Is Test Cricket Dying in India?
Congratulations to MSD and team for a well deserved victory over the Aussies. I think we played quite well in friendly conditions and the Aussies did not capitalise on opportunities that they were given throughout the series.
Moving onto the topic of discussion, have you been reading articles (largely in the western media) predicting the death of test cricket in India due to the 'hugely popular' IPL? If you haven't, here is a sample - 1. 2. 3.
The common narrative in all these articles is - Twenty 20 has taken off, stadiums are empty for test matches and the natives have no appreciation for the finer points of Test cricket. They like bang bang twenty 20 cricket over other forms. Being a fan of cricket (any), I found this very irritating. Naturally, I investigated this issue further. Here is what I found -
1. 48 million viewers watched the test series between India versus South Africa. 50 million watched India versus Sri Lanka. Mind you, neither of these teams enjoy the popularity of an India versus Pakistan or an India versus Australia series
2. On the day of the final test match between India and Australia, I was zipping around the city for client meetings. Everybody seemed to be glued to the test match. Either through TVs in their offices or other ways like web, mobile etc. In my office, almost every guy kept an eye on the score during the entire series. Now, that does not appear to be evidence against test cricket
3. I also called a few friends across the country and almost everybody was following the series. Now you can argue all of this is anecdotal information and that we need hard statistics.
Thankfully, the results are in. In the first 18 days of the Australia series, 27 million watched India versus Australia. How different is this from the IPL? 31 million watched the IPL during the first 18 days. In other words, there is hardly a difference between IPL and the popular India versus Australia series.
4. It is irritating to read about how unpopular Test cricket is India. I know that most of these conclusions are based on spectators in our stadiums. One journalist pointed out to the almost empty stands in Mohali to arrive at the conclusion that test cricket was dying in India. Our friend probably did not read this story about half empty Mohali during an IPL match. These journalists also probably missed this story as well. The fact of the matter is that going to a stadium to watch Test cricket is a horrible experience in India. The facilities are poor, no action replays and the tickets are worth more than a month's cable connection. Yes, 30000 people do watch Test cricket at Lords but what million of UK waste their time at work discussing the latest test match? Hardly anybody (They probably do that for Football). Whereas we Indians waste a lot of time at work discussing test cricket at work. (pun intended)
Most of these 'Test cricket is dead' stories are written by Journalists who hate the BCCI. They think that the BCCI wants to kill Test cricket and occupy the world or something like that. The reality is that India played 17 test matches during the last 12 months. One of the highest amongst all teams.
Please attack the BCCI as much as you wish but please leave us test cricket followers alone. This is India and we love cricket, any cricket.