India v Australia, 4th Test, Nagpur, 1st day November 6, 2008

Spectator-friendly minus the spectators

Shashank Manohar, the BCCI president, has built a fabulous stadium in his home town that should serve as a model for the rest of the country. But he is now left to ponder the task of filling it. Empty grounds are no fun. They are soul-breaking
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Sachin Tendulkar scored his 40th Test century in a virtually empty stadium © Getty Images
 

I had two new experiences today. I watched a day of Test match cricket as a spectator at an Indian ground in comforts that, in the context of what an Indian cricket fan has learnt to endure, bordered on the luxurious. And then I also watched Sachin Tendulkar score a Test hundred in front of a crowd so small that, with a bit of perseverance, you could have counted them manually.

It was both tragic and ironic. The most spectator-friendly ground in the world's most cricket-obsessed country was also the barest.

There were good reasons to expect a healthy turnout. It is Sourav Ganguly┬╣s final Test and VVS Laxman's 100th, and most of all, it is the Test that will decide the fate of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy which has, over four hard-fought and enthralling series in the last seven years, emerged as the top contest in Test cricket. Yet nothing, not even the news that India's openers were galloping away at over five, could persuade locals to make the journey.

Of course, the journey might have been the problem. To get to the new ground is a challenge. It is 18 kilometers from the town centre, off the highway to Hyderabad, and there is no public transport. An autorickshaw ride costs upward of Rs 200, and taxis more than double that - and even these options are not available for the return trip.

And the local organisers have done nothing to encourage spontaneous urges. Only season tickets are being sold and, though the organisers argue that prices are more than reasonable - 30,000 seats in the 45,000-capacity ground are priced between Rs 750 and Rs 1000 - it is staggering that a daily ticket is simply not available.

It is a pity because considerable planning and money has gone into building this gleaming and well-designed stadium. Ricky Ponting gushed about the comforts in the changing rooms; Sachin Tendulkar said the facilities exceeded all expectations. The fans could not hope for better seating - the entire stadium has bucket seats, some of which are cushioned - and care has been taken ensure there are no columns obstructing the view. There are plenty of toilets and exits and you can even walk from one block to another. Though the stands are tall - the South Wing has four levels - there are gaps for air and light. The security measures are ideal: adequate, but not oppressive.

But what use if only 4000 people turn up for the first day of a series decider?

More worryingly, it points to a larger trend of declining audiences at India's smaller Test match centres. The story was the same at the second Test in Mohali, which is similar to the new stadium in Nagpur. It is comfortable once you get in, but the tough part is getting there.

Equally, there is a discernible indifference towards the culture of Test cricket at the smaller venues. Mohali recorded a huge turnout for almost all of the home matches of Kings XI, Punjab during the IPL and, despite a disastrous run by the Deccan Chargers, the new stadium in Hyderabad - which is a fair distance away from the city - drew in larger numbers than those seen at Test matches in Mohali and Nagpur. And the turnout at ICL matches in Hyderadad and Ahmedabad has been huge, though it can be argued that there have been plenty of free tickets going.

Is there a lesson here for the Indian board? Bangalore has been the best attended Test in the series so far and, though comparatively thin, the numbers in Delhi far exceeded Mohali and what was seen in the first day in Nagpur. Eden Gardens never draws less than 40,000 and the Test-match attendance at Chennai and Mumbai has always been healthy.

 
 
Restrict Test matches to centres that have a culture of and a connect with the longer version. Smaller centres will be only too happy to host one-day matches, still a big draw, and whatever Twenty20 matches the BCCI may conjure up. A rotation system for match allotment is understandable in a huge country like India, but it must also be sensible
 

Prima facie, there is a case to be considered, if not immediately implemented, to restrict Test matches to centres that have a culture of and a connect with the longer version. Smaller centres will be only too happy to host one-day matches, still a big draw, and whatever Twenty20 matches the BCCI may conjure up. A rotation system for match allotment is understandable in a huge country like India, but it must also be sensible.

I forgot to mention my third new experience of the day. Midway through the first session, they started belting out Hindi songs during the over breaks. It felt incongruous at a Test match. Worse, it felt hollow and artificial. There was no one to dance in the aisles.

Shashank Manohar, the BCCI president, has built a fabulous stadium in his home town that should serve as a model for the rest of the country. But he is now left to ponder the task of filling it. Empty grounds are no fun. They are soul-breaking.

