In the most recent four-year cycle between World Cups 185 Test matches were played between all nations and in the next four-year cycle exactly the same number are scheduled although, with Afghanistan and Ireland being added to the roster, fewer will be played by every team except Bangladesh. Even England and Australia will play fewer than they did in the preceding four years, while SA have dropped more than any of the other major nations. In fact, the Proteas will play just 31 Tests between now and the 2023 World Cup, fewer than any time before. And that’s assuming India don’t cut any of those scheduled. Just as life is becoming increasingly and undeniably rosier for white-ball specialists, especially T20 merchants, it is becoming less financially attractive and mentally stimulating for players with a penchant for the real thing. The start of the inaugural Test Championship in August has provided a welcome boost of context but it has also led directly to a reduction in fixtures. Sev...

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