The Cardiff Test was reassuring for all who live on the romance of Test cricket but fear its demise. The thousands who filled the stadium sent a strong message: Please don’t write Test cricket’s epitaph.
All those who have already written an elegy to its memory will have to confess that the first Ashes Test was a throwback in time, to when a slowly unfolding spectacle spread over five days had appetite-whetting, subtle, dramatic moments which entertained as well as left one drained.
In the end, Monty Panesar's exaggerated but impeccable defensive postures and James Anderson's grit had the crowd in raptures. As the seconds ticked by, the suspense became almost unbearable and when the last ball was bowled, the roar of relief from the huge crowd suggested that England had won. That it was a fight for a draw that had the stadium on a razor's edge just goes to show that no result at times can be more riveting than a victory for either side. And instead of a requiem, this Test became an ode to Test cricket.
However, we in India, or even in the region, have reason to believe that Test cricket is on its deathbed.
The stadiums are almost deserted when the Men in Blue turn out to play in white. This year, not even the lure of an India-Australia face-off enticed spectators to the grounds, despite the contest being sharp and a series victory for
The Sri Lanka-Pakistan series has had many thrilling passages but the turnout has been so sparse that the image that has stayed in the mind is that of a whirling fan cooling empty, wooden benches.
Among the reasons being offered for diminishing returns is that the modern-day man has no time or patience to watch a five-day, tedious affair.
The world we live in has time only for one-night stands. We have ‘no time to stand and stare’ and we get our instant gratification from T20s.
Possible, but why should this apply to people in our region alone? Is it that we in India are developing at a far more rapid pace and are busier than our counterparts in England or Australia, countries that fall in the category of developed nations?
Or is it that we have been so spoiled by a heavy, intoxicating dose of one-day cricket, that we can't appreciate the skillful nuances that are at the nub of Test cricket?
Sport also thrives on rivalries built over a period of time, something that we in India have failed to develop.
There was every possibility of India-Pakistan matches igniting those raw energies that lend substance and thrust to a contest, like the Ashes.
But somehow, the on-off political relationship between the countries hasn’t helped, though even when they have played each other of late, spectators haven't exactly rushed to the ground.
This lack of interest could be due to various reasons, not the least being the way India markets Test cricket and the lack of amenities inside stadiums.
These are issues of serious concern as it can create more divisions in the cricket world, where one bloc keeps the tradition of Tests alive and the other survives on its nostalgia.