Sunday, 22 February 2009

Test cricket is almost dead, long live Test cricket

There is definitely more to the ongoing England-West Indies Test series than meets the eye. And not just because it pits the inventors of the game against its most popular practitioners.

I always felt West Indies' plight is inseparably entwined with that of Test cricket. Or vice versa.

Since the sun set on the Windies empire, the Australian hegemony ran its full course and then the pretenders to the throne, the antipopes -- India and South Africa - staged another coup. By then, West Indies had covered the entire gamut between sublime and farce.

Uncannily, Test cricket's fate has not been different either. First it lost ground to ODIs and now Twenty20 threatens to mothball it and put on display in a museum for hopeless romantics, and reluctant students, to rue its demise.

Lying on her deathbed, Test cricket can only hope for a graceful death. Fortunately, ICC backs euthanasia.

But lo and behold! Just before you bury the seemingly soulless carcass, you realize there is enough life left in the body to throw up the kind of drama which is beyond the realm of younger formats.

The Sabina Park massacre was a throwback to the Windies pomp, a blast from the past, an atavism that warmed the cockles. And the Great Escape at Antigua Recreation Ground proved that at times, a draw can be the most exciting of all outcomes.

What happened in between at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium is backstabbing and both ICC and WICB officials have blood on their hand. Apparently, they can't wait to let it die a natural death.

Test cricket is almost dead. Long live Test cricket.


Gaurav Sethi said...

hmmm nice light read for a sunday evening.

Anonymous said...

An entertaining post Som, but one that is very hard to believe after we've just had a string of very entertaining test series. In fact I'd go as far as saying 2008 was among the best years for test cricket in recent times. Ind-Aus, Eng-NZ, Eng-SA, Ind-SL, Ind-Eng, Aus-SA, honestly just about every series had some exceptional, close and riveting matches.
And when the West Indies can provide a great contest against England, then I think we have to say despite the muck ups by the governing bodies, at the end of the day Test Cricket is alive and kicking. Going by the crowds in countries where cricket is hardly the most important thing on people's minds when a series starts is not a good indicator.

Anonymous said...

NC, nice words of encouragement for a sagging soul:)

Anonymous said...

NC, nice words of encouragement for a sagging soul:)

Anonymous said...

Achettup, thanks. Writing letters with blood is no more in vogue (Sachin says he does not get them any more). But I bled when I wrote the post.

As you opinted out, did we have a better Test season than 2008? I doubt. But when the guardians of the game are just not interested in what they perceive as a moribund exercise, it's difficult to be optimist.

Still pardon my cynicism and lend me some of your optimism.

Anonymous said...

yes with what happened in Pak, its almost dead and the biggest culprits are Lankans

Ankit Poddar said...


i have to say that i agree with achettup here.. though the attendence at stadiums is decreasing, with the matches getting more interesting and result oriented, me thinks the television viewers must be increasing ..

i think the problem with dwindling audience at the stadiums should be attributed more to whimsical attitude of stadium caretaking clubs than anything else, or at least that's the case in the ones in india.

i remember the nagpur test, where the audience had to buy a ticket for all 5 days of the match, or no tickets!

that is absolutely whimsical and threatening to test culture!

Som said...

Ankit, the Nagpur incident you cited is correct. But even when PCA guys in Mohali, after empty galleries greeted Tendulkar when he crossed 12k mark against Oz, decided to lower ticket rates and offered daily tickets at Rs 20 in the Test against England, there were hardly any taker!
My point is not the quality of Test cricket but the shoddy treatment it is getting from the administrators and spectators. I'm not sure if the hoi polloi, the cricket mass, really share bloggers' enthusiasm for Test cricket.
But more than anybody else, it's the administrator, who are supposed to look after the game, have messed up with Test cricket. Can you really expect an IPL match getting abandoned like the 2nd Eng-WI Test? It's all about priority and my concern is Test has fallen down the pecking order.

Som said...

Sam 2, a sequel to the Sam we knew earlier!