The Enchantment of Test Match Cricket
Imagine a time of the year when England are touring Australia, Pakistan are touring India, Sri Lanka are touring South Africa and New Zealand are touring the West Indies, simultaneously. If all these teams were to start playing a test match on the same day, the ardent cricket lover would go almost sleepless for five nights together.
Such is the gripping nature of a well contested Test match. Being successful at this form of the sport isn’t easy by any means. It requires immense skill, planning, hard work and most importantly, execution. No wonder it is every cricketer’s dream to excel at the highest level in cricket’s purest avatar.
Playing a test match is in many ways like going to school. The players are the students of the game and the cricket ground is their school. The match, like the school, begins in the morning. You then get a lunch break before you play again. After session two, you get a tea break and then play goes on until stumps. Like the short breaks you get in school, the players get drink breaks after every hour. At every point in the day, the players on the field are learning new things which will help them in their career.
Batsmen constructing their innings brick by brick, fast bowlers bowling in tandem or a spinner operating tirelessly trying to outwit a batsman are sights to behold for the spectator. The captain of the fielding side has the responsibility of marshalling his troops, strategizing a batsman’s downfall and guiding his resources in a skillful manner. The batsmen on the other hand, slug it out in the middle, to accumulate big scores so that they rake up a sizeable total.
Also adding to the flavor is the pitch, weather and the wonderful crowds that come to watch the game. There are so many different things that can happen in a game of test cricket over a period of five days. You could be treated to delightful stroke play and solid defence from a batsman enroute to a big score or a fiery spell of fast bowling from a bowler who sends the batsman’s stumps cartwheeling. You might also see a spinner making batsmen dance while bowling to an umbrella field, or a fast bowler nagging away all day, patiently waiting for that elusive edge to be guided into the slip cordon.
Often, the game flows so beautifully, that you can get immensely engrossed in it. A team might be piling on the runs and all of a sudden, an inspired spell of bowling can make the contest even. There are so many pendulum swings that a test match goes through; such is the beauty of this format.
Nowadays there is so much coverage of the sport and the broadcast has a global reach. The viewership experience too has improved by leaps and bounds. Most matches are available in high definition and the channels are increasingly trying to keep the viewer involved. Social media too, has played a role and people can now tweet about a game with a specified hash tag to interact with other viewers and get into discussions with them. There used to be two commentators and now there are three. A quality commentary team can really keep the viewer interested with their conversations.
Stadiums too are getting more spectator friendly. They are upgrading their facilities to give people who come to watch the game in its sanctum sanctorum, the best experience possible. Most stadiums around the world have huge electronic displays to give the spectators all the information that they need.
So whether it is in the stadium or on television, there is enough and more for the spectator to enjoy. These enhancers also make the viewership experience significantly better.
The sound from a packed Eden Gardens crowd, the atmosphere at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on day 1 of a Boxing Day Ashes test, the quiet dignified applause of the men dressed in suits at Lord’s or the beats of the Calypso drums are enough to get a passionate fan’s adrenaline gushing.
A test match is the perfect symphony for a cricket lover, and it is better experienced than explained.