39 men's games played this year failing to reach an outright victory for either side.
Narrowly undercutting the five draws from 48 Tests in 2018, this is the lowest proportion of drawn matches since 1932 – the most recent year in which every Test played achieved a result. Among years with 20 or more Tests played, six of the eight smallest proportions of draws have occurred in the past six years, with only 1959 (four draws in 20 Tests) and 2002 (eight in 54) also having had fewer than one draw in every five games.
Matches also appear to be at their shortest in any time in the past century, with 2019's average of 1,748 deliveries per Test the lowest of any year since 1913. This figure is 17.4 overs per match lower than the respective figure for 2018, and two recent four-day Test trials – between England and Ireland at Lord's in July and between South Africa and Zimbabwe in 2017, the first such scheduled match since 1973 – both comfortably reached results.
An ESPNcricinfo report suggests the ICC's cricket committee will consider implementing the format widely for the next calendar cycle, commencing in 2023, and Roberts believes the exact makeup of this schedule is critical to the further development of all formats of the global game.
"It's very important over the next 12 or 18 months that the future cricket calendar is nailed down for the years 2023 right through to 2031, most likely," he added.
"On the one hand, you've got the international events – the World Cups and what have you. On the other hand, you've got bilateral international cricket like Test matches, and then you've got domestic leagues.
"What we absolutely are committed to doing is working with the ICC and all of the ICC members to get a healthy balance between all those dimensions.
"No one's saying it's easy. What we are saying is that it's really important to look at it holistically, and we're committed to doing that as a proactive partner of the ICC and the other members."
Roberts also broke Cricket Australia's silence on the BCCI's proposed ODI 'Super Series', which the Indian board's president Sourav Ganguly first mooted at an event for a fantasy cricket app in Kolkata earlier this month.
Ganguly, who was appointed to the role in October, has since backtracked on his comments that a regular four-team league featuring Australia, England, India and an unknown fourth team would commence in 2021, instead saying that no concrete plans had yet been put in place.
Cricket South Africa's new director Graeme Smith has been among the critics of the plans, saying that a tournament centred solely around the so-called 'big three' nations would cause fans to become "bored and frustrated", though Roberts – who is set to meet Ganguly and his colleagues when Australia travel to India for a white-ball series in the new year – cited the proposals as a positive indicator of interest and ingenuity within his wider colleagues.
He added: "It's a challenging dynamic, but it's a great dynamic because you've got so many interested parties. We even see it locally where every city in Australia would love to host the Boxing Day Test and other Test matches, wouldn't they?
"It's fantastic when you've got passionate cricket people in whatever capacity who are looking to play a role in the game. Let's take the positive out of that.
"The other real positive here is under the new presidency of Sourav Ganguly, there's a lot of innovation and innovative thinking coming out of India. They've recently scheduled the day-night Test in Kolkata, which was a great success.
"This idea of the four nations – and no doubt other ideas – will be worked through but I'm visiting Bangladesh after India next month and having discussions with them and have recently been to Pakistan too, so we're working with with all cricket nations to try and get that balance right."