Thursday, June 30, 2011

Test matches

ICC has recently announced its Futures Tours Program which gives overview of the cricketing tours and number of Test matches/ ODIs/ T20s till 2020. One of the thing which ICC could have avoided is 2 test series, as they often do not result in meaningful conclusion. With waning popularity of test cricket, meaningless series is last thing ICC could ask for.

Overall popularity of test cricket, especially crowds in stadiums, has been decreasing over last decade. Apart from England and Australia stadiums are hardly full for test matches, not even in 'cricket-crazy' India. So what could be possibly done to pump up the crowds in stadium? Few ideas based on last Cricinfo podcast and article I had read some time back (I couldn't find article :( )!

Most important sports these days are 'Events'. They are marketed and presented to the audience in nice package as something which would like to have as a part of lifestyle. Take example of EPL, which markets itself as best football league and as a great way to spend Saturday evening. Or tennis Grand Slams, which people aspire to go and watch. With busy lifestyles, it's important to have such sporting occasions on weekends/ holidays, when people can go and watch it. Football matches are played on weekends or at nights during weekdays. Grand Slams, F1, Tour de France are all arranged in European summer, the time when people usually take big vacation.

Even cricket matches in England and Australia are scheduled in summer time, when people can come and watch matches whole day. Test matches in early summer, in say May hardly draw any crowds. So its the occasion which people want to associate with! Boxing Day Test match at Melbourne or Lord's Test. Unfortunately, BCCI fails to create such aura about Test matches. People would flock stadiums if the sporting event is marketed properly. Take example of recently concluded World Cup. People were ready to pay anything just to soak the atmosphere in stadium. IPL which is held during holidays thrives on massive crowds in stadium.

While hosting any test match its imperative that there should be weekend in between. There have been instances in the past when BCCI had scheduled test matches which were between Monday and Friday. It's impossible to get good crowds for such matches. Ideally, as is the case in England, test matches should start on Thursdays.

Now about creating event around test matches. With many people taking holidays during Winter, it won't be very difficult task. Wouldn't it be great to have fixed test centres and dates coinciding with festivals or holidays. For example, how about having Pongal Test in Chennai every year or Republic Day test in Delhi or say Diwali test in Mumbai. If such 'events' are carefully nurtured, people could even think of including such test matches into their itinerary of trips during winter time, just like people plan their trips as per big tennis or football tournaments.

More importantly stadium facilities should be improved a lot. If people have to stay in the stadium for the entire day, it should be comfortable outing with friends and family rather than ordeal of 7 hours in scorching sun. Grass banks and barbecues would be welcome.

Problem is that BCCI takes Indian audience for granted and there is no effort to improve overall experience of cricket watching. I hope BCCI would make most of it's overflowing coffers for this purpose.

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1 Comments:

At 10:30 PM, Anonymous bhadresh shah said...

ALL Test matches in UK start on Thursday; so that the most interesting part of the test matches - 3rd and 4th day fall on the weekend. other events like the fancy dress competition which occurs on the 4th day of test match helps evince interest.
In india, we start our test matches on any damn day BCCI wants to. that way we can squeeze in an additional test match in the same time period compared with uk.

In many centres, atleast in 1/2 stands; the basic amenities like roof to protect the spectators from sun/ rain are not present.

 

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