Sambit Bal is the editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • IPLFan on November 7, 2008, 10:21 GMT

    isn't denial wonderful? blame the people, blame bcci, blame lack of daily tickets, lack of transportation, anything but accept the reality - that people are simply not interested in Test cricket.

    It is not like Bangalore had capacity crowd on any day. The opening day was a holiday and still only 1/4th full. Only Saturday when India was batting had a decent crowd.

    Even the TRP ratings for Tests are pathetic. Just 3 sessions of this series so far have had ratings above 1. Rest have all been below 0.7. For comparison, all 60 matches of IPL had average ratings of 4.7!

  • Prats6 on November 7, 2008, 7:27 GMT

    The author has correctly pointed out to the fans issues as well. Why would someone travel outskirts of a city which has no public transport, where tickets are not available daily hence it almost is paying 750 for 1 or 2 days of cricket, which is quite expensive. Clearly, Shashank Manohar has been caught on the wrong foot here. BCCI and VCA need to get it act together and offer daily tickets even now, or even give them at a discounted rate for the remaining 3 days of the test.

    Also centres like Mohali, Nagpur, Ahmedabad should not be test venues, even though they are the best in terms of facility, this will kill test cricket ! Have tests at Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai. Save Test Cricket please !

  • ashok16 on November 7, 2008, 7:08 GMT

    I think none of these grounds want to host a test match because it is five days of work for not a lot of money. Which is why they'd rather play to empty galleries and thus convince BCCI to be alloted one-day and 20-20 matches. Yes test matches should be kept to big cities with more of a population so that atleast a few are there to support the test match culture. The big cities should be given more one-day matches to compensate for hosting the test matches. Nobody may like watching test matches anymore but we all follow it with great earnestness and they are the foundation on which rest of cricket is built. How many hits does a cricinfo scorecard get for a test match and how many does it get for a one day match? This will be an interesting statistic and my guess is it will prove that test matches are still *popular* just that nobody wants to *watch* them.

  • Kumar_cbe on November 7, 2008, 6:59 GMT

    Sambit - Nice article.Yes it's a pity to see the decider and a milestone test match with empty stand.BCCI, please think before fixing the venues.I am just imagining how good a crowd it would have been if this decider is held in Chennai or Calcutta (for dada's last test mind blowing crowd).Chennai ppl always love test cricket and they are knowledgeable as well(memories of indo-pak test 1999).I think they should restrcit test matches to bglr,chennai,mumbai,kolkata .

  • SaifS on November 7, 2008, 6:52 GMT

    I live in Delhi and always eager to go to watch a test match, never got successfull till date because of bad managed entries to the stadium and realtively high prices of the tickets.I strongly feel that ticket prices in India are far too high for a common man, these should be compareable to a movie ticket in an average theatre.Spending Rs 250 and then fighting your way in with shirt torn apart and losing a Rs 500 head gear doesn't make sense to me. The tickets should start from Rs 50 and higher volumes would definitely fill up the gap.Watching a one-day match between Zimbabwe and Australia in 2004 at the Harare Sports Club was so easy for me, just went to the venue bought a ticket from the window right then and got into the roaring crowd,it was fun!!

  • kiran.vangara on November 7, 2008, 6:49 GMT

    I am from Hyderabad. Its ridiculous that we doesnt host a test match even though there is a new stadium built. Its one of the larger cities in India with large number of cricket fans. We never get an oppurtunity to watch Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly or our VVS Laksman in his home ground in a test match. about the ticket fee, India is not a country where people can afford spend 1000 rupees for a cricket match. rather than pricing high and having empty stands why dont they bring down the price a bit and encourage more people to come :-( BCCI is making lot of easy money by televison rights cashing from India's larger number of cricket fans, but doing nothing for the development of cricket.

  • Satya_Cricket on November 7, 2008, 6:25 GMT

    The answer lies in one thing. Reduce the no. of Test matches being played. Australia with their weakest ever bowling in two decades, Indians scoring runs in a heave, except Dravid. In such a scenario, playing 4 Tests surely took the audiences away. One more thing, as Gavaskar pointed out, India & Australia Tests are too frequent nowadays. Nagpur is the 7th Test this year. Such ill-adviced itineraries by boards will surely take all interest in spectators.

