Does Test Cricket need a booster dose?….Will it slowly fade away?…
It is writing on the wall that it may….
As such Test cricket is in dire need of promotion and marketing, and how T20 has changed the geometry or effort to rewards ratio.
The India cap stock is trading at peanuts at the moment in the stock exchange. Earlier, a player had to earn the India cap by slogging in Ranji Trophy for many seasons and crash the Indian team door down. Some unfortunate ones who had displayed a world class abilities like Amol Muzumdar, Shivalkar, Milind Gunjal and few others couldn’t even see the light of day, that too after scoring truckload of runs or topping the wicket charts. A guy like shantanu Sugwekar who figures in list of top ten of first class cricket averages all over world could not wear the India cap. It’s an irony that
nowadays, even if you look at the door of the IPL , you are in contention to get a India cap.
With all due respect to Chetan Sakhariya and a few others, I don’t think we are sending the right signals to the Ranji cricketers, by picking a side based on IPL performances. The pertinent question that needs to be asked is, are we glamorizing sending down four overs as compared to 15 overs a day. Where is the effort to reward ratio? Even in their wildest dreams, who would want to be a Test cricketer moving ahead, when you are incentivizing four overs over a player who is working his socks off in the domestic circuit. If four overs is the new crorepati, and the bowler who toils away in a four-day game, struggles to make ends meet, then cricket is in a tight spot. Abhimanyu Easwaran is another such instance of a Ranji cricketer feeling the heat from a player who has done well in the IPL.
I can understand why selectors have picked Prithvi Shaw in the squad given the circumstances that we all live in, and the length of the tour, but in case either of Mayank or Rohit hit a bad patch, I hope Abhimanyu Easwaran is ahead in the pecking order, otherwise he will just be another victim of the T-20 wave. The second important factor that is currently hindering our game is not marketing the sports’ spiritual format. I am all for innovation in the game, but not compromising on the quality quotient. Cricket is the only team sport where you are penalized for having a good defense.
Two new balls in the one-day form has completely killed reverse swing, restrictions on the bouncers have given batsman the license to come out on the front foot and smack the bowlers through the line, field restrictions imposed are dictating the gameplay. It feels as if the bowlers are playing in a cage. It is just a case of fixing something which is not broken. Administrators should remove the handcuffs on the bowlers, and let them roar, we don’t want fours and sixes raining every game, a tight 200-250 game in the 1990s and early part of 2000 used to be the most intriguing, with bowlers making merry at the back-end with reverse swing in their arsenal. Secondly, standardize the size of the bats and size of the boundaries, bats are getting heavier, edges are getting thicker, and size of the boundaries shorter making the beleaguered bowlers more hapless. Third draconian rule that needs to be scrapped is fielding restrictions. Captains should be able to think on their feet, and fielding restrictions only make things robotic. Shackles should be removed, let the unimaginative captain set everyone on the boundary line at the death.
Marketing and positioning are key tenets of any industry. Test cricket is in dire need of it. All the jingles and billboards are only reserved for the domestic T-20 leagues. Why can’t administrators invest and use innovative techniques in promoting their most niche and standard product. For starters, get the former Test cricketers onboard and let them talk about the importance of Test cricket, show documentaries of historic series. Fox sports are already doing that for the Ashes, with their ‘Road to the Ashes’ show, telecasted every fortnightly. The other broadcasters can follow suit. I don’t see any build-up for the upcoming India-England series, it looks as if the series has been fit in to satisfy the appetite of a few passionate, loyal cricket romantics. All the side-talk has been about the IPL, which is still a couple of months away. This is the right time for cricket to take a pause, take a deep breath and go back to what worked best, bridge the gap between bat and ball, otherwise it wouldn’t be long before we Americanise the sport and run the baseball route, destroying the soul of this beautiful game in return.
Feature image by Image by PDpics from Pixabay