Melton Times Sports Editor’s blog - Abu Dhabi Test was like pulling teeth

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Lying helplessly while the dentist battled to remove a not-so-wise wisdom tooth, a very obvious question burst into my desperate mind. How much more pain?

By this point three or four attempts had been made to loosen the errant tooth using what appeared to be a miniature chisel.

Before each forlorn attempt a stronger aesthetic was syringed into the pin-cushion of the surrounding gum. But still a searing stab of pain, caused by the savage infection, shot through me.

Half-an-hour into this traumatic ordeal and I was questioning whether it would ever end.

Just a few days later and the exact same questions sprang to mind as England’s winter Test match programme began turgidly in the United Arab Emirates.

Okay the context was infinitely more preferable, but the overriding sensation was the same.

Within an hour of the first morning the pitch, boasting less life than a Yorkshire pudding, had already given away the match’s inevitable outcome - a high-scoring draw.

For the first four-and-a-half days the merits and talents of the players seemed largely irrelevant – the only thing set up to star was the 22-yard strip of compacted, shiny mud lying dormant between the stumps.

Match officials may as well have spared the poor cricketers the bother of running around the desert for seven hours a day for the best part of a week and called a draw at lunch on day one.

High-scoring limited overs games are pulsating when runs are scored quickly and with dash and invention.

But plodding along interminably - scoring 280 runs per day - is unlikely to set the easiest-to-please pulse racing.

It seems to be an increasingly common theme, particularly in the subcontinent and Sri Lanka, to prepare dry, docile pitches purely to allow star batsmen to polish their averages.

Traditionally the cricket fan was given a faint glimmer of hope that by day four something might begin to happen.

Pitches would break up and the match would finally splutter into life as decent spinners begin to terrify the life out of panicky batters.

But no such luck in Abu Dhabi where the square remained about as likely to change its habits as an obsessive compulsive.

Scheduling insipid matches like this on pitches which defy drama or contest - albeit haphazardly and belatedly here - doesn’t suit anyone.

Not the teams, and certainly not the spectators. I’m not sure the TV companies and advertisers can be that thrilled either as viewers turn to watching paint drying and grass growing for more enticing spectacles.

Any traditionalist fans wondering why the future of Test cricket comes under regular scrutiny needed only to watch five minutes of this turgid fare.

When the popularity of Tests is defended, arguments point toward big crowds in England and its slavish following here.

But look further afield and interest has been diminishing for years with limited overs cricket the only formats drawing in the big crowds.

Any snoots out there putting this trend down to below-par attention spans from spectators who aren’t ‘proper’ cricket fans, are just refusing to look at the quality of its core product.

There have been some gripping Tests in recent times, but, to my mind, mostly in England where tourists are foolishly given a chance.

But even here we’ve seen a few dud pitches over the last few summers. Who can forget the Trent Bridge pudding last year when England and India managed a mighty two-and-a-half innings in five days.

I say all of this as an arch traditionalist, a great lover of the five-day game.

It remains perhaps the truest contest in sport when allowed to breathe and is utterly compelling with the right ingredients.

But the run feasts are betraying the grand institution. As competition they’re redundant.

And like the socket where my blasted wisdom tooth once emerged, it’s a sore which needs to heal soon.