    Next, watch the boring Test series in World Cricket nowadays. Ind-Pak series. All talk of result oriented pitches will go in smoke. Hope that series in January will bring back some crowds and also sustain interest.

  • SumoRaja on November 7, 2008, 6:22 GMT

    It shows the knowledge and appreciation of the Indian audience. The average Indian spectator can appreciate only masala cricket like 20-20 and will jump up and down like an excited monkey shouting "chakka chouka" "kya shot mara!" He is incapable of appreciating the fine nuances of test match cricket and that every delivery is a tight battle between batsman and bowlers. So like a child easily distracted, he cant sit through a 5 day match, even if he has nothing to do all day.

  • tdigi on November 7, 2008, 5:11 GMT

    Can't they digitally place people on the empty seats? And then have artificial sound in the background for cheers, boos and chants. I mean in today's high tech computer world anything is possible.

    Someone please come up with a software and give it to the BCCI for free. :)

  • muski on November 7, 2008, 4:41 GMT

    The author has hit the nail on its head when he said that Rotation policy does not make sense for Test Matches. Test Should be restricted only to Bangalore, Kolkatta, Chennai and Mumbai. Thats what the Australians do. They do not rotate Tests to lesser known venues like Hobart unless the opposition is weakling. Keep 3-4 standard test venues. However that alone wont help fill the staduim.For GOD's sake give basic facilities for spectators there. I went to attend the last day of the Bangalore test and the toilets were awful. What do you think I would do next time a test is played in Bangalore-pay up and get the treatment of awful toilets or sit in the comfort of my home and watch the match?

  • IPLFan on November 7, 2008, 10:21 GMT

    isn't denial wonderful? blame the people, blame bcci, blame lack of daily tickets, lack of transportation, anything but accept the reality - that people are simply not interested in Test cricket.

    It is not like Bangalore had capacity crowd on any day. The opening day was a holiday and still only 1/4th full. Only Saturday when India was batting had a decent crowd.

    Even the TRP ratings for Tests are pathetic. Just 3 sessions of this series so far have had ratings above 1. Rest have all been below 0.7. For comparison, all 60 matches of IPL had average ratings of 4.7!

  • Prats6 on November 7, 2008, 7:27 GMT

    The author has correctly pointed out to the fans issues as well. Why would someone travel outskirts of a city which has no public transport, where tickets are not available daily hence it almost is paying 750 for 1 or 2 days of cricket, which is quite expensive. Clearly, Shashank Manohar has been caught on the wrong foot here. BCCI and VCA need to get it act together and offer daily tickets even now, or even give them at a discounted rate for the remaining 3 days of the test.

    Also centres like Mohali, Nagpur, Ahmedabad should not be test venues, even though they are the best in terms of facility, this will kill test cricket ! Have tests at Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai. Save Test Cricket please !

  • ashok16 on November 7, 2008, 7:08 GMT

    I think none of these grounds want to host a test match because it is five days of work for not a lot of money. Which is why they'd rather play to empty galleries and thus convince BCCI to be alloted one-day and 20-20 matches. Yes test matches should be kept to big cities with more of a population so that atleast a few are there to support the test match culture. The big cities should be given more one-day matches to compensate for hosting the test matches. Nobody may like watching test matches anymore but we all follow it with great earnestness and they are the foundation on which rest of cricket is built. How many hits does a cricinfo scorecard get for a test match and how many does it get for a one day match? This will be an interesting statistic and my guess is it will prove that test matches are still *popular* just that nobody wants to *watch* them.

  • Kumar_cbe on November 7, 2008, 6:59 GMT

    Sambit - Nice article.Yes it's a pity to see the decider and a milestone test match with empty stand.BCCI, please think before fixing the venues.I am just imagining how good a crowd it would have been if this decider is held in Chennai or Calcutta (for dada's last test mind blowing crowd).Chennai ppl always love test cricket and they are knowledgeable as well(memories of indo-pak test 1999).I think they should restrcit test matches to bglr,chennai,mumbai,kolkata .

  • SaifS on November 7, 2008, 6:52 GMT

    I live in Delhi and always eager to go to watch a test match, never got successfull till date because of bad managed entries to the stadium and realtively high prices of the tickets.I strongly feel that ticket prices in India are far too high for a common man, these should be compareable to a movie ticket in an average theatre.Spending Rs 250 and then fighting your way in with shirt torn apart and losing a Rs 500 head gear doesn't make sense to me. The tickets should start from Rs 50 and higher volumes would definitely fill up the gap.Watching a one-day match between Zimbabwe and Australia in 2004 at the Harare Sports Club was so easy for me, just went to the venue bought a ticket from the window right then and got into the roaring crowd,it was fun!!

