Cricket: West Indies, England victories shots in arm for future of tests

Test cricket has been under pressure amid the growing popularity of lucrative T20 leagues around the world, but the longest format could not have given itself a bigger boost with two thrilling finales to box office matches on Sunday.

With T20 franchises potentially becoming players' primary employers and most boards finding test cricket financially not viable, the format's future remains a concern for the purists, but they will have a spring in their step, after West Indies stunned Australia at Brisbane and, hours later, England staged a stunning comeback against India at Hyderabad.

Shamar Joseph celebrates victory over Australia.
Shamar Joseph celebrates victory over Australia. Photo credit: Getty Images

With allrounders Jason Holder and Kyle Mayers opting to play franchise cricket instead, West Indies picked seven uncapped players for the two-test series downunder, where they last won a test in 1997.

World Test Championship winners Australia prevailed in a little more than two days at Adelaide and a series sweep looked a formality, with the hosts a perfect 11-0 in day-night matches.

West Indies speedster Shamar Joseph had other ideas. After taking a five-wicket haul in his debut test, Joseph, 24,bowling with a bruised toe, burst onto the scene as the game's new star with his 7/68 at Brisbane to clinch a cliffhanger for his team.

The drama and the joy moved West Indies stalwarts Brian Lara and Carl Hooper to tears.

While it was a triumph for the underdog spirit, the outcome at Hyderabad was a victory for England's fearless brand of cricket.

India had lost just three tests at home since 2013 and the home side looked likely to open the five-match series with another win, after taking a lead of 190, a figure that would usually prove decisive in such spin-friendly conditions.

However, Ollie Pope produced arguably the best knock by a visiting batter in India, with an incredible 196, to overturn the deficit, while debutant spinner Tom Hartley claimed 7/63 to script one of England's greatest away wins.

India coach Rahul Dravid took some comfort from the fact his team was involved in such a positive advertisement for test cricket.

"If you look at the bigger picture, you don't have 25,000 people coming in each of the four days of a test match here," he said.

"The cricket was played at a lovely pace. Both teams played the game without taking a backward step and kept pushing hard.

"It was a very good test match to be part of."