Cricket, the gentleman’s game came to the fore in the form of Test Cricket. The game was introduced to us in this form, where they wore whites and took it to the opposition with more grit and patience, where you needed to wait for them to make mistakes and then capitalize. Enter One Day Internationals (ODI) and you’d see a larger audience in favor of that. But Test Cricket was still the champion. It was more like a classic. With the growing popularity of ODIs, which would treat the fans to more number of boundaries and “action”, Test Cricket was not the same. Enter T20s and you got a whole new world now. This was entertainment at its best. Things were short and there was no time for mistakes. With fans preferring the lucrative leagues to the more standard form of cricket, everything began to change. But you’d still see a certain section of fans taking the effort to watch the five-day game with absolute joy. There was only one problem. Somewhere between the intent of the shorter forms and fans’ reactions, a lot of players seemed to follow the ‘hit out or get out’ policy. The result- not many games went into that final fifth day, where the pitch would grin at the batsman’s effort to do something fruitful.
A prime example is the West Indies. Cricket was the lifeblood of the Caribbean. But recent test performances have been nothing short of disappointing. Something that’s even more glaring is the number that has turned out for these matches. Compare that to any Caribbean Premier League game and you know what the fans prefer. The reason for such performances could be many; more interest in T20 cricket, lack of discipline in the longer format and most importantly, the team management and the off-field squabbles that have taken place recently. This isn’t something that cannot be arrested and I’m not just talking about the West Indies when I mention the upcoming talents. Quite ironically, the Under 19 team that took home the World Cup was none other than the West Indies. But it isn’t just about talent. The public should, most importantly, be interested in the format again. What we’ve realized about T20 is that despite finishing faster and always guaranteeing a result, it can be quite banal if one team is stronger than the other.
In November, Australia successfully staged the first day/night Test, while the idea of a Test championship has long been debated to revive the format. So the process is happening and everybody wants to preserve Test Cricket as of now, but we don’t know what may happen in the future. Perhaps, this is simply a symptom of a worldwide feeling where apart from historic tournaments like the Ashes, crowds shun Test cricket. Yet this game, invented in one country and spread across the globe to many others, still has life in it. Let’s find it, nurture it and retool it for our regional audience.