  • kiran.vangara on November 7, 2008, 6:49 GMT

    I am from Hyderabad. Its ridiculous that we doesnt host a test match even though there is a new stadium built. Its one of the larger cities in India with large number of cricket fans. We never get an oppurtunity to watch Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly or our VVS Laksman in his home ground in a test match. about the ticket fee, India is not a country where people can afford spend 1000 rupees for a cricket match. rather than pricing high and having empty stands why dont they bring down the price a bit and encourage more people to come :-( BCCI is making lot of easy money by televison rights cashing from India's larger number of cricket fans, but doing nothing for the development of cricket.

  • Satya_Cricket on November 7, 2008, 6:25 GMT

    The answer lies in one thing. Reduce the no. of Test matches being played. Australia with their weakest ever bowling in two decades, Indians scoring runs in a heave, except Dravid. In such a scenario, playing 4 Tests surely took the audiences away. One more thing, as Gavaskar pointed out, India & Australia Tests are too frequent nowadays. Nagpur is the 7th Test this year. Such ill-adviced itineraries by boards will surely take all interest in spectators.

    Next, watch the boring Test series in World Cricket nowadays. Ind-Pak series. All talk of result oriented pitches will go in smoke. Hope that series in January will bring back some crowds and also sustain interest.

  • SumoRaja on November 7, 2008, 6:22 GMT

    It shows the knowledge and appreciation of the Indian audience. The average Indian spectator can appreciate only masala cricket like 20-20 and will jump up and down like an excited monkey shouting "chakka chouka" "kya shot mara!" He is incapable of appreciating the fine nuances of test match cricket and that every delivery is a tight battle between batsman and bowlers. So like a child easily distracted, he cant sit through a 5 day match, even if he has nothing to do all day.

  • tdigi on November 7, 2008, 5:11 GMT

    Can't they digitally place people on the empty seats? And then have artificial sound in the background for cheers, boos and chants. I mean in today's high tech computer world anything is possible.

    Someone please come up with a software and give it to the BCCI for free. :)

  • muski on November 7, 2008, 4:41 GMT

    The author has hit the nail on its head when he said that Rotation policy does not make sense for Test Matches. Test Should be restricted only to Bangalore, Kolkatta, Chennai and Mumbai. Thats what the Australians do. They do not rotate Tests to lesser known venues like Hobart unless the opposition is weakling. Keep 3-4 standard test venues. However that alone wont help fill the staduim.For GOD's sake give basic facilities for spectators there. I went to attend the last day of the Bangalore test and the toilets were awful. What do you think I would do next time a test is played in Bangalore-pay up and get the treatment of awful toilets or sit in the comfort of my home and watch the match?

  • Number_5 on November 7, 2008, 4:32 GMT

    BCCI a joke.

    In business this would be recognised as market manipulation.

    I love wacthing the idians players play, their graceful batting, tantalising spin bowling and desire to win.

    The BCCI is the exact opposite, they have conducted themselves akin to spoilt school children. RIP crikcet

  • kingofspain on November 7, 2008, 3:57 GMT

    It's ridiculous that there are no daily tickets available and the security measures at Mohali sounded very oppressive. This explains some of the poor turnout. It might also be the case that India isn't as cricket mad as everyone supposes.

  • HappyDays2 on November 7, 2008, 3:53 GMT

    Honestly what are the BCCI think they are trying to achieve?? It seems like they are an organisation unto themselves, planning with the government could have seen transport to the ground effected for the match. And then to try and bully the ICC about Guatim Gambir suspension for an obviously violent outburst with the use of his elbow. Not a fan of the BCCI at the moment, I hope Australia come back and win this exciting and tight test series.

  • Muthu_Team on November 7, 2008, 3:47 GMT

    Nice Article, Sambit.. There is no point in giving Test matches to venue's who don't understand the value of it. BCCI Should come up with the list of test venues and do rotation only between them at rather than the entire country. We hope they at least understand this. I believe we all had seen the crowd at Bangalore.. Even on week days there is a decent turn out.. I'm a chennaite and I would love to trade a 20-20 or 1 day game on any day for a test match against good oppositon...

