Australia captain Pat Cummins acknowledged that he occasionally worries about the future of the five-day game but he believes the sport isn’t as badly declining as people think. Over the past ten years, the red-ball format has suffered a decline in interest at stadiums and viewership due to the T20s’ increasing global appeal. Yet, Perth and Melbourne’s packed crowds have witnessed Australia’s current series against Pakistan. Sydney will host the third Test from January 3 to 7. Australia are presently ranked third in the ICC World Test Championship rankings and holds an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.

All attention will be on veteran opener David Warner, who is about to say goodbye to the longest format of the game in front of his home fans at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday. In an attempt to give the seasoned opener the ideal send-off, Australia are anticipated to be up for the struggle against Pakistan in Sydney. Warner will depart as Australia’s fifth-highest run-scorer in the format.

“My hopes are that it’s even stronger than it is now, in ten years’ time or 20 years’ time. I think in some regards leading to this Test summer, some of the question marks were against Pakistan and West Indies. We’ve had two fantastic Test matches against Pakistan, really well supported, big crowds,” Cummins told reporters ahead of the third Test against Pakistan as quoted by ESPNcricinfo.

“So I don’t think it’s in as dramatic a decline as sometimes it gets spoken about. But I think there is an issue just with the amount of other cricket out there, obviously, competition for talent is higher than it’s ever been,” he added.

Earlier, taking to Instagram, former Australia captain Steve Waugh slammed the International Cricket Council and top cricket boards, including the BCCI, for not caring about Test cricket.

The 1999 World Cup-winning captain, Waugh, vouched for equal match fee for all Test players as a step towards securing the future of Test cricket.

“Is this a defining moment in the death of test cricket. Surely the ICC along the cricket boards of India , England and Australia must step in to protect the purest form of the game. A premium ,equal match fee for all test players might be a good starting point History and tradition must count for something. If we stand by and allow profits to be the defining criteria the legacy of Bradman , Grace and Sobers will be irrelevant,” Waugh posted on Instagram.

With neither Pakistan nor the West Indies sending their full-strength teams to Australia for the Test series, Waugh fears the trend will continue.

“It’s pretty obvious what the problem is. The West Indies aren’t sending their full-strength side (to Australia this summer). They haven’t picked a full-strength Test team for a couple of years now.

“Someone like Nicholas Pooran is really a Test batsman who doesn’t play Test cricket. Jason Holder, probably their best player, is not playing now. Even Pakistan didn’t send a full side (to Australia),” he added.

Even though fringe Australian all-rounder Cameron Green had a lengthy net session and raised the possibility of a comeback, Australia decided against making changes to a winning formula in order to successfully defend their World Test Championship title.

Captain Cummins said Australia’s fast bowlers have enough time to play every match because of the Test calendar that includes breaks between their two home series against Pakistan and the West Indies and their tour to New Zealand.

“Normally each summer there’s something that pops up. But all three of us (Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood) are really fresh. Even the way this summer is spread out a bit more, there’s two Tests on, then a bit of a gap; then two Tests, then a bit of a gap; then New Zealand. We’ll give it a chance. It’s all gone pretty smoothly so far,” Cummins was quoted as saying by ICC.

Cummins on Tuesday announced an unchanged playing XI for the third Test and final match of the series against Pakistan at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), beginning on Wednesday.

In an attempt to give the seasoned opener the ideal send-off, Australia are anticipated to be up for the struggle against Pakistan in Sydney. Warner will depart as Australia’s fifth-highest run-scorer in the format.

With ANI and PTI inputs

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