No ignoring players in four-day debate: CA

Rob Forsaith
A decision on four-day Tests has to be a mixture of heart and head, says Kevin Roberts

Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts insists player feedback will be critical in any decision regarding the push for four-day Tests, which has already encountered stern opposition from Tim Paine's team.

Roberts suggested during the Boxing Day Test that cutting a day from cricket's most revered format was an innovation worth considering, adding that "perhaps it is more likely than not in the mid-term future".

Four-day Tests, expected to be discussed at International Cricket Council meetings this year, are intended to free up space on the calendar while bringing greater certainty to boards and broadcasters.

Several players have already spoken out in favour of keeping Tests at five days for a range of reasons, with Nathan Lyon dubbing it "ridiculous".

"The view of players is critically important. The view of fans is critically important," Roberts told radio station SEN on Saturday.

"There's no predetermined outcome or decision.

"The data ... of average length of matches is very important to support the debate and decision-making process.

"A healthy mix of passion and facts. You can't have all of one or the other, it's got to be a mix of head and heart in these discussions."

Roberts noted the average length of drawn Tests has been 360 overs over the past 20 years, while the average length of result Tests in the same period has been 321 overs.

South Africa and England have both held four-day Tests since the ICC agreed in 2017 to let boards schedule them on a trial basis.

Australia host Afghanistan next year in a one-off Test and it is possible that contest could be played over four days.

Lyon, Paine and Travis Head have all recently argued in favour of the status quo, while national coach Justin Langer has also declared he'd like to see Test cricket remain a five-day affair.

The potential showdown between cricketers and administrators comes after CA hosted the inaugural day-night Test in 2015 despite public pushback from some stars.

Roberts rejected the notion that "players are an obstacle" to four-day Tests.

"They're passionate about Test cricket and that's brilliant," he said.

"The rich debate is fantastic.

"Whatever my passion for five-day cricket might be - or the passion of other people - we need to balance that out with facts and ask ourselves the hard questions."