  • AvidCricFan on November 7, 2008, 3:05 GMT

    In this fast-paced life, the slower version of the game is not attracting crowd now. As it is, people are getting enough fun and excitement filled cricket to watch in the form of one-day and 20-20 format. I am not surprised at peoples loss of interest. Just let little time go by, even the large venues will start going empty in the test cricket. This could be a begining of the demise of test cricket..

  • raghu2 on November 7, 2008, 2:10 GMT

    Have Tests played only at venues like Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and try Hyderabad for once. I think watching Test cricket is a culture and is sure available at these centres. Rest of the grounds can have the slam bang variety. I'd anyday watch Laxman and Tendulkar play than watch Yuvraj, Uthappa and Yusuf Pathan belting sixes and fours. I remember Madras had a tradition of clapping for every 25 runs scored and maiden over bowled, which is now lost after one dayers arrived.

  • jayrkay on November 7, 2008, 1:49 GMT

    BCCI is stupid. Any sound minded guy knows that attendence in the previous tests were very poor for one reason or the other- security,week day and long distance with no transportation arragements. What a foolish way to conduct test matches - in the land of cricket, demise is arriving

  • JohnBoxsell on November 7, 2008, 1:14 GMT

    Sambit - I am not sure what the situation was in Nagpur, but in Mohali tickets could only be purchased from the bank (NOT at the ground). This acted as a further barrier to "walk-up" spectators. I got the feeling that there was a low priority attached to having spectators at the game.

  • Gujubhai on November 7, 2008, 0:19 GMT

    More profligacy from BCCI. Why play at such a venue when a greater entertainment could have been served up in Eden Gardens? Is this a demonstration of more politiking by the powers that be at BCCI? It was sad to see such a great occassion reduced to this level.

  • prashnottz on November 6, 2008, 23:39 GMT

    Right Sambit, the need is to develop cricketing cultures associated with a traditional stadium. And pricing of tickets like these is surely not going to help it. It may be also worth remembering that Bangalore and Delhi had sizeable crowds for all days of the test match there. Maybe the ground will fill in on weekends.

  • devesh4mlondon on November 6, 2008, 21:56 GMT

    The choice of a venue for hosting cricket matches by BCCI is fully politically motivated. I would request Mr Sambit Bal to kindly present an analysis on this. During Mr Dalmia & Mr Bindra's days of friendship, Calcutta & Mohali used to be hosting good no. of matches. Since the time, the politician Sharad Pawar has come to power venues have shifted to Mumbai, Jaipur, Nagpur, Ahmedabad,Bangalore etc. It's a pity that cities such as Calcutta & Chennai have been ignored for current Australia series as well as ensuing England series. It's quite a shame. We as expats are peeved by such an obvious pathetic politics of Pawar & his disciple Manohar. Politics will continue to ruin Indian cricket.

  • Slysta on November 6, 2008, 21:12 GMT

    I don't really understand why everyone is so surprised. The game is being shown live on free-to-air TV in Nagpur, is it not? Small wonder that 999 out of 1000 potential spectators are choosing that option - I would guess that the inaccessibility of the stadium and the ticket sale model are just the icing on the cake. If the BCCI were serious about increasing the crowd size, they'd block the TV coverage in Nagpur until mid-afternoon, or tea. If there was no other way to see the morning's play, people would get through the gates pretty quickly!

  • TruSport on November 6, 2008, 21:07 GMT

    One of the factors that go into this is the Indian mindset about distances. In India, 18KM is considered too far away. In the west - say in America - 10 miles for your favourite sport is virtually next door. It's very Indian to expect every important landmark to be practically next door to visit which explains why Indians buy/rent homes giving more regard to distances to work etc. than the quality of life when they reach home. Also India is so hard to travel comfortably in. Planners in India have to consider how they'll get their target group of people to attend their event.

  • SoftwareStar on November 6, 2008, 19:58 GMT

    How about making test cricket more interesting with some interesting rules? Like for e.g. each over that the team delays results in the opposite team's score increasing by the run rate. E.g. if the team has fallen short of 4 overs in their allotted time, and if the opposite team's runrate is 3.5, then their score increases by 3.5 * 4 = 14 runs. (We could take factor of 1.5 or 2 so that the teams score increases by 21 runs or 28 runs respectively).

