But there have been a couple of recent series that, while not exactly changing my mind, have at least shown that there is a case for two-Test series. The first was held in Zimbabwe. In the first Test, Pakistan romped home as expected, against a pretty limp Zimbabwean side, but in the second, Zimbabwe held on to a tense victory that squared the series. The tension of knowing that you have to perform in every game, especially for a side as mercurial as Pakistan, can sometimes be as pressurizing as having to slug it out over four or five games.
The second has just concluded, and was admittedly less of a Test series than a Sachin Tendulkar theme show. The West Indies were hopelessly outclassed in all departments, and once Rohit Sharma was off the mark in the first Test, they never looked like winning a session, much less an entire Test match. It was a mis-match that was almost painful to watch, and must have been far more painful to be on the wrong side of. The slaughter was mercifully called to a halt after two Tests rather than being drawn out further.
Two-Test series can create drama, or call a merciful halt to one team's suffering.
They could also be useful for introducing new Test sides, should the ICC ever change their neolithic attitude and open up Test cricket to be properly global. These new nations would not have limitless funds, or stadia (Afghanistan having to take their pick from the UAE's grounds), and the established powers would be far from eager to trudge around for more than two un-testing Tests. And, with a two-game series, there's always the possibility that an underdog could do precisely what Zimbabwe did to Pakistan.
Of course, I am presenting only the positives of these condensed encounters. There are definite downsides, as well. When, for instance, Pakistan and South Africa face off for the aforementioned two-game series, you end up with two passionate sets of supporters feeling short-changed, and the cricketing public feeling conned out of a contest between some of the best bowlers (on both sides) and batsmen (South Africa mostly) in the world. These short series can also produce dull and attritional cricket, when one team decides that it is unlikely to win, and will therefore play tedious cricket in the aim of being "difficult to beat". Although it probably doesn't help that the cricket board concerned dishes out rewards to its players for drawing Tests.
Sometimes, the quality of a contest really warrants more than two Tests.
So, returning to the first paragraph of this article, it's not right that Pakistan and South Africa play a two-game series. Nor is it right that England and India get a series more than twice as long, but at the end of the day, money talks. However, I don't think that two-Test series are killing Test cricket at all, it's the boards who are scheduling them that are at fault. Two-Test series could be extremely useful for New Zealand, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe (if they cling onto Test status), Bangladesh, Ireland, Afghanistan and other small teams, if only they were used properly.