Test Cricket – Writing an obituary too soon?

Back to my favorite topic – Cricket! Pundits around the world have been busy the last month or so. They have been busy writing an obituary to Test Cricket. Not to blame them – The last 3 months or so have seen an explosion of pajama cricket. With IPL II generating the kind of interest that it did, it was an easy thing to do. IPL managed to successfully export its fan following outside India. This was followed by the T20 world cup in England. Though watching cricket in England is not the same as it is in South Africa, people will admit. All this contributed in a sense to the early “Obituary”.

ICC was busy getting its act together. There was a talk of cutting down the duration of Test matches to 4 days, increasing the pathetic over rates and even changing the color of the ball to Orange! What next?

I strongly believe that ICC has gotten it all wrong. Test Cricket is not dead, nor is it going to be gone that easily. Not if the first 2 test matches from the current Ashes series, serve as any indicator. The grounds were full and the quality of cricket did not disappoint. England managed to hold on to a narrow draw at Cardiff and then came up with a convincing win at Lords. ECB & MCC have always done enough to attract crowds to the test matches. Most grounds are very spectator friendly. They also have the big wide screen for people who missed the live action. Except for the famed English weather, watching test cricket appears to be fun. The other thing that seems to be helping – ECB is not eager to exploit ODIs and T20s. There is no overkill and of course, the stage actors (the players) get enough rest!

The other boards need to learn from ECB, especially the BCCI. BCCI created the IPL cash cow and is busy milking it. They better be careful, or the slam bang variety could soon be replaced by the T10 gully variety. Cricket in India could also end up like the story of the goose that laid the  golden egg. If they play it carefully, there is enough slice of the pie left for Test cricket and ODIs. BCCI needs to encourage the crowds at Test match venues. They can start off by reducing the ticket rates. They also need to improve the facilities for the paying spectators. This has to go hand in hand with the ICC initiatives aimed at improving the over rates and generally making Test cricket more interesting. Having a separate calendar will also help. The players need to be treated well and not be pushed to the brink! The BCCI also needs to rein in its state boards. There is a talk of KPL – Karnataka Premier League! I understand the intention is to give exposure to more local players,  but if this were to become another IPL?

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