For Test cricket to survive, it needs to establish a healthy commercial relationship with its audience – Harsha Bhogle
In the recent past, Test Cricket has been receiving alarm bells regarding its status at the international level. Frequently, in Test Cricket, when sun is beaming down, the innings is unfolding session by session; however in an inclement weather the patience is severely tested.
Generally, during inclement weather or bad-light, umpires take the bails off because of which the result of the game may perhaps end in a draw (even though the play resumes after rain-interruption). But in ODI Cricket, the Duckworth-Lewis method is used by which winners are judged. Why can’t you judge a winner in cricket when it has been interrupted by rain? That really brings down the strategy level of the team, which desperately looking for a win.
Usually, when we see test cricket on our television screens, inactivity becomes a common and frustrating thread whilst the weather gods pour scorn on the game. Spectators have voted with their feet and have reduced attendance while those at home surf channels for something more entertaining.
Now consider this case: If a team needs three wickets to wrap up the match and has 40 overs to be bowled in the final day’s play. At that juncture, rain Gods spoil almost two hours of the day’s play. Then, why can’t you extend the play until sun sets in case the bowling team didn’t pick up all the three wickets? Sometimes, captains agree for a draw, which I wouldn’t be interested in watching. When you have a chance to wrap up the match, it would be disappointing to see the result as draw. That’s where test Cricket needs to modernize. Apart from England, no other country extends the play until the allotted overs are bowled. They normally play 7 hours and 30 minutes of Test Cricket while England keep playing until the allotted overs of the day are bowled. Probably, they may extend to 8 hours as well.
One of the more exasperating aspects of Test cricket is the limitation on overs per day. When players have been sitting on their backsides for a majority of the day’s play, can they not do overtime? If half the day is rained out, why can’t they get on the park and play until sunset if the sun gods are beaming, and complete the scheduled ninety overs? Although it affects the strategy of the team, however, in modern times it feeds the appetite of entertainment.
Inevitably when we talk of nurturing, we talk about Test cricket. It bothers a little that to some, anything other than Test cricket is a scandal, is unworthy of existence and must necessarily be looked down on. For Test Cricket to survive, it must establish a commercial connection with the follower. Normally, many of us won’t follow Test Cricket because the players seem to take more amount of time to settle down, they rarely play a shot and actually that makes audience jaded. Now picture this: for a product to survive in the market there must be enough people buying the product and it needs commercial involvement between the producer and consumer. Also, they would be interested in knowing about the quality of the product, and how far it benefits them. Likewise, Test Cricket must establish a commercial relationship with the audience to survive and moreover, it must be thrilling to watch.
The surfaces that are prepared for a Test match also play a vital role. Neither should it have more amount of grass or should be flat and dry. It should be an even contest with both bat and ball. What I am trying to convey here is, the wicket should be dry and should have cracks on some areas, so that fast bowlers could get extra-bit of bounce and also it should start spinning from day 3. That brings the audience a live and would be a fascinating Test match to watch especially on the final day.
Anyway, I am sure Test Cricket will survive, but I think T20 will draw in more number of audiences and the challenge would be to make people enjoy the flavors of Test Cricket. As Harsha Bhogle rightly said, “the bigger challenge in world cricket is not whether Test cricket must be played or T20, it is whether or not everyone can understand the different cultures within our tiny world”.