Taking Tests to Town?

After Eden Gardens and India’s win over there, aided in no small factor by the crowd support that the team fed off, there have been a spate of voices in the Indian Blogosphere crying for the BCCI to cross off all Tier 2 cities from the list of hosts for test matches.

One of the celebrities(and I mean this in a nice way!) on the Blogosphere, Gaurav Sabnis (well, before he pretty much quit writing all together atleast) made this post on twitter: ‘Lovely to see the big crowds at Eden every day. Bom, Madras, Cal, Del, Bang should be the only test venues. No Nagpur-Kanpur type bullshit.’ which set a lot of comments back at him. Then one of my favourite cricket writers Siddarth Monga, wrote this…which is a pretty convincing argument in itself. And a few more articles that I happened to read in support of this idea as well, which I promise to link up if I remember where I read them.

Then today, the normally hyperventilating Ravi Shastri managed to get a sane point in during his commentary stint. He is of the opinion that tests should even be played at cities even further down the pecking order, as far as cricketing culture goes such as the Gwalior’s, Indore’s and Cuttack’s as well. His opinion is based on the fact that there is a massive interest in international cricket here(duh!) so much that people throng the stadium even to watch the Indian team practice(and indeed, they promptly showed a few clips of India practicing yesterday). Plus, in continuation with Rahul Dravid’s views yesterday, this will bring a greater connect between the longer version of the game and the youth in these parts.

I’m going to toe the middle line here. I think you need to have a few marquee tests, as S. Venkatragahavan puts it the Pongal test at the Chepauk for instance, and there’s no arguing the fact that as a player you would much rather play games at a full Eden Gardens with shitty facilities than a empty but posh stadium in Mohali. So in carrying ahead RSD’s suggestion to have 6 tests every year in India lets say 3 of them in Mumbai/Chennai/Kolkata/Banglore/Delhi(I’d rather not but *sigh*). That’ll give them a game every 2 years at the worst. Remaining 3 games, spread them around all the other stadia in India which hold one day games as well. Hence they get a game every three or four years…

What drawing up such a schedule requires is some grey cells so that you ensure that if a place isn’t hosting a test, make sure you squeeze in a one dayer there that year so as to keep people o’er there pleased as well. What we don’t want is a situation a la Nagpur(Jamtha) where the same city hosts almost half a dozen games in two years.

I realize that there’ll be plenty of security concerns for hosting foreign cricketers in smaller towns as opposed to one dayers where they are whisked in and out in a day, but I’m sure if the BCCI decides to pour enough money for this it’s quite possible. I guess political pull within the BCCI will be more influential to who gets which game…

This would be a good topic for a GD in a B-School btw! Hope someones listening 😀

Edit: LOL! Less than half a dozen hours after I post, Mr. Vantage Point reiterates his agenda: Trust Shastri to get it SPECTACULARLY wrong – “I believe time has come for tests in India to go to second tier cities.” NO, IT HAS NOT!!!

Open for debate I’d say…


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2 thoughts on “Taking Tests to Town?

  1. Gaurav March 16, 2010 / 6:52 pm

    Hmm, along with writing on my blog rather infrequently, I have also become irregular in ego-searching on google blog search. So saw this post only today, three weeks after it was made. Now brace for a looong reply. LOL.

    I admire your middle-of-the-road approach. But I don’t get what exactly is wrong with Nagpur, Mohali, and Ahmedabad, that won’t be replicated in say, Indore, Gwalior, Rajkot or even my hometown Pune. Are you saying that the glut of tests at the 3 venues has driven crowds away? Well, I don’t remember big crowds even when tests weren’t this common. I have relatives in Nagpur who have diligently gone for every test match, and from the very start, have been lamenting the low attendance.

    And the low attendance is understandable. First reason, unarguably, is the lower population of the towns, compared to massive metro areas. Second reason, probably more subjective, is that these places don’t have a rich enough tradition of test cricket, for there to be a critical mass of test-watching fans. They enjoy the quick thrill of ODIs. But won’t sacrifice work, college, or even a relaxing weekend at home to go slum it out in the stands. The metros have this tradition.

    An anecdotal example. A few friends from Bombay have been watching tests (and even key Ranji matches) from the cheap, noisy and (in?)famous North Stand since they were kids. Now they are in managerial positions, have seven-figure salaries, and can easily afford (and even fineagle through contacts) clubhouse passes or even better seats. Yet they watch matches there, tests and ODIs, from the North Stand. Because of tradition. Similar stories about friends from Kolkata.

    You simply won’t have that kind of tradition-driven-attendance in 2nd tier cities. As much as I’d love to see a test in my hometown Pune, I know even there, the model Nehru Stadium won’t fill up to even 10% capacity.

    And finally, there’s the “why fix it if it ain’t broke” logic. We already have 5 venues with big populations, tradition of heavy test attendance, and big following – Bombay, Bangalore, Madras, Calcutta, and Delhi. So why rob even one of them of a test match for the sake of second-tier venues? yes, if there is a 6th or 7th test in the year, it should be allotted to the lesser venues. But those big 5 should be the first priority.

    Encouraging second tier venues is a commendable goal. But not at the expense of known big venues with guaranteed high turnout. Or we get half the tests played to empty stands. And instead of bitching about Mohali, Nagpur, and Ahd, we’ll be bitching about the other towns.

  2. ameoba88 March 31, 2010 / 1:56 pm

    Hey, you nice to see the reply!*wow*

    I know it’s pathetic how late I’m replying to your reply….but better late than never.

    The way I see it, you need to find a balance between what you need to do and what would be nice to do.

    Even if 10 serious students of the game are produced by watching a test match at a tier 2/3 city…which would lead to 1 quality test cricketer for India, I’d still say it’s worth it. I’m probably speaking out of my depth, but IMO seeing someone up close will probably help you to prioritise. And it’s the whole experience…not just watching the game.

    I think it’s worth having a test played at smaller venues just to ensure that the essence of test cricket is kept alive even there.(okay, i sound soo old!) And I feel that if marketed properly, scheduled over weekends or festive times…the novelty factor might just draw reasonable enough crowds.

    And a fellow North Stander as well here 🙂

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