November 30, 2009

There's nothing quite like Test cricket

Dunedin produced the best cricket match of the year, and there has been reaffirmation that the highest form still has its takers
103

It's late on Saturday morning. I was up at 5am despite having gone to bed late, but I am in a state of bliss. I have just finished watching the perfect Test, and times like this make it possible to fully appreciate Harold Pinter's assertion that cricket always beat sex for him.

A good game of Test cricket - it's hard to imagine Pinter referring to any other form - is like five whole days of delicious foreplay, a treat for the senses. Each day leaves you with anticipation, and the final day, the final session, leaves you sated, fulfilled, and with a glow of well-being. No other form of cricket, and indeed no other sport, can match the sensory pleasures of Test cricket - so languorous, so drawn out, and ultimately so rewarding.

Dunedin provided almost everything. The drama. The twists. The contest between bat and ball. Swing and seam and pace. Stirring batting. Wickets falling in a heap and then the batsmen fighting back.

The first day ended even; New Zealand pulled away on the second; Pakistan combusted in the first half of the third, and then a debutant stood up, and with his brother alongside him, stroked his way to a hundred. On day four, the Pakistani fast bowlers, among them a 17-year-old left-armer and one coming back in from the cold, blew the New Zealanders away as only Pakistani fast bowlers can, and day five began with all results possible.

A wobble at the top followed by a fight-back involving, inevitably, the debutant, by now playing with the maturity of one who already belongs, left the last session poised as any lover of Test cricket would want it to be. The final breakthrough was provided by a bowler who had toiled all match without a wicket, who had taken on the job of bowling into the wind so that his colleagues could reap the rewards at the other end, and had swung it New Zealand's way after taking a blow to the finger so severe the physio had to pull the digit back into shape. That merely made it more poignant. Easily it was the best Test of the year: if it failed to move you, cricket will be never be your game.

Overall it was a good week for Test cricket. Crowds turned up at Green Park in Kanpur. The pitch was far from ideal but it was redeemed by the result. And while West Indies were thrashed by Australia in three days at the Gabba, Adrian Barath, another debutant, and only 19, fulfilled an eight-year-old prophecy by Brian Lara by constructing a hundred full of sparkle and assurance.

Barath had provided glimpses of his talent during Trinidad & Tobago's run to the final of the Champions League a month ago, but because Test cricket provides the sternest examination of a cricketer's skills and temperament, it can now be said that he could be the opener West Indies have for years been looking for. At the press conference later, Barath spoke of the allure that the shorter forms held for cricketers of his generation. "But even the youngsters understand the stature of Test cricket," he said. "Test cricket is what it comes down to."

Of course it would be obtuse not to see the signs. Test cricket demands too much commitment from a generation that is so keen on abbreviations that vowels need statutory protection. The new fan is naturally drawn to the animal appeal of Twenty20. And since the money lies there, the players are drawn to it too. The clock cannot be turned back.

But to abandon Test cricket will not only be short-sighted but suicidal. Twenty20 is only a fling; the attraction to it could be as fleeting as the format itself. Casual fans could soon find better ways of entertaining themselves. If all you are looking for is a good time, there will inevitably be better ways to spend three hours. Twenty20 competes with everything: a movie, an evening spent at the bar, even sex. The connection with Test cricket goes much deeper, and is thus likely to endure much longer.

The challenge for the administrators is to not get swept away by the flow but to keep their wits about them. Cricket's foundations are based in Test cricket. Without it, the core of the game will wither away

The challenge for the administrators is to not get swept away by the flow but to keep their wits about them. Test cricket is not merely a romantic ideal worthy of preservation, it is the game's foundation. Without it, the core of the game will wither away.

Twenty20 is wonderful as a sideshow. To make it the main course would be to expose its shallowness. It's not a game where skills can be learnt, much less one where they can be nurtured. Twenty20 can teach players to hit hard and long and fire it down straight or two feet outside the off stump, but if they are brought up exclusively on a diet of the shortest form, cricketers will grow up skill-deficient and will be found out, as many of India's IPL players were in South Africa, in the second season of the tournament, in more demanding conditions. Twenty20 will need Test cricket to breed and develop the players; the IPL and the Champions League will need, at least in the foreseeable future, the international structure to produce stars for them to market.

It boils down to the balance thing. Cricket is fortunate to have found three distinct forms. Space can, and must be, made for each. Playing six Tests a year, like India are in 2009, is bad enough; not caring is far worse. For far too long, audiences have been taken for granted. That can't any longer be the case.

It is staggering that no one thought it necessary to include a weekend in the first two of India's three Tests against Sri Lanka. For that you have to wait for the last two days of the final Test.

The experience of watching cricket on TV in India has grown progressively worse. One of the joys of the Dunedin Test was the cleanness of the TV feed. You could watch the bowler start an over, and indeed end it; no creepy-crawlies invaded the screen while the game was on; and between overs you could watch the captain change the field. Also, somehow it felt like the commentators spoke only as much as they needed to. In India, enduring cricket on television has itself become a test of loyalty.

And it has never been any secret that the heart of Test cricket lies in the balance between the bat and the ball.Yet, Test after Test, venue after venue, bowlers have been obscenely ground to irrelevance. Like Lahore and Karachi last year, and many of the pitches during England's tour of West Indies, Ahmedabad was so gross that it could have been designed by the enemies of Test cricket.

At Cricinfo we can still feel the passion of Test cricket. Our coverage of Test cricket this month has been consumed as eagerly as the World Twenty20 was, and in much larger numbers than the Champions League was. Page impressions don't lie, and all of you who have read our match reports and comments and features have done your bit to reinforce our faith.

Test cricket needs an avenger. It needs men with vision and a sense of mission. It needs ownership and drive. Now, someone needs to convert Lalit Modi.

Sambit Bal is the editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • shrirangkhaparde on December 2, 2009, 10:54 GMT

    Indeed there's nothing quite like Test Cricket. Individual battles on the field, long spells by fast bowlers, an innings of solid defense to save a match, the spin and bounce on a fourth day wicket, the test of survival and so much more. No other form can give you that same pleasure. After 5 days of physical and mental Test, the players rise to another level. It is satisfying to watch. The game of cricket needs its origin, the real form..Test Cricket!

  • Alexk400 on December 2, 2009, 2:58 GMT

    If you ask me , Lalit modi should be awarded highest honour for cricket innovation achievemnt and changing the cricket like never before. As a indian i salute Lalit modi for his vision and flawless implementation. I know aussies/english are just jealous that indian can excel better than them in cricket. I think cricket revolve around india. They should accept it and even they should try to get china , so we will have two biggest world population play cricket.

    Indian Govt should give award to lalit modi. Only thing i want lalit modi is invest that money on scout system (to avoid corruption and highest quality) to find diamond in the rough like Major league baseball does and find 100mph pitchers.

    I strongly believe 150mph fast bowler should get more money than any batsman. They have to work hard 100 times more than dibbly dab batsman who spend less energy like tendulkar.

    Everything in india is reversed. Losing is more accepted than winning.

  • gottalovetheraindance on December 2, 2009, 0:29 GMT

    i love test cricket. i grew up on test cricket. from i was 4 or 5 my entire family used to move the beds into the living room and we would watch west indies whipping australia in their backyard until 3 4 o clock in the morning. i believe we should just try our best to save test cricket. what would help make test cricket more interesting is making sure that less fast bowlers break down with injury. at the moment look at all the fast bowlers on the injured list? Taylor & Fidel & Steyn. Bond, and the list goes on and on. there is just an energy/hype and atmosphere that they bring to the field that spinners dont have. a good spinner is good but a good fast bowler is great!

  • Avery_Mann on December 1, 2009, 22:36 GMT

    'Only' 6,000 people attended the game? That's 5.4% of Dunedin's population. That's the equivalent of 205,529 people watching a test in Melbourne, or 405,000 in London, or 737,796 in Mumbai. Good huh?

  • nikubhan on December 1, 2009, 20:06 GMT

    I love watching Test Matches played in England / New Zealand & Australia. It makes it worth overcoming time zone barriers, getting up at 4 am in the morning or staying up till 2 am. Just the sight of these fantastic outfields fills oneself with a pleasure unrivalled. I'd much rather watch 40 wickets & 800 hard earned runs scored in a match than 1600 runs for 20 wickets taken with great toil.

    Matches played in Asia, West Indies & to some extent these days even South Africa are killing Test Cricket. ICC, please hear this plea of an ardent fan & many others here.

