Test cricket August 19, 2009

Tendulkar suggests free Test tickets for kids to save game

Cricinfo staff

Sachin Tendulkar has suggested a plan to revive interest in Test cricket, which has been dwindling especially in India where matches against Australia in Mohali and Nagpur failed to attract packed crowds, by letting children into stadiums for free.

"I started playing cricket when I was five years old," Tendulkar said at a book launch in Mumbai on Tuesday. "But the first time I watched a Test in a stadium was when I was 10. India was playing the West Indies. It is clearly ingrained in my memory and that is one experience no kid will forget. The more we invite kids to the game, the more the sport grows."

He suggested that one stand at every Test ground be kept free on weekends for schoolchildren. "We could have the toppers - either in academics or in sport - from various schools coming in to witness Test cricket. If it turns even 10% of those kids into Test cricket fans, it will be great for the game."

With the permanent addition of the IPL to the calendar, and the compulsory Twenty20 fixture per tour, boards have been forced to cut down on Tests.

Sanjay Manjrekar, the former India batsman who was also present at the event, said it was difficult for spectators to maintain interest over five days. "I think people still love to see the exciting facets of Test cricket - four bouncers in an over or a gully and four slips - but it is difficult to retain their interest for seven hours in a day and five whole days," Manjrekar said. "The masses will eventually decide where the game goes."