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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

India vs South Africa: Virat Kohli to BCCI - Stick to a few, strong Test venues

Ind vs SA: As someone who has always batted for Test cricket, Kohli’s call comes at a time when interest in the game’s most challenging format is waning across countries.

cricket Updated: Oct 22, 2019 20:24 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
Ranchi: Indian captain Virat Kohli celebrates the dismissal of South Africa's Quinton de Kock.
Ranchi: Indian captain Virat Kohli celebrates the dismissal of South Africa's Quinton de Kock.(PTI)
         

After India produced another imperious performance in front of swathes of empty seats at the JSCA International Stadium Complex here, skipper Virat Kohli called for an end to playing Tests all over the country. “We’ve been discussing this for a long time now. In my opinion, we should have five strong Test centres. Period,” said Kohli after India won the series against South Africa 3-0 here on Tuesday. “Look, if you want to keep Test cricket alive and exciting, it can’t be spread over so many places where people turn up or they don’t,” he said.

Also Read: Kohli speaks about Ganguly’s appointment as BCCI president

“I agree that you have state associations, rotation and giving games and all that... That is fine in T20 and ODI cricket but for Test cricket, teams coming to India should know we’re going to play at these five centres and nowhere else; these are the pitches we can expect; these are the kind of people who are going to come to watch.

“That becomes a challenge already when you are leaving the shores because we go to any place, we know we are having four Tests at these venues. This is what the pitch is going to offer. It’s going to be full stadium, the crowd will be behind the team.”

As someone who has always batted for Test cricket, Kohli’s call comes at a time when interest in the game’s most challenging format is waning across countries. Despite a number of free tickets to schools and security forces the Jharkhand State Cricket Association distributed, the turnout here, like in Visakhapatnam and Pune, venues for the other Tests in this series, was poor.

Also Read: Rohit Sharma scripts a first in Ind-SA 27-year bilateral Test history

Time was when India would play Tests regularly in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Kanpur. But with state associations getting richer through their share of massive broadcasting revenue and new stadiums being built, and with the hope of drawing bigger crowds in smaller cities, BCCI started a policy of taking games to multiple venues. This was the second Test in Ranchi.

From when South Africa last came to India in 2015 to this series, India has hosted 26 Tests in 16 cities. There hasn’t been a Test in Mumbai and Chennai since December, 2016.

Nine of England’s 32 Tests in the time have been at Lord’s, the rest spread over nine centres. Australia have held 21 Tests in six venues in the corresponding period with Melbourne given the Boxing Day Test that begins every year on December 26.

Also Read: Kohli surpasses Azharuddin to script Test captaincy record for India

South Africa, the other country which follows the ritual of holding a Boxing Day Test, has held 24 Tests from 2015-16 in seven cities with Potchefstroom and Bloemfontein holding one Test each.

Congratulated Sourav

Kohli said it was great that Sourav Ganguly will become BCCI president. “I have congratulated him,” he said. Kohli said Ganguly has not asked him about the team’s plans for MS Dhoni, who has not played since the World Cup in England. “He (Ganguly) will get in touch with me when he has to,” said Kohli.