    This way, captains can get serious about finishing the day's play on time, thus increasing urgency and possible more excitement.

    Right now, captains and teams are just losing out a percentage of their meaningless match fee (Which wont hurt their pockets at all). They also have to take responsibility that if 50000 people spend an extra 30 minutes because of their delay, then it amounts to a loss of 25000 person hours!!

  • Manuu on November 6, 2008, 19:51 GMT

    Matches should not be shown on TV in the host city until the stadium is atleast half full. Ticket prices should be reduced at the door. Most definitely, Daily tickets should be made available. Transport must be looked after otherwise there is no hope for filling the stadium.

  • pran21 on November 6, 2008, 19:47 GMT

    I think the blame is not on T20 or a smaller venue. The organizers should have thought of how a common spectator reach an 18KM distant venue without public transport. For a test match, on a weekday, it is a big 'NO' when someone has to spend 400rs to&fro. Week-end only cannot be considered as there isn't per DAY ticket. All in all, the bigger reason for thinner crowds is 750+5*400=2750RS and the difficulty in reaching the stadium. It should be much lesser and the organizors and Nagpur city should think of better proportion in terms of price and public transport.

  • TrexTrainer on November 6, 2008, 19:46 GMT

    I think they should arrange for public transportation like buses on game days and charge an appropriate fee. But, of course that is only if getting there is the real problem.

  • spreddy1 on November 6, 2008, 19:44 GMT

    My thoughts are in complete agreements with your thoughts. Test matches should not be played in smaller cities like kanpur, mohali, nagpur and also in Ahmedabad. We have seen this year (during SA series and now) that the crowd turnout in these places was abominable. It is better if BCCI restricts test matche venues to bigger cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Delhi and Hyderabad. I don`t understand why they use so many venues for test cricket. The days when people used to come to see Sachin bat are gone....By inaugrating the IPL, BCCI has dug into it`s own hole by hindering spectator interest in Test and One-day cricket. I doubt the huge crowd turnout for ODI`s also...The stands will atleast get filled if the test matches are organized in major cities as mentioned above. Otherwise, it will be a loss for everyone.....

  • aditya87 on November 6, 2008, 19:41 GMT

    I think one of the reasons is the number of draws we've seen in India in recent times. I'll agree that the MAC, Wankhede and Eden still draw huge crowds, but the pitches have to live up to that. I think the problem with this stadium is that it's too far from the city, and people would probably just prefer to watch the game on TV. After all, TV ratings are pretty high for Test matches still in India.

  • SaifQazi on November 6, 2008, 19:41 GMT

    i think this is more to do with the number choices a person has... i mean there r currently three brands of cricket that is bein played around the world... wen there was limited one day matches n no twenty20 concept, ppl came to watch test matches coz they had no choice... now there a variety of brands of cricket to choose from.. n in this way the cricketin bodies r makin things even tougher for themselves.. i wasnt at all shocked to c a thin crowd in all the 3 test matches n the 4th in progress... if a person can have a cricket match ova in 3hrs wid a result, y will he get to a stadium, that is already miles away from his place, for 5days n end up seein no1 winnin it..

    i am a die hard fan of Test cricket... i love watchin test cricket n thats y i am sayin cricketin bodies around the world r makin matters worse for Test Cricket to die a slow death... which i suspect it would eventually!!

  • Raghuvir on November 6, 2008, 19:34 GMT

    Yep, the BCCI can spoil a whole lot of goodness.

    Given that the ground is so far out, public transport should have been put in place for match days (domestic, and international) - the BCCI and the city take the blame here.

    Not allowing for daily tickets shows the arrogance of the BCCI. This test has quite a lot riding for it, riding on it - Ganguly's last test, Laxman's 100th, the concluding match of the series that decides whether the trophy moves to Indian hands or stays with the Aussies.

    The conduct of the BCCI is as appalling as it can get.

  • amarta on November 6, 2008, 19:29 GMT

    India should follow the australian policy of limiting test matches to venues with cricket tradition. Just as Gabba, Waca, Adelaide Oval and Sydney never fail to fill up, Eden Gardens, Whankhede and Chinnaswamy along with one or two others should be fixed for test cricket.These are palces steeped in cricket history and sports mad people. Just to imagine Ganguly going out to bat one last time in front of 100,000 cheering people at eden gives me goose pumps. Or Sachin becmoing the lead scroer in tests at the Whankhede.

