Test cricket attendances in India

Ritesh’s match report has attracted attention from far and wide. We’ve a nagging concern that people are going to arrive here thinking this is an intelligent website that makes serious points only to be confronted with something like this. But what are you going to do?

Even so, we thought we’d give our thoughts on the matter. We seem to find ourself in the entirely unfamiliar position where we’re the optimist. We’re not sure this has ever happened before.

Causes for optimism

There’s some real horseshit spoken about the future of Test cricket in India. Most of it results from empty seats leading to the conclusion that no-one’s interested. “Indians aren’t interested in Tests,” they say – as if a billion people all feel exactly the same.

We shouldn’t sit back and be complacent about Test cricket, but at the same time it’s a spectacularly robust beast. Test cricket is still surviving in what is currently a hostile environment and just a few minor changes would help its cause immeasurably.

We’ve come up with a two-point plan of action that can be acted on immediately, after which we can all take stock and ponder the more elaborate plans for “saving” Test cricket in India.

  1. Sell tickets
  2. Be slightly welcoming to fans

What is supposedly Test cricket’s biggest threat, the IPL, couldn’t fill a stadium for its play-offs and the post-World Cup one-day internationals against England were hardly sell-outs. Those sounding the death knell of the longer game might like to ponder whether those formats would retain the same following as Test cricket were they neglected in quite the same way.

As far as we can tell, enthusiasm for Test cricket is fundamentally strong in India and that would be more apparent in the grounds were a couple of simple things done differently.

If we were in charge of a TV network paying for Test rights, we would INSIST that certain changes were made and that fans were positively encouraged to attend matches. The people in the stands are a vital and undervalued part of the spectacle. A full house makes you feel that the action’s of earth-shattering importance. An empty stadium makes you feel like you’re watching a meaningless experiment being carried out in lab conditions.

That transmits itself to the players too. On field events are actually improved by a good crowd. We, sat on our fat arses on our undersized plastic seats, are the cholesterol-clogged beating heart of this whole sport.

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17 Appeals

  1. Agreed KC. Agreed.

    Some thoroughly good test cricket going on in Cape Town today. Watching Steyn bowl on a helpful pitch and batsman fighting to survive is a thing of beauty.

  2. As one who does attend test matches, your final paragraph gives me an enormous sense of self importance.

    I think I shall be incredibly pompous about everthing to everybody for the rest of the day.

  3. I guess that’s why BCCI pays Shastri.. He can shout in his booming voice “WHAT A HUGE CROWD FOR THIS GAME” as camera focuses on the hundred fans inside the stadium.

  4. I want to got to Eden Gardens to see the 2nd test match between India and WI – for a day or two. But they are starting the match on Monday. At least have one of the match day fall on weekend. I would still take a day’s leave from work and go, but they are not selling single day tickets.

    • Hearing that sort of thing just makes me angry, Rajeev, and it’s not like the ECB are much better. At least the demand for the (biggest) Tests in England is such that they’ll fill out whatever the schedule/ticket arrangement/price.

      And on the final day against India at Lord’s this year, MCC (not ECB) opened its doors cheaply for turn-up fans, kids for free. It filled the place and it was a Monday.

      It took a private members’ club to get that right. Administrators are just shite.

  5. I feel this is a missed opportunity to shoe horn in another lab coat reference

  6. Dale Steyn has 13-4-24-4 at Newlands right now. Michael Clarke has 85 runs, just slightly more than half his team’s total, six down. That’s two magnificent performances for the price of one entry ticket and a gallon of beer.

    Assuming that there are X people in the ground right now, that means that 7,000,000,000 – X people, me included, are missing a fantastic day’s sport.

  7. Did you people know that the BCCI, in a bid to increase test match attendance, has commissioned Ravis (Shastri and Bopara) to dance the zumba during every drinks break? Completely naked.

  8. Watching cricket matches in stadiums in India can get quite horrific. I have seen most of my matches at the Wankhede and it is anything but spectator friendly. Before it underwent the renovation the crowds had to sit on wooden benches (with gaps in between) which were on the brink of breaking up.Food has always been super overpriced and stale. Water is sold in pouches and halfway through the first innings the vendors run out of stock. The washrooms donot have water supply at most times, and absolutely stink. I have had people questioning me as to why I keep making myself undergo the trauma.. I too have questioned the masochist in me several times. I guess it is all for that Wankhede Mexican Wave and the ‘Sachin Sachin’ chants when he walks into bat. That and singing the national anthem at the start of the match is probably what gets me to the stadium everytime.
    However I recently saw a match at Chinnaswamy, Bangalore after Kumble(Chairman) and Srinath(Secretary KSCA) took some efforts to enhance the spectator experience. And I was pleasantly surprised by the arrangements.

  9. Since we came back from the debacle that was India tour to England there have been far too many matches – and they ve been taking place at the same venues. Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi. Smaller venues like Jaipur, Gwalior, Pune, Mysore have not seen matches for a long time. Take the Test matches to these venues and see how the crowd comes in. A Ranji Trophy final between Mumbai and Karnataka in Mysore had packed crowds throughout the 4 days , even though the stars were not playing. Change of venues especially for the tests will do the trick.. But sadly the BCCI is too unconcerned.

  10. BTW, following on from the crossword clues from last week, The Guardian crossword today has a genuine cricket-themed cryptic:

    2 Down
    Batter who makes test runs all the time (3,6,6)

  11. instead of feigning that the “action was an earth-shattering experience”, it might help in putting more bums on seat if the action really was earth-shattering. test cricket crowds will be poor as long as there are poor contests and half of the current test sides are piss poor.

  12. To get crowds in Test matches following things must be immediately done-

    1- Cities presently hosting only one dayers- with adequate facilities need to be immediately used as Test centres- like Vadodara, Rajkot, Pune, Hyderabad, Jamshedpur, Guwahati, Indore, Gwalior, Kochi, and Vishakhapatnam in India and other places in the world like Gujranwala, Hyderabad in Pakistan, Darwin in Australia,and all places which currently host only one dayers in other countries.. This will ensure that the same centres will not get too many matches- and ensure people’s enthusiasm.

    2- The concept of ‘tickets for all 5 days or none’ must be ended immediately- with daily tickets available. The prices of the tickets should be cheap- and not extravagant- and concession may be given if someone buys for all 5 days. If in case of poor turnout, free entry can also be given.

    3- Cities which earlier hosted international games but are not now being used need to be used as one day centres immediately- like Patna (which hosted a World Cup game in 1996), Amritsar, Jallandhar and Lucknow (which hosted a Test in 1993) and Vijaywada (which hosted a one day game in 2002). Some of these can also be used as Test centres.

    4- In cases like Nagpur- where the stadium is too far away- buses need to arranged by the board – with cheap tickets. Or Tests should be played at the old stadium in the heart of the city, and one-dayers and 20-20s can be played at the new stadium 16 kilometers away, because fans can go so far for 1 day, but not all 5.

    5- If none of the above 4 give desired results, then along with them, live telecast of the match should be banned in the city where the match is being played unless its a full house or 80 % full, by law.

    http://manmathdeshpande.blogspot.com/2010/10/how-to-get-crowds-for-test-cricket.html

  13. Number of people in stadium is not a good way to judge the popularity of test cricket. In This day and Age with so much media of communication available and Good rate of employment in India, The Public Likes to watch at their Home or Office. While the stadiums in Australi and England might be full, those outside the statdium are not watching test matches. On the other hands billion are glued to televisions when Test match is On in India.
    Cheers and power to your mind:
    http://mind-mysteries.blogspot.com

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