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.
- Sell tickets
- 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.