  • AMAR420 on December 1, 2009, 18:25 GMT

    The Test Cricket was its best at the Duneidin it may be more interesting if last pair offered some resistance overall Well done to both teams it was a superb match So, far as the other matches are concerned I think BCCI should learn a lesson from the NZ board that they have prepared supporting pitch......BUT...... due to the fact that the Indian so called Batting batteries have failed & the horror of fast bowling(Which let the Ganguly & Dravid to save their ribs Against SHOAIB AKHTAR) they do not prepare such a fine track. They are the masters of dead pitches. Mr. Boycott... where are you .... what are you not talking about the Indian pitches... in those pitches even your Grandmother can score millions of runs. Keep your advice with you & don't blame a specific board.

  • itsjustnot on December 1, 2009, 18:11 GMT

    Long live test cricket. Or to support the article author's position, the other forms need it. Continued congrats to CricInfo for supporting the paramount form of the great game of cricket. Footnote: "go New Zealand" (I'm an australian supporter, but love the NZ grit!).

  • Shibuda on December 1, 2009, 17:52 GMT

    TO SAMBIT BAL I dont know why you change the contents of your article after publishing it first on the web..You should make the corrections before posting it.For e.g 1) You wrote Mohammad Aamer as 19 year old and only after posting it you realized your mistake 2) You changed the last two lines of your article.. Earlier it was " If only lalit Modi has his heart at the right place"... Please be more professional and dont change once you have posted it..

  • phatgav on December 1, 2009, 17:15 GMT

    Great article. As an Englishman, I am lucky to live in a country where test cricket remains strong, and is probably the most watched form of the game at International level, but some of the credit for making it interesting enough to maintain such a fanbase goes to the groundsman in this country. In general, pitches are capable of producing results meaning the balance between bat and ball is generally good. Having visited New Zealand a couple of years ago, similar could be said and I think the same also applies to South Africa and Australia in most cases.

    It is always going to be more difficult to produce pitches which have much in them for the quicks in the subcontinent, but the old turning surfaces used to such great effect by Bedi and company have all but disappeared for lifeless batmans paradises. I'm sure fans would love to see the guile of a truly great offspinner on against the best batmen in a true test and not simply a non-contest on flat pitches.

  • Rehanbharara on December 1, 2009, 14:24 GMT

    Newzealand won doesnt matter but Pakistan also played good The best part of Pakistani team is that you never know whats gonna happen even if they are playing with some team nobody knows But Win or lose is one part of the game But if a test match is as good as it was i think test matches will not lose charm I beleive the wicket should be helpful to the bowlers where the batsmen makes there way out for runs Anyway good luck to pakistan and nEWZEALAND IN FUTURE

  • shrirangkhaparde on December 2, 2009, 10:54 GMT

    Indeed there's nothing quite like Test Cricket. Individual battles on the field, long spells by fast bowlers, an innings of solid defense to save a match, the spin and bounce on a fourth day wicket, the test of survival and so much more. No other form can give you that same pleasure. After 5 days of physical and mental Test, the players rise to another level. It is satisfying to watch. The game of cricket needs its origin, the real form..Test Cricket!

  • Alexk400 on December 2, 2009, 2:58 GMT

    If you ask me , Lalit modi should be awarded highest honour for cricket innovation achievemnt and changing the cricket like never before. As a indian i salute Lalit modi for his vision and flawless implementation. I know aussies/english are just jealous that indian can excel better than them in cricket. I think cricket revolve around india. They should accept it and even they should try to get china , so we will have two biggest world population play cricket.

    Indian Govt should give award to lalit modi. Only thing i want lalit modi is invest that money on scout system (to avoid corruption and highest quality) to find diamond in the rough like Major league baseball does and find 100mph pitchers.

    I strongly believe 150mph fast bowler should get more money than any batsman. They have to work hard 100 times more than dibbly dab batsman who spend less energy like tendulkar.

    Everything in india is reversed. Losing is more accepted than winning.

  • gottalovetheraindance on December 2, 2009, 0:29 GMT

    i love test cricket. i grew up on test cricket. from i was 4 or 5 my entire family used to move the beds into the living room and we would watch west indies whipping australia in their backyard until 3 4 o clock in the morning. i believe we should just try our best to save test cricket. what would help make test cricket more interesting is making sure that less fast bowlers break down with injury. at the moment look at all the fast bowlers on the injured list? Taylor & Fidel & Steyn. Bond, and the list goes on and on. there is just an energy/hype and atmosphere that they bring to the field that spinners dont have. a good spinner is good but a good fast bowler is great!

  • Avery_Mann on December 1, 2009, 22:36 GMT

    'Only' 6,000 people attended the game? That's 5.4% of Dunedin's population. That's the equivalent of 205,529 people watching a test in Melbourne, or 405,000 in London, or 737,796 in Mumbai. Good huh?

  • nikubhan on December 1, 2009, 20:06 GMT

    I love watching Test Matches played in England / New Zealand & Australia. It makes it worth overcoming time zone barriers, getting up at 4 am in the morning or staying up till 2 am. Just the sight of these fantastic outfields fills oneself with a pleasure unrivalled. I'd much rather watch 40 wickets & 800 hard earned runs scored in a match than 1600 runs for 20 wickets taken with great toil.

    Matches played in Asia, West Indies & to some extent these days even South Africa are killing Test Cricket. ICC, please hear this plea of an ardent fan & many others here.

  • AMAR420 on December 1, 2009, 18:25 GMT

    The Test Cricket was its best at the Duneidin it may be more interesting if last pair offered some resistance overall Well done to both teams it was a superb match So, far as the other matches are concerned I think BCCI should learn a lesson from the NZ board that they have prepared supporting pitch......BUT...... due to the fact that the Indian so called Batting batteries have failed & the horror of fast bowling(Which let the Ganguly & Dravid to save their ribs Against SHOAIB AKHTAR) they do not prepare such a fine track. They are the masters of dead pitches. Mr. Boycott... where are you .... what are you not talking about the Indian pitches... in those pitches even your Grandmother can score millions of runs. Keep your advice with you & don't blame a specific board.

  • itsjustnot on December 1, 2009, 18:11 GMT

    Long live test cricket. Or to support the article author's position, the other forms need it. Continued congrats to CricInfo for supporting the paramount form of the great game of cricket. Footnote: "go New Zealand" (I'm an australian supporter, but love the NZ grit!).

  • Shibuda on December 1, 2009, 17:52 GMT

    TO SAMBIT BAL I dont know why you change the contents of your article after publishing it first on the web..You should make the corrections before posting it.For e.g 1) You wrote Mohammad Aamer as 19 year old and only after posting it you realized your mistake 2) You changed the last two lines of your article.. Earlier it was " If only lalit Modi has his heart at the right place"... Please be more professional and dont change once you have posted it..

  • phatgav on December 1, 2009, 17:15 GMT

    Great article. As an Englishman, I am lucky to live in a country where test cricket remains strong, and is probably the most watched form of the game at International level, but some of the credit for making it interesting enough to maintain such a fanbase goes to the groundsman in this country. In general, pitches are capable of producing results meaning the balance between bat and ball is generally good. Having visited New Zealand a couple of years ago, similar could be said and I think the same also applies to South Africa and Australia in most cases.

    It is always going to be more difficult to produce pitches which have much in them for the quicks in the subcontinent, but the old turning surfaces used to such great effect by Bedi and company have all but disappeared for lifeless batmans paradises. I'm sure fans would love to see the guile of a truly great offspinner on against the best batmen in a true test and not simply a non-contest on flat pitches.

  • Rehanbharara on December 1, 2009, 14:24 GMT

    Newzealand won doesnt matter but Pakistan also played good The best part of Pakistani team is that you never know whats gonna happen even if they are playing with some team nobody knows But Win or lose is one part of the game But if a test match is as good as it was i think test matches will not lose charm I beleive the wicket should be helpful to the bowlers where the batsmen makes there way out for runs Anyway good luck to pakistan and nEWZEALAND IN FUTURE

  • Prash83 on December 1, 2009, 12:56 GMT

    Thanks Mr Sambit Bal for this wonderful article :)

  • ww113 on December 1, 2009, 9:42 GMT

    Test Cricket isn't better than sex.

  • ww113 on December 1, 2009, 8:47 GMT

    Test Cricket needs good wickets.Though Pakistan lost,I would rather watch close matches like this which produce results rather than games on dead wickets which end in boringly painful draws.

  • bohra_1 on December 1, 2009, 7:12 GMT

    Thank you Mr. Bal, for writing about this 5 day test match between Pak & NZL. It indeed was a perfect test match. Thank you NZL & PAk for putting all the efforts for the win. I know my Pak team very well, they always come from behind, and truly they did, though they lost, but i guess NZL deserved the win more. Pak normally wins as history will reflect because of their bowlers, and same happened here. Anyhow, Cricket actually is test cricket, where all skills are tested, and only the best players play. For Pakistan, the opening area, if somehow can be resolved, pak team is the team to watch in the next few years, at least 10 years. Because these 2A`s (Amir& Asif) are the two W's (Waseem & Waqar) of the 90's. There were three test matches going on same days, while Ind/SL & Aus/WI were totally one sided, unimpressive, Pak/NZL game was worth watching and loving the game. It is a lesson for groundsmen also to make sporting pitches.

