It is a well know that empty stadiums & ever reducing viewership have hit test cricket for sometime now, this has created panic among Sponsors & Broadcasters which in turn is It is a well know that empty stadiums & ever reducing viewership have hit test cricket for some time now, this has created panic among Sponsors & Broadcasters which in turn is affecting many cricket associations as they find it difficult to stage the 5-day game. The Day/Night games with Pink ball was the first initiative brought in to restore crowd&viewership into test cricket, it did help draw more crowd into the stadium for starters so to date it has been a success story but is that enough to salvage test cricket? At this present moment in a Test series maximum, 1 Day/night game is made to be part of it which cannot compensate for every other game. This brings us to the next question on what factors made Test cricket started to go downhill to this extent? Let’s analyze that part.
The alarming signs for Test cricket started by the time T20 cricket flourished, but the major set back was not felt until the last 4-5 years. But now except for high profile series like Ashes or when India play against England or Australia the stadiums have become half-empty something that ICC certainly could not overlook anymore. In cricket Fanatic countries like India, Australia, and England if the crowd is losing interest think about the rest, it is a real threat for the game and if test cricket ever needed at most attention it is now more than ever. But does the problem lie in the format of the game to say 5 days is too long for viewers to watch it or is it really the quality or competitiveness of the game? Many of us might have divided opinions in this or few of us might be inclined towards one of the reasons but let’s dig deep to study numbers & facts to concluded it the right way.
If you observed test cricket during the last 5 years there were more results produced than stalemate drew games, which is a breath of fresh air we might think. Because as fans we demand/expect results, but in that process did we happen to watch the competitive game of cricket or it was more of foregone conclusion with one-sided encounters most of the time? Many of us will agree it was the later. When such a scenario prevails most of the games won’t last 5 days right, the stats back the same. In 2019, 22 test matches out of 39 played have ended within four days, more than 50% of the games(56% to be precise) have not gone into the 5th day.
But what lead test cricket to this situation?
If we analyze what led to the loss of the competitive edge from the test game, the two Primary reasons that could be presented are,
- The Raise of T20 cricket.
- Lack of Patience among fans to watch a hard-fought game of cricket with no result guaranteed.
Due to the above-said issues the Test matches were made more result-driven, so adding more spice to the pitch/track on offer was the best quick fix, as a test game can only be concluded with a result if one of the bowling units can take 20 wickets of the opposition. Which did tilt the balance towards the bowling department? The Asian board/associations prepared dustbowls and SENA nations went with Green & seemer friendly tracks, in due course they took more home advantage which gave result-oriented games but the competitive part of it was sucked away. This in-turn lead test matches getting over well within 4th day or even 3rd day, to be precise on many occasions during 3rd day the result of the game was decided with only inevitable said to happen on 4th day morning. This quick fix was a treat to modern fans but does this satisfy ever stake holder of the game? Let’s analyse further.
For hardcore test match viewers it is a loss as they don’t get to see the grit or fight for survival in the game anymore which is the reason test match is called the ultimate format of the game. Also, the board/association who has prepared the ground to stage the 5-day encounter has a bigger situation in front of them to face. There will be a huge revenue loss in this situation, the sponsors & Broadcasters will not be happy as it would be a day minus for their advertisement & TRP(Viewership ratings). Who do they hold accountable for it? The players & fans cannot be held accountable so it will be the association/board who have hosted the game/series. Due to such circumstances, Ireland board has dropped hosting test matches & WI are happy to host more T20s ahead of test cricket. So when such situations occur the ICC has no choice but to come up with a solution so the 4-Day test proposal has come into the picture for starters.
Everything said & done if a trial run is made for 4-Day test cricket will it be a success? Is this something feasible in every part of the world? What are the merits and demerits of it? We will seem more on all of these in my next article. Don’t forget to share your thoughts and views in the comment section.