The downfall of test cricket
The new generation of fans who do not have the patience to watch a two minute youtube video, can they be expected to watch a five day long test, a test which often results in a draw. Cricket had to evolve in order to survive, to meet the expectations of this new generation ,match up with their pace and a result ODIs and later T-20s were born. As cricket marched on with the reckless speed of T-20s, test cricket was left far behind. Slowly and steadily as the viewership dropped further, the administrators too realised where the money was. After all five days of test could not match up with 40 overs of a T 20 in terms of its commercial output. No one was willing to compromise on their greed and thus began the process of decline and downfall.
In a recent interview, Andrew Strauss the England captain expressed his fears about the future of test cricket. Says Strauss,“Even in traditional hotbeds of the game such as South Africa attendances are a long way below what we would expect them to be. I am very much aware that, if we are arrogant and assume Test cricket will always be there, we are sowing the seeds of our downfall.”
In the subcontinent too where cricket is a religion, the number of people who worship test cricket has dwindled. The vast stadiums once packed to capacity for Tests are now only so for one-day internationals or T-20s.In the 2012-2013 England vs. India test series the crowds were a record low. Even after the highly anticipated Sachin’s 100th ton on the first day of the second test, Eden Gardens registered only 10000 people in attendance. Those figures represent not only empty seats but whole stands going empty during all the five days.
The shifting trend is prominent in the cricketing world across the many boards.Recently Sri Lanka and South Africa have chosen to increase the one day internationals in their cricketing calendar at the cost of test matches. Both of these boards are particularly needy ones for whom the benefits of a well paid ODI series far outweighs the positives of a much ignored test series. But is it any different for the particularly rich ones? India with its immensely large cricket fan following has the power to stand up for test cricket. BCCI can easily afford to promote test cricket .It isn’t cash starved. The glory of IPL, its most commercially successful enterprise has ensured that it has become superfluous both in wealth and power. But the sad truth is the rich board only wants to get richer. It appears to be blinded by that green dollar sign and cares little about anything else, leave alone test cricket.
Choked by the commercialisation of cricket, the sacred IPL may just have been one of the many last nails on its coffin. We all enjoy the thrill of an IPL match and its close finishes and the glitz and glamour that comes along with it. However we seem to have become averse to the old school charm of test cricket which remains popular only amongst a dying breed of purists. It is the most unadulterated form of the game and the very foundation on which the cricketing world rests. Test cricket is endangered but not yet extinct .It needs revival. There is a need for the entire cricketing community to wake up, because their arrogance just may end up in permanently destroying test cricket forever. And for once we may all agree to Greg Chapell’s words “The death of test cricket may as well result in the death of the spirit of cricket”.