  • akhilhp on December 1, 2009, 5:58 GMT

    I agree on what is said about telecasting a match in India. It looks very bad when you see the ball being delievered immediately after the ball is bowled. I think Star-ESPN has better way to present the test cricket. they always skip advts even in in between two overs if they see some real fight between bat and ball is going on . I like that.. not the DD or Neo type where they start advts. immediately after the last ball is bowled.

  • 9ST9 on December 1, 2009, 5:03 GMT

    In very simple terms Test Cricket is like a wife, ODI is like a mistress and T20 is like a whore. But sadly in this age of gay marriages, transvestites, blind dates and one-night stands, Successful traditional marriages are rare . Same goes for Test Cricket. That's the main issue. Test cricket has the unenviable task of surviving in a different age.

  • redneck on December 1, 2009, 3:47 GMT

    im spewin i didnt watch day 5 of this test on tv instead of the windies painfull death at the gabba!!! a good shot in the arm for test cricket in a country that needed it! @IPLFan dont credit the ipl for the unearthing talents like Barath and Warner! trinidad and nsw had already included them in their respective teams before the champions league or ipl and in warners case had already made his ODI debut! the fact that these 2 were already in the domestic first class system in their respective country's proves that they were already unearthed well before they ever set foot on indian soil! can i also add that why some teams may select players for test cricket based on twenty20 form, it will be a cold day in hell before the aussies do that with warner or anyone else!

  • RogerC on December 1, 2009, 2:11 GMT

    The last line was written in bad taste. It was absolutely unnecessary to blame Lalit Modi for this. 20/20 was invented by the British, not Modi. If a British person invented the IPL type league, he would be celebrated for reviving cricket around the world. Mr. Bal, why don't you blame Giles Clarke for that sickening partnership with Sanford 20/20, or why don't you blame Kerry Packer for the coloured clothing? They are also anti-test cricket if Modi is.

  • ankit12345 on December 1, 2009, 2:09 GMT

    What an article!!feels like some1 jus ripped open the heart of test cricket fans, and presented it in the open..and I guess the # of comments for this article say a lot about love for test cricket..wish there was a Modi to market test cricket as well about the Pk-nz test.awesome match.great for test cricket(which is supposedly dying,as per media and some money hungry boards and cricketers,though every match since the Ashes has been worth a watch for 1 or other reason,as far as I am concerned) I am not against 20-20 cricket, but if it has to happen at the cost of Tests, I think its not worth it.Also,since I watched the entire 2nd inning of both teams, hats off to the bowlers,and Aamer,Asif,OBrien and Bond in particular for creating magic(I wish India had a fast bowler of similar talent and sheer grit) Looking fwd to watch the last Ind-SL test.finally, I wud request Cricinfo to not publish the articles that show test cricket in bad lyt, and portray that they r speaking on our behalf!!

  • ScottNZ on December 1, 2009, 1:46 GMT

    To all the people talking about the crowd, you obviously know nothing about New Zealand or New Zealand cricket.

    6,000 over 5 days is pretty good for Dunedin, especially when only one day was a weekend.

    Its november and Dunedin is mainly known for its university and the students are all studying for their exams, I have no idea why NZC even schedule tests at Dunedin in November, the weather can be a problem and you dont get big crowds. Im sure if that match was in Christchurch, Wellington or Auckland the crowd would of been twice that easily, and even more on the last day possibly

  • NeilSidd on December 1, 2009, 0:41 GMT

    This is a good, balanced and thought out piece from Mr Bal. However, unless the cricket loving supporters around the world force their respective cricket boards to change their personnel from marketing people to ex top players, the money making schemes will always hold sway. Mr Modi in India, Mr Sutherland in Aus, Mr Morgan in England, Mr Majola in SA et al - are non cricketers. No surprise, therefore, that they always favour schemes which rely only on the fast buck. Although I dont live in India, I have seen their TV coverage over the years, and it is atrocious. Even Ch 9 in Aus relies too much on advertising. Not only the tv coverage, but also the ticket prices charged to fans around the world - especially here in England - is outrageous. So, I would like to see more emphasis on quality cricket and less on blatant commercialism from the ICC and all the boards - i.e more warm up matches before Tests to get the players in proper form, and less meaningless ODIs.

  • tkrishk on November 30, 2009, 22:39 GMT

    Test Cricket is the Primary Joy...it holds the place of foreplay before the actual brief Sex. In fact we dont Mind a draw as long as there was a battle between the sides and there was an match winning effor or a Match saving effort.

    What takes away the fun is the abominable piling of runs day after day for 5 days using a technologically superior bat on lifeless pitches. Watching cricket on TV has lost charm with just too many commercials which allows youngster see only the ball being released ....no visual of preparation, the run up etc. Some mindless commentaries from some former players also contribute to the lowering of charm of cricket on TV

  • victortrumpet on November 30, 2009, 21:39 GMT

    Fair point about the ads on Indian cricket coverage. It renders the game almost unwatchable. What a fusillade of crap! And judging by the frequency and inanity of these ads - India will be full of coke guzzling trailer trash pseudo-Americans in no time. Which bears out the point that Tests will become antique in India.

  • victortrumpet on November 30, 2009, 21:32 GMT

    Better than sex? I pity you mate...and all the prosaic bedwetters in your corner. Don't get me wrong, I like a good Test match. But let's face the facts, despite all the sophomoric hyperbole, it has about as much chance of surviving as a Pakistan/India peace treaty.

  • kingofspain on November 30, 2009, 21:23 GMT

    This is a terrific article. Thank you! Especially the part about casual fans. If you don't already love cricket, 20/20 is just as dull as tests.

    Test cricket is real cricket. End of story.

  • Alexk400 on November 30, 2009, 21:12 GMT

    Blaming lalit modi is an obsession for Aussies/England/SA because he is better!. He made IPL success. He is the sole reason for Indian cricketers get paid in millions.

    Only issue is though , he should give some of the revenue into cricket development not all into pockets of BCCI shareholders.

    Otherwise they will use up all resources , people get tired of same nonsense. As long as India winning in TEST cricket /ODIs/ 20/20 , people will continue to watch.

    For me Test Cricket is fine. We just need West Indies to play well and hope china starts to play cricket. Need more competition. That is all.

  • katochnr on November 30, 2009, 19:55 GMT

    oh come on ashes was more fun surely (though the cricket, did tend to be one sided in most sessions) .. but as you say nothing beats a good test match .. may it last long ..

  • mykuhl on November 30, 2009, 19:52 GMT

    @IPLFan - the advertisment free coverage was not a comment on popularty, but more on the fact that the coverage is on pay TV in New Zeland, and as a result they hve less ad breaks, and are more subtle with the advertising. You would have noticed that everything was sponsored, but that it was done in a non-intrusive manner. This is part of the agreement that New Zealand have with Sky TV. Otherwise the game would have had to be broadcast on their free-to-air channnel.

  • zohair02 on November 30, 2009, 19:24 GMT

    You're trying your best to encourage Test Cricket, which is good. I love Tect Cricket too. But attendance is the only fact that talks. I was not at this game, you were not at this game, I believe the attendance at the venue was sparse, and no ads means no sponsors which means TV audience was limited as well. Can't argue the facts, as much as we would want this format to live. All the talk of "foundation of cricket it in Tests", "real cricket skills show up in Tests" are just opinions. Every format needs skills. Say a football game was played over 5 days. That format would need different skills too - would you call these the real football skills and the 90 minute game just a show? The game will take care of itself. If it can survive, good. If not, then it is what it is. Let's get real.

  • The_Rohit on November 30, 2009, 19:11 GMT

    I totally agree with Sambit on the bit about TV coverage in India. However, with cricket being such a big draw, it is impossible to get ads free coverage. What baffles me though is why is there a total lack of quality in the coverage. The telecasters could charge more for less ads and end up making the same profit, without spoiling the viewing experience. The commentators could be less in the face with sponsor's names (Pepsi Golden Moments, Honda Super Sixes). People can read and recognize a logo when shown on the screen...you do not need to keep saying it and polluting the audio stream. Plus the channels could try coming up with a premium sports channel option. The viewer pays more for less or no commercials. I know purists (myself included) won't mind forking out the additional rupee to get quality test cricket coverage.