  • MaxPowers on November 6, 2008, 19:23 GMT

    I think its easier to watch it on tv. plus you get more angles, replays and commentary all from the comfort of your home. i think the audiance is still there but not really there.

  • WashDCcricket on November 6, 2008, 19:06 GMT

    I can think of quite a few reasons - 1) Let us start with one you already laid out - getting in and out of the stadium without losing an arm and a leg in the fiscal sense. You build a great stadium without access roads and more importantly, public transport. Bus transporation or light rail (since it is in the outskirts) in not an unreasonable expectation.

    2) Cost of watching the game - the common man cannot afford 750 to 1000 rupees to go see a game. He does not have the time either, he needs to earn a living. Start charging by the session (this may not be possible), but atleast by the day and charge 100 rupees or less.

    3) Very few test enthusiasts - one word - boring! You need to get yourself a book to read to watch matches. I am not speaking about myself, I love watching any form of cricket, but with all the cha-ching and the jing bang in 20/20 and ODIs, you can say test cricket mania is fading.

    Cricket needs to adapt to the times. Start with creating pricing and access.

  • pragmatist on November 6, 2008, 19:00 GMT

    Bcci need to examine their choice of venues for tours where foreign spectators could liven up tests. England tour venues are missing a great opportunity. Follow the example of nz and play tests at small capacity venues in places where tourists like to come.

  • Harry on November 6, 2008, 18:06 GMT

    Iam not sure how the rotation system works for test matches. But BCCI has to try out new venues like visakhapatnam for instance for test matches. This way all the grounds will get their share of test matches rather than a few which have a good history. BCCI should be dynamic. Maybe there have been too many test matches held in these popular venues that people are no longer interested, guess they want to view something different like twenty20. According to the article it looks like an excellent ground - but why the hell dont they take care of providing proper public transport? Depriving facilities for spectators in the name of security is not the way to go. Its a pity to see the great sachin reach new heights and only a few spectators to appreciate it. If this is the way the organizers continue to organize matches, then the next time sachin scores hundered or reaches a milestone, its better he raises his bat towards the cameras and ignore the empty stands.

  • gunner4life on November 6, 2008, 17:58 GMT

    I don't know why Chennai gets shunned every time. I cannot remember the last time there was a test match held at the MAC stadium. One of the best maintained pitches and outfields in the country. Sell-out crowds every match. Some memorable encounters in the past. I don't understand.

  • Cricket-Crazzy on November 6, 2008, 17:57 GMT

    With Twenty20 getting more popular, this situation is not surprising. But, I feel the Test Matches should be played frequently in popular stadiums like Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Kolkata where we have high turnouts for Test cricket and very rarely in the small towns.

  • kalyanbk on November 6, 2008, 17:52 GMT

    Can you imagine the crowd for Ganguly's final match in the Eden Gardens? Or the reaction to Tendulkar's Century in Mumbai? This Border-Gavaskar Cup is the summit clash for Test Cricket. Can you imagine the reaction of Chennai's Knowledgeable crowd for India Vs Australia? I think Sambit has hit the nail on the head that test cricket should return to Test Centres atleast till this T20 mania dies down.

  • TwitterJitter on November 6, 2008, 17:44 GMT

    You are right Sambit in that it is puzzling that there was such a low turnout in Nagpur. I would have thought that in Mohali to some extent it was understandable because they have already had 7 IPL matches and people have only so much budget to spend on entertainment. However, in Nagpur I would have expected more in a brand new facility atleast out of curiosity factor. You can stage the tests at Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi but even there at some point fatigue factor sets in with IPL matches going on as well. I don't see a solution. Post IPL, I expect this trend to continue. People will not want to go and watch a game under the sun for the whole day. They prefer to watch it on the internet or on television in the comfort of their homes. It might just be the new reality in India.

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  • TwitterJitter on November 6, 2008, 17:44 GMT

    You are right Sambit in that it is puzzling that there was such a low turnout in Nagpur. I would have thought that in Mohali to some extent it was understandable because they have already had 7 IPL matches and people have only so much budget to spend on entertainment. However, in Nagpur I would have expected more in a brand new facility atleast out of curiosity factor. You can stage the tests at Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi but even there at some point fatigue factor sets in with IPL matches going on as well. I don't see a solution. Post IPL, I expect this trend to continue. People will not want to go and watch a game under the sun for the whole day. They prefer to watch it on the internet or on television in the comfort of their homes. It might just be the new reality in India.

