Why an Ashes whitewash could be bad for Test cricket

England dominated the second Ashes Test at Lord's Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Don’t you just love Test cricket? Are you convinced it is the purest form of the sport; the biggest test of skill and strength of mind? And do you relish the edgy sporting rivalry of the Ashes?

If so, wasn't it fantastic to see England humiliate Australia with a day to spare at Lord's? And what about the prospect of a one-sided series - a 5-0 whitewash? A delicious payback maybe for the Waugh, Gilchrist, McGrath and Warne years. Well if you're salivating at the prospect, be careful what you wish for.

Test matches in England, even against unfashionable New Zealand this summer, tend to sell out, but that is not the picture elsewhere around the world.

In India, for example, Test matches are being drowned under a tsunami of Twenty20 matches and One-Day Internationals. Their popularity, in this cricket mad powerhouse, is bathed in ambivalence. South Africa, the West Indies and especially New Zealand struggle in the same way.

One survey carried out in India recently showed what traditionalists have always feared: that the majority of young fans find the pace of Test cricket too slow and the game itself boring compared to the sporting fireworks of a T20.

It was a very small survey and it is far too simplistic to conclude that Tests are under threat for only that reason - economic, social and a host of other factors come into play too - but it is a significant concern.

Joe Root put in a man-of-the-match display at Lord's Credit: EMPICS Sport

The players have a responsibility to Test cricket, but it is difficult to argue with them for favouring the short-form game, given the potential riches it promises.

England’s Test squad is pretty well paid, Australia’s too, but the same can’t be said for the traditionally strong Test playing nations such as Pakistan or the West Indies. And remember, cricket as a sport in the Caribbean is hanging on by its fingernails as it is.

The best and biggest names can make more than a million US dollars for a couple of months' work in the Indian Premier League and the Big Bash. If you can do that, why would you make five-day Tests a priority?

At Lord's last week, when Joe Root and Ian Bell were piling on the runs and the agony, every single Australian fielder at times had his arms crossed, or his hands buried in his pockets or placed on his hips.

They may have been demoralised, but if the players so obviously lose interest it won’t be long before the spectators do too. Remember at Lord's the best seats cost around £100, a lot of money to watch a non-contest. If it happens a couple of times you might think twice about shelling out on a third occasion.

Once we lose the fans, we might need another urn to hold some new ashes: the remnants of the bails used in the last ever Test match.

I hope I’m wrong, but be careful what you wish for.