  • salmankhan1234 on November 30, 2009, 18:54 GMT

    30 years old women never play cricket, no interest, have no idea on the rules of the cricket, all she knows if ball goes outside ground is 6s and you make noise and cheer, she will watch T20 for the sake of her husband or boyfriend because it's a 3 hour entertainment. I can bet if you had asked her who is the best batsman in the world Sachin or Yousuf Pathan after the first addition of IPL she would say Yousuf Pathan. I hav good friends from India some who don't know how to play cricket and some know how to play cricket. the difference between both friends is the one who don't play cricket have no interest other than T20. so the audience for cricket is quite simple. any one can watch T20 but everyone cannot watch test since players needs a patience to play so the test audience.

  • tick on November 30, 2009, 18:44 GMT

    @IPL FAN,PEOPLE WHO LOVE CRICKET AND PLAY CRICKET WILL TAKE ONLY TEST CRICKET.AND PEOPLE WHO DOESN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT CRICKET LIKE T20.YOU MY FRIEND ARE A PATRIOTIC INDIAN BUT NOT A PATRIOTIC CRICKTER.WHAT'S A VVS LAXMAN,WHY IS HE A GREAT PLAYER????T20 IS A FORMAT MADE FOR GENERATING REVENUES AND NOT FOR A GOOD CRICKET MATCH.PEOPLE WILL COME TO WATCH TESTS WHEN SUCH MATCHES ARE PLAYED.

  • sathish4 on November 30, 2009, 17:36 GMT

    I know exactly what you mean about the coverage. I've not woken up before noon in awhile because I'm having semester holidays. My friend called me up that day and told me to go watch the match. The coverage, the stadium, the pitch, the cricket.. everything was serenely beautiful.

    Can cricinfo do something about the comments section? Follow the Guardian blogs example or something. This thing is rather rubbish.

  • Tushar_Mahawar on November 30, 2009, 17:30 GMT

    Quite an article this. The best bit was about the TV coverage.

  • I_am_Ram on November 30, 2009, 16:14 GMT

    Excellent article Mr.Sambit. Truly the Dunedin test was the best of the year. On the final session on the 5th day, all three results were possible.....Wow...Just a treat to true cricket loving fans....and yes I completely agree with you..."No other form of cricket, and indeed no other sport, can match the sensory pleasures of Test cricket".....You are 120% right...... Also i agree with Promal that there are millions of true cricket lovers out there who wont let cricket die and proving all those who see it dying completely wrong..I have previously watched Zim vs Bang matches with full interest and will so in the future...All we need is good cricket played and I plead the ICC to take notice of this....Please ICC make the right decisions...encourage Test cricket on Good pitches....and make T20 a less frequent affair....

  • jafferq on November 30, 2009, 16:01 GMT

    Good article Mr. Bal. I will always vouch for Tests as they are the soul and spirit of Cricket.

  • inswing on November 30, 2009, 15:55 GMT

    Why was this test so good? There is one ingredient that is clearly the most important in making a test match interesting: the wicket. If the two sides are even roughly well-matched (and all of the top seven sides are) then a good wicket will always produce a good test match. Note that "good wicket" is not the same as "batting wicket." It is high time that strict regulations be imposed on the quality of the wickets. For example, if the combined score of the two teams in the first innings is greater than 1200 or less than 200, heavy financial penalties are imposed on the host board, or something along those lines. Test cricket does not need any artificial "saving." It can hold its own against T20 and ODIs if reasonable wickets are provided, as this match proves. Pakistan and India are especially guilty of making bad wickets, but other countries are not blameless either. If something concrete is done ensure good wickets, you won't have to worry about the demise of test cricket.

  • patroclus on November 30, 2009, 15:49 GMT

    test cricket is the best!! purest... that is cricket really... T20 is just entertainment... not cricket... i hope (without any real hope) that BCCI can produce sporting wickets for tests. already, i dont think any 6 year old boy dreams of becoming a bowler!!

  • Hiteshdevilliers on November 30, 2009, 15:45 GMT

    As usual Mr. Sambit Bal, another fantastic article. You are absolutely right, Test cricket is too dear to be forgone from the game. I believe Twenty-20 is a mere infatuation, much like ODI cricket was during it's inception in the 1970's. If it weren't for the enormous amount of money being generated into the game, I believe twenty 20 cricket wouldn't be on the same level it is today. For me at least, the Dunedin test was much more exciting than some 3 hour big hitting frenzy in Bangalore. Another point I couldn't agree more with is the broadcasting. Indian broadcasting of the 2007 World Cup and almost every series since, the amount of advertising has been atrocious. For god sake, even when the bowler is running in, an ad will play, I mean SERIOUSLY? Sky broadcasting from NZ is crystal clear with out all the clutter of advertising, as it should be. Same goes for Channel Nine in Australia and to an extent Sky in England. I hate watching cricket on Indian television.

  • VVedsen on November 30, 2009, 15:39 GMT

    Test Cricket is Real Cricket. At times, it seems not heading anywhere because it has a long duration. But if even one of the team is thinking, it is definitely heading towards that team. There used to be times, when batting at 2.5 runs an over and getting 400 runs in 2 days would leave precious little time for the bowlers to take the 20 wickets and win the match. But helped by 50 overs game, the run rate has gone high and even 400 runs in a day is achievable. All these forms of cricket are supplementing each other. The 50 over game has made Test Cricket faster and the T20 game is making 50 overs game still faster. Earlier if 45 runs were required in 5 overs to score, it was pretty much a safe case for the bowling team. Now its not quite true. So more challenges for the bowling team. That will make them think harder and come out with a bowling length, that batsmen find difficult to score. All talks about T20 killing test cricket is sham.

  • IPLFan on November 30, 2009, 15:30 GMT

    @RogerC: Exactly! Sambit and the commentors here are raving about the ad-free telecast of this match in India, as if the NZC was responsible for lack of ads and BCCI is responsible for ads during the Indian match. But all that the lack of ads means is that no sponsor was interested in advertising during this match. So no one watches it at the ground and no one wants to advertise on TV, Test cricket lives on the subsidy provided by shorter formats, yet these test fans criticise the very format that makes their favourite format possible.

  • pragmatist on November 30, 2009, 14:59 GMT

    The Test match format is such a different game from the shorter formats - it's almost unfair to make a comparison. We have had such memorable Tests this decade - ODI cricket has had a hugely positive impact on the style of play - it seems sad that all talk is of the death of Test cricket. My view is there's a place for all formats, and the biggest single danger to Test cricket globally is Lalit Modi and his cash machine aka Indian cricket. Cricket needs a balance - between bat and ball, between Tests and T20s, between the Indian cricket superpower and the rest of the world.

  • S_Sen on November 30, 2009, 14:44 GMT

    Lalit Modi is the worst thing that has happened to cricket in a long time. With his strictly corporate attitude aimed at short-term money-making and his calculated indifference to Test cricket, he will destroy the game, beginning in India. Unless the BCCI is guided by people who have actually played First Class cricket, instead of cliques of politicians and corporate prostitutes, there is really no hope for Indian cricket.

  • crickarama on November 30, 2009, 14:43 GMT

    Sambit, you are right on ! How about following the American way for a change? The football, baseball , basketball and hockey games are blacked out in the cities where the games are played unless the stadium is sold out. Not infrequently, corporatiions end up buying out a couple of thousand tickets if it is not sold out. This would keep test cricket alive for a long time. Football stadiums pack in 60-90,000 fans !

  • TwitterJitter on November 30, 2009, 14:40 GMT

    You people are like those insecure housewives always worried about whom your husband with flirt with next. If you are so confident that test cricket is the ultimate and T20 is just a passing phase, what are you people so insecure about? There is a person to write the crap and a few hundred to comment on the rubbish. At the end of the day a consumer drives any sport. Sitting here and constantly trashing the other format will not help your cause. This constant drivel and obsession about test cricket vs T20, Lalit Modi vs your enlightened crowd, BCCI vs the world community is like watching ground hogs day here at this site. Get some new material already!

  • vish515 on November 30, 2009, 14:36 GMT

    And finally.. here's the ultimate cliche " cricket is the winner " ... !!

  • Farrukh_Shahzad on November 30, 2009, 14:24 GMT

    I have an idea to promote Test cricket using Twenty20! Why not have a break in between test match (day off after 3 days!). On that off day play a T20I match and also offer one free day of the test match. This way, may be, some new 'real ' cricket fans could be found.

  • Victorian-Roo on November 30, 2009, 14:24 GMT

    @CKfrombrisbane

    You're confusing Sambit with Sidharth Monga. Mr Monga is the one who praises Indians more than anyone else. Sambit may be guilty on doing the same on occasions but mostly he doesn't mince kind words when other teams or players perform well. And by the way everyone does it to a certain extent so that can certainly be excused. I'm assuming you to be an Aussie becoz of ur display name. Go and have a look at people like Ian Chappell who has always been prejudiced towards his own team openly. Anyways jokers like you shouldn't be given too much importance.