  • kalyanbk on November 6, 2008, 17:52 GMT

    Can you imagine the crowd for Ganguly's final match in the Eden Gardens? Or the reaction to Tendulkar's Century in Mumbai? This Border-Gavaskar Cup is the summit clash for Test Cricket. Can you imagine the reaction of Chennai's Knowledgeable crowd for India Vs Australia? I think Sambit has hit the nail on the head that test cricket should return to Test Centres atleast till this T20 mania dies down.

  • Cricket-Crazzy on November 6, 2008, 17:57 GMT

    With Twenty20 getting more popular, this situation is not surprising. But, I feel the Test Matches should be played frequently in popular stadiums like Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Kolkata where we have high turnouts for Test cricket and very rarely in the small towns.

  • gunner4life on November 6, 2008, 17:58 GMT

    I don't know why Chennai gets shunned every time. I cannot remember the last time there was a test match held at the MAC stadium. One of the best maintained pitches and outfields in the country. Sell-out crowds every match. Some memorable encounters in the past. I don't understand.

  • Harry on November 6, 2008, 18:06 GMT

    Iam not sure how the rotation system works for test matches. But BCCI has to try out new venues like visakhapatnam for instance for test matches. This way all the grounds will get their share of test matches rather than a few which have a good history. BCCI should be dynamic. Maybe there have been too many test matches held in these popular venues that people are no longer interested, guess they want to view something different like twenty20. According to the article it looks like an excellent ground - but why the hell dont they take care of providing proper public transport? Depriving facilities for spectators in the name of security is not the way to go. Its a pity to see the great sachin reach new heights and only a few spectators to appreciate it. If this is the way the organizers continue to organize matches, then the next time sachin scores hundered or reaches a milestone, its better he raises his bat towards the cameras and ignore the empty stands.

  • pragmatist on November 6, 2008, 19:00 GMT

    Bcci need to examine their choice of venues for tours where foreign spectators could liven up tests. England tour venues are missing a great opportunity. Follow the example of nz and play tests at small capacity venues in places where tourists like to come.

  • WashDCcricket on November 6, 2008, 19:06 GMT

    I can think of quite a few reasons - 1) Let us start with one you already laid out - getting in and out of the stadium without losing an arm and a leg in the fiscal sense. You build a great stadium without access roads and more importantly, public transport. Bus transporation or light rail (since it is in the outskirts) in not an unreasonable expectation.

    2) Cost of watching the game - the common man cannot afford 750 to 1000 rupees to go see a game. He does not have the time either, he needs to earn a living. Start charging by the session (this may not be possible), but atleast by the day and charge 100 rupees or less.

    3) Very few test enthusiasts - one word - boring! You need to get yourself a book to read to watch matches. I am not speaking about myself, I love watching any form of cricket, but with all the cha-ching and the jing bang in 20/20 and ODIs, you can say test cricket mania is fading.

    Cricket needs to adapt to the times. Start with creating pricing and access.

  • MaxPowers on November 6, 2008, 19:23 GMT

    I think its easier to watch it on tv. plus you get more angles, replays and commentary all from the comfort of your home. i think the audiance is still there but not really there.

  • amarta on November 6, 2008, 19:29 GMT

    India should follow the australian policy of limiting test matches to venues with cricket tradition. Just as Gabba, Waca, Adelaide Oval and Sydney never fail to fill up, Eden Gardens, Whankhede and Chinnaswamy along with one or two others should be fixed for test cricket.These are palces steeped in cricket history and sports mad people. Just to imagine Ganguly going out to bat one last time in front of 100,000 cheering people at eden gives me goose pumps. Or Sachin becmoing the lead scroer in tests at the Whankhede.

  • Raghuvir on November 6, 2008, 19:34 GMT

    Yep, the BCCI can spoil a whole lot of goodness.

    Given that the ground is so far out, public transport should have been put in place for match days (domestic, and international) - the BCCI and the city take the blame here.

    Not allowing for daily tickets shows the arrogance of the BCCI. This test has quite a lot riding for it, riding on it - Ganguly's last test, Laxman's 100th, the concluding match of the series that decides whether the trophy moves to Indian hands or stays with the Aussies.

    The conduct of the BCCI is as appalling as it can get.