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Done but not quite dusted

With an incredible win in Chennai the Indian team showed both in the rankings and the opinions of peers, that they were on course to challenge Australia, reports Anand Vasu.

cricket Updated: Dec 24, 2008 23:07 IST
Anand Vasu

The big question leading into the India-England series was whether the hosts could continue their march towards the top of world cricket. With an incredible win in Chennai they showed, both in the rankings and the opinions of peers, that they were on course to challenge Australia. But the series has raised several other key questions for the game at large and for those that matter in India as well.

Best place to play?

With 93 overs being lost to fog and bad light in Mohali, the game was robbed of any real competitiveness. But it was not as though the fog was unseasonal. At this time of the year in these parts, it's a fact of life and people plan for it. In an ideal world, the second Test should have been played elsewhere. But realistically speaking, Mohali was probably best placed to have the ground ready at short notice and there was also the small matter of Ranji quarterfinals being hosted in four neutral venues - Mumbai, Baroda, Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

How much is too much?

Television coverage of the series reached new lows. While there was little to complain about in terms of the expertise used, the manner in which advertisements cut into the cricket was unacceptable. Viewers often missed the last ball of an over or had to wait several deliveries before enjoying the slow motion replay of a dismissal. Broadcasters point to the fact that they just needed to get in as many advertising spots - what with time being lost to weather - in these times of recession. The BCCI insists it has a monitoring mechanism in place but there was little evidence of any action being taken.

Let there be light

The use of artificial light to assist the light present may not have made a serious difference in this case - there's little floodlights can do about fog, and once the sun sets, the artificial lighting won't be assisting natural light. But in the long term, boards should seriously consider using this option, something that's possible only if they sign a Memorandum of Understanding to this effect before the start of a series. What this will mean is that only venues with floodlights can host Tests, for the sake of consistency, and that umpires will have to be that much more sensitive to varying conditions.

When less is not more

The stark difference between Chennai and Mohali was the crowds that came in. On the weekend in Chennai there were more than 22,000 people in the ground on each day, and remember that the match was very much in England's control till Virender Sehwag's heroics on the penultimate day. In Mohali, there was almost one cop per spectator present and even the decision to offer one ticket free with each one purchased for the last day did not help. Perhaps the increase in the number of international matches in Chandigarh - a city with a relatively small cricket market - was the cause.

Don't squeeze them in

With England having to head home for Christmas, this series could never be longer than two Tests. But, as both captains pointed out, this was far from desirable. For marquee series the bare minimum should be three Tests. At the moment the stipulated minimum for a Test series to count as part of the FTP is two Tests. Perhaps it's time the ICC took a closer look at this.