    Right, coming back to the essence of the article. Yeah, its true...after 5 days of hard work when you achieve success. It is bound to give you more pleasure. Somebody needs to hypnotize Modi and inculcate sense into him. I wouldn't be too surprised if Lalit Modi's eye doctor comes out and declares that his eyeballs have taken a shape of a Dollar like you see in cartoons :-) Anyways, cool article Sambit. Good Job.

  • promal on November 30, 2009, 14:13 GMT

    Agree with everything you have said, Sambit. Excellent article and yes, there are millions of us behind you and the rest of the cricket-loving world to make sure that Test Cricket is The Cricket and that it survives through thick and thin. Over the past several months/years, people have been talking about the Death of Test and ODI cricket, but I think there's enough of us who truly love the game to make sure that never happens. We just need more tests (players prefer it too, you know!) played on better (by which I mean fairer) pitches, like Dunedin, and the game will never die. And Lalit Modi can only be converted if people stop following complete rubbish like IPL and CLT20 and the commercial aspect of the venture fails. Money is the only thing he understands and is sadly the only thing that will convert him.

  • Er-.S.R.shankar on November 30, 2009, 14:07 GMT

    Dear Sambit A very well balanced article for discerning followers of the game. Like India-England Chennai test Dunedin test was absorbing all the days the pleasure and thrill enhanced by the clarity of telecast. I wish you should have underscored another salient feature of the test---Brilliant exhibition of pace bowling by both the teams--The art of pace and swing was at display in full measure and Pakistanis can hold their head high as their bowlers have promising future. It was hard fought and deserving win for KIWIS Many 20-20 matches are dull and drab as vindicated by recent champions' league --Not all ODIs are lively as proved by one sided contest of England-SA matches --Some tests may be listless My only request to you is that do not present a picture as if test cricket is at the mercy of artless 20-20 cricket and half baked viewers --As a follower for more than four decades I am sure Test cricket would rule supreme for ever if sporting wickets are prepared

  • giridhar1988 on November 30, 2009, 14:00 GMT

    Fabulous article.Any test going into final session of last day with all four results (win,lose,tie,draw) possible ought to be a great test match! Test cricket will get a boost if two equally good teams play on sporting wicket.In Aus vs Wi, pitch was good but teams were unequally matched.In Ind vs Sl (1st test), it was the opposite. T20 is no match for tests.Even wrestlers like Cena, Undertaker can play T20 if we teach them as it is about brute power alone whereas test is for pure cricket lovers.Only technically & mentally sound players survive. BCCI shud relinquish the rotational policy at least for test venues.Centres like Chennai, Bangalore, Mohali, Bombay, Kolkata, Delhi alone are given test matches.They always produce result. The author has hit the nail on the head by praising the TV feed.In India, we see the start of the over followed by ads followed by the end of the over. As soon as the batter defends the last ball of the over, ads are shown. ESPNSTAR was, is, will be the best!

  • Pawan1993 on November 30, 2009, 12:53 GMT

    Brilliant, brilliant article.

  • RogerC on November 30, 2009, 12:29 GMT

    Only a total of 6000 people watched this "test-of-the-year" live. Everyone else watched it for free (or a few pennies) on TV. Strange, the author and viewers also don't want ads during the match.

    Then how can test cricket survive? Who pays for the TV broadcast, players and the boards involved? Makes no sense.

    Got to agree with Chris Gayle. Test cricket is on its way out.

  • straight4ward on November 30, 2009, 12:17 GMT

    i wake up at 3 am to watch the match... and at the end it was a gud match b/w them but i dont understand why Salman butt didnt play in that match? why your keeping him outside while he is a regular player of the test team? why your giving Imran Farhat a chance, who infact comes after a long gap of time? Well i hope next match will be also a interesting game... looking forward to it also...

  • squidhead on November 30, 2009, 12:10 GMT

    Nice article Mr. Bal, one in which a genuine passion for the purest form of the game shines through, and one that fills me with pride in my adopted home town. I know some here have taken the low attendance as an indicator of disinterest, so I'll try and set the record straight. Dunedin is first and foremost a student city, and many are from elsewhere in the country. The whole town is quiet this time of year. A match held at the tail end of summer would be far better attended. Second, all but the last were working days. I know several who couldn't get off work at all who would've loved to go. Thirdly, it was broadcast on sky as usual, and many were watching from a nice warm home or pub and not the often cold, windy ground. We've had snow the week before Xmas in past years apparently. Finally there is the usual NZ problem in that this is definitely a rugby-loving nation. Whether Test, ODI or 20/20, cricket will always take a back seat. There's a lot to consider before blaming the format.

  • h4haseeb on November 30, 2009, 11:49 GMT

    @ stickywicketnick, i am 23 and i also cant just stand with 2020, people who think that they can indulge yongsters into the audience by 2020 format need a break. This is yet again a good article from Sambit Bal. Infact he is so loyal towards cricket that he didnt even forgive his own country. I totally agree with him about the imortance of test cricket.

  • JGG32 on November 30, 2009, 11:45 GMT

    Super article, in which I have to agree with all your points, especially that of Indian broadcasting, glad to know someone has the same view on it as I do :D

  • WQURESHI on November 30, 2009, 11:40 GMT

    BEATIFUL TEST MATCH I REALLY ENJOY WHOLE FIVE DAYS OF TEST MATCH REALLY PRODUCE A WICKET THAT TEST CRICKET NEEDS

  • WQURESHI on November 30, 2009, 11:38 GMT

    I JUST SEE A BEAUTIFUL TEST MATCH OF PAKISTAN AFTER A LONG TIME DESPITE PAK LOSS THE MATCH BUT I REALLY ENJOY WHOLE 5 DAYSOF TEST MATCH REALLY GOOD GAME OF CRICKET & GOOD FOR THE PAKISTAN CRICKET AS WELL BECASE PAKISTAN IS FAR AWAY FROM TEST CRICKET REALLY GOOD COME BACK BY PAKI BOWLERS 7 I HOPE THAT IN NEXT MACTH PAKI BATSMANS ALSO HELD THEIR NERVES AT CRUCIAL TIMES

  • Percy_Fender on November 30, 2009, 11:34 GMT

    The First Test between Pakistan and New Zealand went all the way to the wire because firstly, the teams were evenly matched and secondly because the wicket was a sporting one. The fluctuating weather conditions too played a major part in New Zealand capitulating in the second innings. While weather conditions cannot be simulated, I am sure we can have lively wickets like the one we have had in Chennai, Mohali and Nagpur in the past if we want Test cricket to rise above what we had at Ahmedabad.Test cricket will always be the real thing for genuine lovers of the game of cricket, the excitement of 20/20 notwithstanding, which I feel will begin to fade away if we have more matches like the recent one at Dunedein. If only we could produce sporting wickets consistently, Test cricket will more than just survive.Of course we must introduce some changes like 90 overs innings and new ball after 45. The toss advantage will be made more even then.

  • ajaygodbole on November 30, 2009, 11:25 GMT

    Great Article. I saw the last days play in India from 6 am, it was like a bollywood blockbuster, it had everything the drama, the action, the emotions :) I think in India also we should have sporting wickets. The wicket for 1st test match in India was so horrible that even a 10 days test match would have ended in a draw. Test cricket is here to stay. It is like a balanced diet and not like 20-20 which is Junk Food,

  • markmansour04 on November 30, 2009, 10:43 GMT

    Great article mate so true that way that test cricket bring satisfaction. Watching a 20/20 game, yes you see sixes and fours but theres no satisfaction by winning compared to a test match

  • stickywicketnick on November 30, 2009, 10:24 GMT

    I'm 21 and I can't stand 2020 cricket. This whole mentality that the youth only enjoy the short format of the game is silly, everyone who supports cricket knows that the legends of the game are born and made in tests. No one is remembered for how many sixes they hit or their impressive strike rate it's the overall talent and character of the player.

    Being a New Zealander is was fantastic and a relief to see a truly great test match on home soil that promotes the format. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of this test series unfold.

  • Golandaaz on November 30, 2009, 10:23 GMT

    it was certainly a great test match. but hardly anyone paid to watch it live on the ground. Also how many new fans was this able to generate? I am a big fan of test cricket but fail to see, why in its current form, anything should be done to save it. Its a product with a dwindling fan base. Sporting pitches or not.

    Also, please you spoil the article by being unnecessarily cynical about Modi.

