India must have a Test cricket calendar to win fans back, says Rahul Dravid
Former India captain and current Head of Nation Cricket Academy Rahul Dravid feels that while Day/Night Tests with the pink ball is a good way to bring crowds back to the traditional form of the game, it is not enough to revive the format, which is struggling for relevance in modern times. Dravid was quoted in the Economic Times saying,
“It (Day-Night Tests) is not the only solution to rejuvenate Test cricket, but it is one of the things we need to do. If only we are able to control dew, the pink ball Test can become an annual feature in India.”
India play their first-ever Day-Night Test against Bangladesh at Eden Gardens in Kolkata starting on November 22.
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Dravid opines that India must have a Test calendar in place, similar to the one that exists in England and Australia. He said,
“People can plan for a Boxing Day Test in December and a Lord’s Test in July a year ahead. We need this to happen in Indian cricket. Also, we need better facilities at stadiums, for fan engagement is extremely necessary to bring crowds back to the game.”
The Indian legend had a major role to play in India’s historic Test win against Australia at Eden Gardens in 2001. Dravid (180) featured in the match-changing partnership with VVS Laxman (281) in front of a full house. However, the former skipper stated that times have changed since, and with the advent of internet and mobiles, bringing crowds to the stadium for Tests has become an even greater challenge. Dravid further explained in the report,
“When we say there were 1,00,000 people at the Eden Gardens in 2001, we are missing the point. At that time, there was no HD television that could guarantee you a better experience at home, there was no cricket on mobile, and if you wanted to catch the action, you had to make it to the ground.”
The NCA director also batted for better facilities at stadiums to woo the crowds back. Dravid, known to be one of India’s most sensible cricketers, added,
“Basic things like toilets, seating, car parking need to be looked into, these are things that will draw.”
The second-highest run-scorer for India in Tests, Dravid finished his career with 13,288 runs in 164 matches at an average of 52.3 with 36 Test hundreds. He further amassed 10,889 runs in 344 ODIs.