29 December 2008

WHY IS TEST CRICKET ‘DYING’?

I will remember 2008 as the year when I heard the cry of ‘test cricket is dying’ most often? TV commentators, Indian, English, Australian and what not, said it – the print media repeatedly dwelt upon it – from what I can remember, even some current cricketers viewed test cricket to be in irreversible decline.

But why? In 2008, there have been approximately 30 test matches. While 13 of these have been played in the sub-continent (about 40%), the remaining (about 60%) have been played across South Africa, New Zealand, West Indies, Australia and England. Across the vagaries of these pitches, there have been less than half a dozen draws in test cricket in the entire year (and of the draws, a couple could be attributed to the weather). Even in the sub-continent, so often accused of producing dull dreary cricket, only 3 drawn tests come to mind immediately (and of these three drawn tests, the two between India-Australia were only a few moments away from changing to results). 2008 has also seen the second highest run chase in history and the highest run chase in India and yet....

Compare this to a few decades back, when draws were the order of a day – a result, something to be cherished – where Dravid’s batting would have been considered outright brash - where just 250 runs in a day was considered outstanding batting! For instance, India and Pakistan played a 5 test series without either side winning a test – and yet they played to packed stadiums!!

So what has changed over the past 15 years? Why are the stadiums, especially the usually packed to the rafters Indian stadiums, suddenly bereft of people? Is it the fast food diet of one-day and 20 over matches that have ruined our palate for the fine cuisine of test cricket? Has the pace of our lives changed, so that we no longer have 5 days to spare on cricket, no matter how riveting the contest? Do we demand more comfort and facilities than the amphitheatres of cricket can offer?? Is there too much cricket?? Is it the television?

We must ofcourse identify the problems before we propose a cure. So, are there any other factors?

3 comments:

John said...

For all the results that are being produced in Tests today, it is lacking in the bowling-star-power of the nineties. No Akram, Ambrose, Warne, Donald etc.

Television comfort alone cannot explain Mohali's absurdly low turnouts of late. It is said to be one of India's most comfortable places to watch the game.
On the other hand, we need to see how much of a myth this actually is. What kind of revenues are television companies making on Test cricket? Advertisers will not pay unless the TRPs reflect value for money. But considering that a lot of the slots in the recently concluded India-Eng Test series on Neo Sports was taken up by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs (incidentally, also under the stewardship of Sharad Pawar) there might be a lot more truth to the rumoured impending demise.

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Avinash said...

No beer. Isnt that a huge problem or am i just a raging alcoholic?