  • FallsDown on November 30, 2009, 9:59 GMT

    I seriously, sincerely hope a couple of other sports overtake cricket in terms of popularity in India! Then the BCCI might learn to treat the public much better (i.e. better amenities, better coverage)...at the moment, I would prefer to watch a cricket match in almost any other country besides India, at the ground OR on tv, thanks in no small measure also to the dull-as-ditchwater cricket itself on account of the pitches.

    Funny how test cricket can swing from one extreme to the other: the Dunedin test = sport at its most glorious...the Ahmedabad and Kanpur tests = a form of torture so extreme that American GIs are now contemplating forcing POWs to watch test cricket in India.

  • CKfrombrisbane on November 30, 2009, 9:34 GMT

    Its good to see that this guy is writing something about cricket rather than backing his own Indian team as he does all the time.

  • Sumeet.Gupta on November 30, 2009, 9:27 GMT

    I agree with the poor quality of cricket telecast that we are subjected to here in India, especially from Neo Group. However, if I were Neo Sports, what would i do to ensure that with the huge amount of money i have invested to get the telecast rights, my returns are profitable? Well, i'll maximize the ads during the break. It's kinda balancing act that needs to be done so that the viewers are not harassed. Unfortunately, Neo doesn't score much on that account. So while i am tempted to noti actually blame them that much, i wished though that editing could be more proper. It's like watching the coverage right out of Doordarshan's book.

  • Santhosh3186 on November 30, 2009, 9:08 GMT

    @ IPLFan I guess From Sachin,Lara,pointing to Mcgrath,Donald as well as Shane warne, Murali and Kumble all came to the centre stage after TEST Centuries or Five for's

    Rohit, Jadeja, Warner and many more who performed in IPL is not doing so great in test matches. Bharath was an exception.

    More over every one accepts a player by what he achieves in a test match.

  • Santhosh3186 on November 30, 2009, 9:03 GMT

    Bang on DILSCOOP Hope BCCI takes a note.

    Sambit u rock as TEST cricket!!!

  • msnsrinivas on November 30, 2009, 8:53 GMT

    Enduring cricket on Doordarshan and Neo Cricket is a mind-numbing experience. It's like watching third-rate sleaze. Crushes your spirit. Any why does that dunno-what-his-name-is host on Neo Cricket try to be another Harsha Bhogle? We already have one, haven't we?

  • Alan James Sanders on November 30, 2009, 8:45 GMT

    @ Jamrith - an interesting point about the ICL is that by the time most players had sigend up for it, they didn't know that they'd be banned from Test cricket. This is borne out by the fact that as soon as the ICL players were offered the choice to remain with the ICL or to abandon it and return to "official" cricket, they chose the official cricket, which is why the ICL collapsed. After all, the only way they could play Tests again was if they abandoned the ICL. That's a very encouraging sign to me, of the importance that players put on Test cricket.

  • NWorsn on November 30, 2009, 8:25 GMT

    Great point on the TV viewing; in Australia, Channel Nine bombard us with moronic ex-cricketers who spend the entire 5 days telling us how great Twenty20 cricket is. I liked nothing more than when Sky Sports plays the England or New Zealand tests; the commentators don't feel the need to describe everything that we can already see on screen, and the coverage is not packed with ads.

  • punditofcricket on November 30, 2009, 8:14 GMT

    Dunedin match was interested mainly because of the good wicket unlike the flat tracks that we dish out here in sub continent time and again.Perhaps the fact that its begining of the season in NZ helped,where the tracks are livelier.Wickets are found to be flat there towards March usually ..and India benefited during their last NZ tour coz of this. @IPLFan ..Barath n Warner are not IPL/CL discoveries... may be hardcore indian fan like you heard their name first in IPL/CL.Barath has been in the WI team against BD before the strike happened.And Warner ..he came into limelight by thrashing Steyn and co. in the SA's last Aus tour ..

  • s.abhyankar on November 30, 2009, 7:53 GMT

    Test Cricket is here to stay....as long as we want it

  • Shafaet on November 30, 2009, 7:21 GMT

    Ajay caught an important point. Telecasting of most channels are poor and annoying. Ten sports and espn\star are better. Neo-cricket is rubbish.

  • Pramod75 on November 30, 2009, 7:19 GMT

    While blaming IPL and Lalit Modi, no one thought of bringing him on board ICC as a consultant to revive Test Cricket. Show him the money with riders and he can very well revive Test Cricket. On another note, I would say that make some sensible changes in the rule book and not the format. 1. Have sporting pitches with penalties to venues that dont have one. 2. Allow more bouncers in an over. 3. Start calling wides as they call in ODI's (especially on legside). 4. Allow daily tickets especially in India and give free entry to school kids. 5. Start test matches on week ends and not on week days. 6. Improve spectator comfort and experience in the stadiums.

    More than anything else, there needs to be great changes in the stadium than on TV. I believe even if I am watching on TV, I dont get that excitement if there is no buzz on the ground.

  • Alexk400 on November 30, 2009, 7:17 GMT

    I do not blame Lalit Modi for Test cricket issues. I do not think fault lies with Lalit modi. It lies in the selection of players in domestic cricket in india. India do not have real fast bowlers. May be it is diet or gene or people are not looking for tall , well built young people and train them. I think BCCI has to create scout system. In that scout gets some 20% fee or something if he brings below 20s cricketer who can bowl 150 kph consistently. Why not?. I strongly believe some where in the corner of india , we have people with stamina/ strength who can bowl 150KPH. BCCI looking for people on relatives circles.

    I BLAME BCCI on the Cricket Feed in India. The quality is horrible. I saw 1985 benson hedges in india early morning hrs . It was so good the quality...i am not seeing that kind of quality in Neo Production. Test cricket has to have limited advertisement. May be some changes necessary in how it is produced and improve quality. And bring new innovation.

  • jamrith on November 30, 2009, 7:14 GMT

    Great article, and I enjoyed the Test thoroughly despite having to watch it on a patchy flickering on-line stream, but I am afraid Test cricket's days are numbered. The Dunedin Test was riveting, but given the choice, I am sure most of the participants would still sign up for the riches of the IPL over Tests; no better example than the captain of Pakistan, Mohammed Yousuf, who only came back to Test cricket beacuse the ICL collapsed. In the contest across the Tasman Sea, the captain of the West Indies, Chris Gayle, flaunted his usual cool persona but failed to deliver, little wonder given that he has gone on record to assert that Tests are doomed to extinction. Besides, players are much more likely to pick up injuries in Tests which could scupper their careers. The conclusion is obvious.

  • cricketfan0000000001 on November 30, 2009, 6:57 GMT

    WHO SAYS TEST CRICKET IS DEAD ??......these articles seem a bit nonsensical to me. I am certain, even today a Test match brings in enough TV viewership to be easily sustained. What test cricket may not be able to do is compete T20, but that does not mean it is not lucrative, just that T20 is more. But hey!!...so what, Govinda movies had more viewership then Test cricket, doest mean that I make cricketers wear colored clothes (oops we do that) and make them dance (...really oops some fast bowlers do that too). People who want T20, please go ahead and do so, just recognize it as new sport. Time has come that Test Calendar is disengaged from the T20, ODI and whatever. I would like India to play a test series even IPL is on. Those who want to watch IPL will do so, those of us who want to watch Test Cricket will do so. Power to all. I rather watch India B take on Asutralia B on a sporting wicket in a Test, then watch all the stars in IPL. TEST CRICKET HAS A MARKET, so please lets no be dumb

  • Sloth80 on November 30, 2009, 6:54 GMT

    Good article. T20 is great in small doses but too much of it gets boring very quickly. T20 is entertaining but there is no real depth to it.

    I agree that there is room for all 3 formats to co-exist together. There needs to be a sensible balance between the 3 formats of the game, variety is a good thing not something we should be concerned about. Each of the 3 formats offers something unique.

    The worry is that money will win the day and we will start to see the balance get scewed even further in favour of T20 and one dayers. I am confident that in Australia test cricket will continue to be treated with the highest regard but maybe not in other places. This is because the test series is the center piece of the Australian cricket summer and that won't change anytime soon. Watching test cricket and having a bbq and some beers on a hot day is a part of Australian culture. Come the boxing day test Australia could be taking on Bangladesh and people would still watch it.

  • SachinIsTheGreatest on November 30, 2009, 6:52 GMT

    Coming from Cricinfo a reasonably balanced article though snide remarks about Indian cricketers and the board are part and parcel.

    But interestingly Mr.Bal, Indian cricketers were found in South Africa? At least they were domestic cricketers and most of whom would not play Test cricket unlike "Test quality" teams which come to India, can't figure out an off spinner from a leg and then cry hoarse about "pathetic dustbowls" not worthy of being called "test standard".

  • omer_admani on November 30, 2009, 6:41 GMT

    I agree with you on every point. It was a fine test match, though I wish the pendelum had swung the other way!

