Test cricket February 22, 2010

Fixed calendar can save Tests in India - Dravid

Cricinfo staff

Rahul Dravid has called for India to follow a set domestic calendar within which they would play their annual quota of home international games to secure the future of Test cricket. Speaking on Cricinfo's fortnightly discussion show Time Out, Dravid suggested India use its clout in the world game to regularise its calendar, which other cricket boards would need to accommodate for the good of cricket, said the three-Test format was the ideal standard for international cricket, and emphasized the importance of competitive pitches to make Test cricket more interesting.

India's international schedule has been characterised by ad-hoc arrangements, including the recently-concluded Test series against South Africa. The introduction of a set domestic calendar which included fixed dates and venues, Dravid said, could help draw more crowds to stadiums, particularly in Tests, which have struggled to retain their popularity in India.

"We must have our own domestic calendar, or six or seven months that are ideal for us to play cricket. And play our quota of six Tests and a certain set number of ODIs during that period, and then work around that," he said. "If we do that, at least during those six or seven months, everyone knows there's going to be cricket in these venues. That's very important.

"Everyone around the world needs to recognize that Test cricket needs to thrive in India. Everyone knows now that it is important Test cricket succeeds in India for it to succeed worldwide as well," he said. "People have to come to this realization in some other countries and recognize that India now needs to have a set international calendar for the benefit of the world game really."

Dravid felt the format remained highly sought-after by India's current crop of young cricketers like Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma, though he expressed worry over the uncertain priorities of the country's next generation of cricketers. "I think they say the right thing. They talk the talk, there's no doubt about it. But there is no all-consuming desperation for them like it was for myself or cricketers of my generation to do well in Test cricket. First-class and Test cricket were the only cricket we had. Today there are more opportunities.

In my whole career now, I've played only one Test series [against West Indies in 1997] which has included five Tests and in the olden days that [five Tests] was the norm

"I'm not even worried about the Rainas and the Rohit Sharmas today; they've grown up in an era when Test cricket was important. But I wonder what a 14-15-16-year old today is thinking. I wonder what's going to happen five years ahead and that's why it's important to play more Test matches."

Dravid agreed Test cricket was received differently at various cities across India, and said the financial viability of state associations had much to do with the selection of venues in the country. India's series-leveling victory against South Africa in Kolkata was witnessed by 35,000 fans on the final day, a contrast to a virtual no-show in the first Test in Nagpur.

"There is a huge buzz in certain cities," he said. "Maybe it all comes down to commerce and finally, the viability of things. Every state association is trying to use that Test match or ODI to run its whole program for a year, or a couple of years sometimes.

"But I wonder sometimes whether it's actually viable for some of these associations and smaller venues to hold Test matches, and whether they need to be given the option themselves. But I guess spectators these days don't really make up a large part of the revenue, so maybe that's a factor."

Dravid also spoke in favour of holding three Tests in an international series, as opposed to just two against South Africa or the planned series against Australia later in the year, which fall outside the framework of India's domestic calendar. "Three Test matches is ideal," he said. "In my whole career now, I've played only one Test series [against West Indies in 1997] which has included five Tests and in the olden days that [five Tests] was the norm. In this case, with the talk of the Australian series coming up, these have come in outside of the calendar."

Most Tests played in 2010 have yielded results and proved competitive. Dravid singled out the preparation of sporting pitches with bounce as "critical" in ensuring the trend continued. "Going ahead, if you want Test cricket to survive, you've got to ensure that they are played on good cricket wickets that give everyone a chance," he said.

"Bounce is a critical factor. If you have wickets that have bounce, it allows people to play shots as we've seen with [Virender] Sehwag, Sachin [Tendulkar] and [VVS] Laxman in the last series, and even with [Hashim] Amla. You have people who play shots and play positively, but it also gives the fast bowlers and the spinners enough later on to keep them all interested in the game."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bis on February 25, 2010, 9:31 GMT

    Spot on RD - have an international calendar fixed in advance, with each country playing 2 three test series at home and 2 away each year. Restrict test matches to 5 or 6 venues - Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore (and possibly Kanpur). Restrict ODI's and T20's to a bare minumum organised around a few global tournaments.

    But is the BCCI listening? Does it care? Or do we need institutional reform to have a more democratically accountable ICC, headed by farsighted visionaries like Ian Chappell, with greater powers to bring the BCCI into line for the greater good of the sport?

  • Suraj on February 24, 2010, 22:12 GMT

    Very valid points by Dravid. With the current powers of the BCCI this should be an easy tasks in setting up IF they are interested in doing so. Test Cricket is a wonderful to watch and the one i enjoy the most and would hate to see it die.

  • NAVEEN on February 24, 2010, 8:36 GMT

    Agree with Dravid 110%.....there needs be scheduled domestic circuit of cricket in india for sure.....just a little example of boxing day test ,MCG and new year's test AT SCG. People in melbourne and sydney knows that they will certainly get to see test cricket at those times... And BCCI should also focus on their grounds and their stands...BCCI is the reachest cricketing board ...what i think is they should improve the quality of their stands ..like you see at MCG, loards...and much more....

  • Dummy4 on February 24, 2010, 7:47 GMT

    yeah i agree with dravid some of comments we have to think about this matter

  • Dummy4 on February 24, 2010, 5:00 GMT

    Dravid is absolutely right... India needs to play five test match series against good opponents in countries like England, Australia, SA, NZ not in subcontinent where the pitches are very slow...

  • Sanjeev on February 24, 2010, 4:20 GMT

    I hope after 5 years BCCI adminstration will have Dravid, Kumble, Laxman, Ganguly as members and they should in a prominent positions to use the power in the effective manner. With the Outlook Jumbo and Dada May become BCCI And there after ICC president for sure.......

  • Shakti on February 24, 2010, 3:07 GMT

    Dravid's esposual of Test-Cricket is well-timed and probably would lead to BCCI using its might to see that India has a well-defines home season.As India is currently the #1 Test team in the ICC rankings, it would probably add more substance to the argument. However, there are a couple of points to note here. Wouldn't a 5-Test series really reflect the better of the two contestants. There were talks after India's last tour donw-under, whether the missing test in Brisbane would have given India a chance to justifiably square the series and people still recall the 1974-75 series aganist the Windies and the 1977-78 series aganist the Aussies, where India came back from 0-2 to square the series before stumbling in the last match. And, Dravid himself has been part of the 1997 and 2002 series aganist the Windies where India missed making history by the solitary margin of 1 test.

  • Manu on February 23, 2010, 23:51 GMT

    Test series should be a minimum of three matches between the top teams. Between top teams and the weaker one's there should be one match series only. Also there should be a certain benchmark points system in order to retain test status

  • Manu on February 23, 2010, 23:48 GMT

    We should have 5 years of only test cricket. T20 should be banned alongwith the ODI's.

  • shaurya on February 23, 2010, 22:45 GMT

    I love test cricket to the core. I can even watch a test cricket match btween kenya and bangladesh( if it ever happens) and njoy to the core. Dravid is so correct about the concern of future crickets prioritisig T20 0r other shorter formats that might come up in15-20 years from now. BCCI has to save test cricket more than anything else. T20 is just like desert but daal roti ( read as Test cricket) is what fills the tummy and gives u the real satisfaction.

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