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Make Tests lucrative

india Updated: Jul 13, 2010 00:39 IST
Aakash Chopra

“How to bring an apparently outdated Test cricket back in vogue?” is the big question everyone seems to be asking. While debates and discussions are gaining momentum, MCC has gone ahead and renovated the format for others to either follow suit or mull over.

The only format to be played exclusively at daytime might now be played under lights and with a pink ball. Obviously, the intent to save the oldest format of the sport is pretty evident.

But what is it that has led to taking such drastic steps to revamp the most classic format? Well, the first problem is the empty stadia and dropping TRPs and second is the lack of interest shown by the youngsters in the longest format.

The first proposal is to make it a day-night affair to cater to primetime television. While cricket at primetime might increase viewership, it won’t be a bad idea to get to the root cause of dwindling interest.

In my opinion, people are staying away from Test cricket for a variety of reasons. First could be the meaningless matches (say Bangladesh v India). Regardless of the build-up, it would take some serious love for the game to watch the batsmen piling up runs against hapless bowling.

But it is not only the matches amongst the unequal, which fail to ignite interest. Even the two top teams playing on a dead-flat track would face similar fate. Getting rid of meaningless matches may not be possible, for how would weaker teams improve otherwise. But at the same time, I’m not sure if getting a royal beating by bigger teams every time is helping them either.

Hence, we may need to tweak the rules a bit to accommodate them till they reach a certain level. My suggestion is to put a cap on the number of overs a team can bat to 125 in the first innings and 100 overs each in the second dig. This might ensure that the stronger team won’t run away with the game and the weaker team isn’t out of it either.

The second fold of the problem is that young cricketers don’t seem to be interested in playing the longer format. They’d rather play in the lucrative T20 leagues than toil for years to acquire the requisite skills to succeed in Tests. After all, one can earn more money in 60 days of T20 cricket than what you’d get after playing for the country in Test cricket for five years. I think it’s time we increase the financial reward for playing Test cricket.

It may not be possible for the not-so-rich cricket boards across the world but since India hosts the most lucrative T20 league, it can do its bit to safeguard the interest of the oldest form of cricket.