    If the ICC can capture the moment, then the stage is rightly set for test cricket. It seems that all the teams ar of equal strength, none are complete, and they all bring something distinct to the way the game is played.

    The pitch was perfect-- it supported both bowlers and batsmen. This is the most crucial aspect of a test match, too many matches are spoilt because of pitches which are one-dimensional. This is where the ICC should stamp its authority.

    Moreover, you make a very good point on the quality of commentary. Martin Crowe and company did a very good job of making the test match enjoyable.

    Test cricket doesn't belong to the romantics, it belongs to the fast bowlers, spinners, batsmen, the strategists, and every unique player that emerges and does things differently. It is this variety that makes cricket unique-- it is such variety embroiled in a contest.

  • Ajay42 on November 30, 2009, 6:28 GMT

    Cant you chaps at Cricinfo do something about our abysmal TV coverage that reduces me to tears and will soon drive me round the bend? It is obvious that it is only ESPN/Star that has a modicum of good sense and love for the game and, indeed, cares for the viewer. The cynical and wretched BCCI will, however, sell the game to the highest bidder who, in turn, lets us watch only 4 balls every over.

  • PhoenixFireBird on November 30, 2009, 6:14 GMT

    T20 has it's place in the grand scheme of things as the lure to bring in new viewers / players to the fold of cricket. We have been to isolationist in bringing new players (countries) in the fold. T20 is the best place to bring them in. It's all about entertainment, short and sweet. Wham-bam-thankyoumaam affair. ODIs is where these new people test themselves, it needs a little bit more test of skills and wits than T20. This is the phase where the new entrants consolidate themselves. More like a live-in relationship. Tests are the real game where you need the allround effort, though Test cricket is more of a game of wits and brains, rather than brawns. It also needs physical strength, but what is more important is having it in the mind. Which T20 specialist can withstand hostile bowling for 5-6 hours at a stretch. That is why I think it is called a "Test". It's a test of human endurance (sometimes a test of spectator's endurance, I admit). Let's not say this is good or bad. We need all.

  • ankurpandey22 on November 30, 2009, 6:12 GMT

    There is nothing better than a good test but there is nothing worse than a dull test. look at the first test between india and sri lanka. Waste of 5 days. Make bowler friendly pitches for tests so that matches bring out results and even the batsmen will start scoring because they cant stay at the pitch anyways. Have seperate strips for test cricket which help both spinners and fast bowlers. Test cricket will revive on its own when it starts giving the entertainment. Ask any indian cricket fan and they will remember the result of india australia test matches rather than any T20 match becuase those tests are competitive and bring out results with wild swings in match positions. Test cricket following should not be judged by number of people attending because nobody has the time to watch cricket for 5 days but all of them follow the scores and clips. I follow every test but never gone to the ground to watch one.

  • CricFan78 on November 30, 2009, 6:02 GMT

    Sambit good article but again you sound very insecure about Test cricket. Sat morning was great watching NZ and Pak play a great Test match. However I am not too sure why you stopped from criticising the pitches which were produced in Ashes this year. Cardiff was dead as a duck and Oval was as dry and flat as an Indian pitch. Lords only produced result because of Freddie's heroics. If you want to criticise then have a balanced approach because its all too insane criticising just one part of the world when others are at equal fault.

  • phaedrus_in on November 30, 2009, 5:37 GMT

    i agree with a lot of what dilscoop has said. that said i dont think india will play 10 tests a year no matter how much we would want it. itll be nice to make tests between india, australia, south africa, england and (maybe) pakistan 5 match series and the ones with(and amongst) the rest 3. this would mean these countries can play 1 5 test series and 1 3 test series every year. maybe Ravi shastri has a point about taking tests to smaller cities(as was seen in kanpur) the only way kids will grow to love tests is if they see more of it and matches with results.i wont mind india having dust bowls if thats what it takes to get results. its all up to the ICC and BCCI.

  • juggie29 on November 30, 2009, 5:35 GMT

    This is all good for those of us that grew on test cricket. We didn't even acknowledge the one day game until out of the blue the country won in 1983. Test cricket must change to embrace the new world. It must retain its virtues of changing conditions and pitch over the 5 day schedule (use of the roller, no watering), red balls, etc. Conversely it must rid itself of boring one sided draws, too much riding on a toss of the coin, no ability to change players and at times no incentive for either side to win. Replace this with a set of 3, 45-50 overs a side games that are called tests. Guaranteed results and a new game for the paying public each day. Remove the current bowling restrictions and you will have a hybrid format that will bring in a new generation of fans that are now enamoured with the T20 or one day 50 over formats. Also gives a chnace to the non tradtional nations that can't really compete in the current fomat

  • Farce-Follower on November 30, 2009, 5:32 GMT

    God save Test Cricket in India, if Lalit Modi is the designated czar. He is a businessman who knows that he has to make the most of his 15 minutes of fame. He is surely no great ambassador of the game. The best prospects lie in ex-cricketers, selectors and the media at large espousing test cricket. First of all, all non-Test records should be dumped, and that goes for Sachin's 17000 runs made playing a godzillion ODIs with power plays rendering bowlers impotent. The media and the fans should never give ODI's a higher status than test cricket.

  • The_Tam on November 30, 2009, 5:30 GMT

    I agree with most of the points you've put forth except the swipe at Lalit Modi. I mean is he morally responsible for resurrecting Test Cricket too? What is the ICC's role? Why arent there more entrepreneurs getting into Test Cricket? It's easy to just criticize BCCI/ IPL but very difficult to walk the talk and do something other than bashing them. They're not perfect and have done many mistakes but should it not be any one else's job too to do the so called "right thing"? Why should the world look at IPL/ BCCI to pump money into everything?

  • cricdear on November 30, 2009, 5:18 GMT

    Good words Sambit. I really feel that test cricket is greater than all format. Still of all the commercialisation(IPL) of the game test cricket remains the same interest in good and intelligent cricket followers..

  • karachi_hibachi on November 30, 2009, 5:11 GMT

    Excellent piece. Couldn't agree with you more. Specially about the experience of watching the match on TV. While watching this match I knew it was great because of the quality of cricket, but there was something else that I couldn't put my finger on. After years of crammed in commercial breaks and on screen garbage that destroys and numbs your senses, I had forgotten how blissful, refreshing and calming it is to see what happens between the overs. I love test cricket. More than I did before the Dunedin test. And I want more of this. Please someone listen.

  • vilas on November 30, 2009, 5:06 GMT

    Nice article Samit! The part I found telling was the experience of watching quality cricket with a quality feed on TV sans the marketing and advertisements that seem to plague the Indian viewers. I remember watching cricket in the 90's growing up in India and with the advent of cable TV how enjoyable it was and now trying to watch the coverage now is an exercise in punishment - the endless ad's remind me of visiting a website with 100's of pop-up ads. Not to mention the sell-out commentators..I wish somebody would protest and they would go back to the good old cricket coverage like how they show it in England or Australia.

  • Jim1207 on November 30, 2009, 4:47 GMT

    Why is there a need to reaffirm that test cricket is the best!!! It would be the best form of cricket, whatever happens, and it gives the wonderful satisfaction to fans and also for players anytime, even if its a dead pitch or flat pitch.. or a juicy pitch. We do not need articles to remind that test cricket is the best.. and why many people(like jm13) believe that Indian administrators are spoiling the game!! many people are whining that BCCI has scheduled only 3 test matches for India in next 10 months. Forgive me if I'm wrong, I thought its only ICC who decides FTP.. if they schedule like this, they are the people who needs to be blamed, and atleast now they can republish a new FTP to strenghten test cricket and reduce T20s, but who cares, everyone loves money, including those who criticize BCCI.. tell them to prove not...

  • IPLFan on November 30, 2009, 4:39 GMT

    While singing paeans to the Dunedin Test, looks like the author forgot to mention the poor attendance for the match. I saw some clips and there was the proverbial three men and a dog watching it, as is common for any Test match outside England and Australia. The total attendance for the match for all 5 days was around 6,000. That's right - just over a thousand per day fans bothered to turn up to watch this "Best Test of the Year"!

    As for IPL and Champions League needing Test cricket to produce the stars - it has been the other way round. It is IPL and CL which have unearthed talents like Barath and Warner.

    As for judging the relative popularity of the formats based on CI page hits, let's just say it is the millions of fans watching on tv who fund this game, not the thousands following it on CI for free (how much did CI pay for the rights to cover these Test matches?)

  • jblades on November 30, 2009, 4:32 GMT

    yeah well said Sambit.

    ICC should tmake concrete stapes to ensuring test cricket is the most valued form of the game.

    When you consider the trend and the more approach to the game of teams like Australia initially, Since the late 90s, test cricket has quite often produced marvellous spectacles. I can't stand all this crap about what a good game T-20 is. It's ok... but to make it the main format simply because Indian cricket audiences or whoever are the leading market seem to favour it, well that would be like changing football to five minute penalty goal shootouts.

  • dilscoop on November 30, 2009, 4:32 GMT

    These are some of the steps BCCI should enforce for test cricket to survive in india: 1. India should play 10 test matches per year (no bilateral 7 match ODI series - 5 ODI's maximum). 2. Chennai, Mumbai, Mohali, kolkatta and Nagpur will be the 5 test centers representing the five zones - because of the quality of pitches. No ODI's will be played in the test centres (barring world cup games) for fear of pitches turning flat at these venues. 3. Cash Awards for the top 3 best pitch curators in the country for providing the best sporting pitches during the domestic season. 4. Free admission to school students for test matches. 5. Flat pitches with dull draws (like ahmedabad) will not be alloted a test match during the next rotation (do away with rotation system and move to the 5 test center policy). 6. Like the traditional Boxing day test in Australia, schedule chennai test during pongal festival in January and kolkatta tests around christmas/new year as it used to be in the 70's

  • jm13 on November 30, 2009, 4:30 GMT

    Spread the word, this article says it all about cricket. Sadly key players in Indian cricket administration are consumed with the need to maximize profits, but at what cost!

  • thounder on November 30, 2009, 4:29 GMT

    sambit bal is great writer of cricinfo .and i am agree with him alot of time .when some body talk about test cricket in front of me ..then only one thing come in my mind a bore game ..but after waching pakistan vs kewis match .i engoy test cricket .and i can say test cricket is on his best ..every one have question why i like that match? even pakistan lost that match.answer is sample .bond asif amir bowling .akmals brother s batting .vetory captincy .basic factor i like most about taht match is pitch.if icc change the rules of pitches for test matches that will be batter for tset cricket ..oneday t 20 cricket is mostly for batsman cricket .plz let test cricket is a game of bowlers .then i can see who can make centuryies in top green wickets .i think then you can check temprament class of batsman.in flat pitches usually use in subcontent sucks

  • sonofchennai on November 30, 2009, 4:12 GMT

    i feel noone has to worry about the survival of test cricket or ODIs. test cricket is like eternal love...while t20 is like a 3 hour stand...if anyone worries about the ODI, best look at the TRP ratings and crowd attendance for the Ind - Oz ODI series.....but BCCI as always sucks...The body which was so against T20 and fielded a not so strong team for T20 WC now embraces the 3 hr stand..God save Indian cricket

  • AntointheSwan on November 30, 2009, 4:11 GMT

    Here Here,

    I find watching test matches unlike any other form of entertainment. You don't just watch, you feel the game. The rhythm and flow of play. The gradual but monumental shifts in direction. The shattering, stunning instances that arrest the game's progress.

    The extra effort is required, but once appreciated there is no equivalent.

  • Winfried on November 30, 2009, 4:05 GMT

    Nice article, Sambit. When you write about Cricket and diplomacy (and when you're not hastily judgmental about certain cricketers) you are at your poetic and insightful best.

  • RoshanF on November 30, 2009, 3:46 GMT

    "There's nothing quite like Test cricket" is absolutely spot on ESPECIALLY when four teams are firing. Two of them, Australia and South Africa have been doing their bit consistently. Sadly not so the West Indies, who livened up the game up until the late 90s but not anymore. But nobody can match them when the Pakistani's get going.

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  • RoshanF on November 30, 2009, 3:46 GMT

    "There's nothing quite like Test cricket" is absolutely spot on ESPECIALLY when four teams are firing. Two of them, Australia and South Africa have been doing their bit consistently. Sadly not so the West Indies, who livened up the game up until the late 90s but not anymore. But nobody can match them when the Pakistani's get going.

  • Winfried on November 30, 2009, 4:05 GMT

    Nice article, Sambit. When you write about Cricket and diplomacy (and when you're not hastily judgmental about certain cricketers) you are at your poetic and insightful best.

  • AntointheSwan on November 30, 2009, 4:11 GMT

    Here Here,

    I find watching test matches unlike any other form of entertainment. You don't just watch, you feel the game. The rhythm and flow of play. The gradual but monumental shifts in direction. The shattering, stunning instances that arrest the game's progress.

    The extra effort is required, but once appreciated there is no equivalent.

  • sonofchennai on November 30, 2009, 4:12 GMT

    i feel noone has to worry about the survival of test cricket or ODIs. test cricket is like eternal love...while t20 is like a 3 hour stand...if anyone worries about the ODI, best look at the TRP ratings and crowd attendance for the Ind - Oz ODI series.....but BCCI as always sucks...The body which was so against T20 and fielded a not so strong team for T20 WC now embraces the 3 hr stand..God save Indian cricket

  • thounder on November 30, 2009, 4:29 GMT

    sambit bal is great writer of cricinfo .and i am agree with him alot of time .when some body talk about test cricket in front of me ..then only one thing come in my mind a bore game ..but after waching pakistan vs kewis match .i engoy test cricket .and i can say test cricket is on his best ..every one have question why i like that match? even pakistan lost that match.answer is sample .bond asif amir bowling .akmals brother s batting .vetory captincy .basic factor i like most about taht match is pitch.if icc change the rules of pitches for test matches that will be batter for tset cricket ..oneday t 20 cricket is mostly for batsman cricket .plz let test cricket is a game of bowlers .then i can see who can make centuryies in top green wickets .i think then you can check temprament class of batsman.in flat pitches usually use in subcontent sucks

  • jm13 on November 30, 2009, 4:30 GMT

    Spread the word, this article says it all about cricket. Sadly key players in Indian cricket administration are consumed with the need to maximize profits, but at what cost!

  • dilscoop on November 30, 2009, 4:32 GMT

    These are some of the steps BCCI should enforce for test cricket to survive in india: 1. India should play 10 test matches per year (no bilateral 7 match ODI series - 5 ODI's maximum). 2. Chennai, Mumbai, Mohali, kolkatta and Nagpur will be the 5 test centers representing the five zones - because of the quality of pitches. No ODI's will be played in the test centres (barring world cup games) for fear of pitches turning flat at these venues. 3. Cash Awards for the top 3 best pitch curators in the country for providing the best sporting pitches during the domestic season. 4. Free admission to school students for test matches. 5. Flat pitches with dull draws (like ahmedabad) will not be alloted a test match during the next rotation (do away with rotation system and move to the 5 test center policy). 6. Like the traditional Boxing day test in Australia, schedule chennai test during pongal festival in January and kolkatta tests around christmas/new year as it used to be in the 70's

  • jblades on November 30, 2009, 4:32 GMT

    yeah well said Sambit.

    ICC should tmake concrete stapes to ensuring test cricket is the most valued form of the game.

    When you consider the trend and the more approach to the game of teams like Australia initially, Since the late 90s, test cricket has quite often produced marvellous spectacles. I can't stand all this crap about what a good game T-20 is. It's ok... but to make it the main format simply because Indian cricket audiences or whoever are the leading market seem to favour it, well that would be like changing football to five minute penalty goal shootouts.

  • IPLFan on November 30, 2009, 4:39 GMT

    While singing paeans to the Dunedin Test, looks like the author forgot to mention the poor attendance for the match. I saw some clips and there was the proverbial three men and a dog watching it, as is common for any Test match outside England and Australia. The total attendance for the match for all 5 days was around 6,000. That's right - just over a thousand per day fans bothered to turn up to watch this "Best Test of the Year"!

    As for IPL and Champions League needing Test cricket to produce the stars - it has been the other way round. It is IPL and CL which have unearthed talents like Barath and Warner.

    As for judging the relative popularity of the formats based on CI page hits, let's just say it is the millions of fans watching on tv who fund this game, not the thousands following it on CI for free (how much did CI pay for the rights to cover these Test matches?)

  • Jim1207 on November 30, 2009, 4:47 GMT

    Why is there a need to reaffirm that test cricket is the best!!! It would be the best form of cricket, whatever happens, and it gives the wonderful satisfaction to fans and also for players anytime, even if its a dead pitch or flat pitch.. or a juicy pitch. We do not need articles to remind that test cricket is the best.. and why many people(like jm13) believe that Indian administrators are spoiling the game!! many people are whining that BCCI has scheduled only 3 test matches for India in next 10 months. Forgive me if I'm wrong, I thought its only ICC who decides FTP.. if they schedule like this, they are the people who needs to be blamed, and atleast now they can republish a new FTP to strenghten test cricket and reduce T20s, but who cares, everyone loves money, including those who criticize BCCI.. tell them to prove not...