Gideon Haigh
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Cricket historian and writer in Melbourne

Bring on the controversy

The five-day game has been rendered dull by wall-to-wall tours and context-less competition. A little scandal occasionally wouldn't go amiss

Gideon Haigh

March 15, 2010

Comments: 34 | Text size: A | A

India's newspapers react with anger to the umpiring during the Sydney Test, January 7, 2008
If only a Test cricket viewership survey had been taken in January 2008, Indians could well have been seen to be more interested in the form © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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Test cricket is in trouble. I know. I read it in the papers, saw it on television and heard on radio. It's all over the internet too. That modern zeitgeist-o-meter, the Google search, reveals a panoply of greats past and present opining about the eclipse of the five-day format: Sachin Tendulkar, Kumar Sangakkara, Greg Chappell, Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid, Matthew Hayden, Richard Hadlee, Gary Kirsten, Michael Vaughan. Not to mention Chris Gayle, for whom, of course, it's no biggie: he is more concerned about his next haircut.

Oh, and there's a survey too, on which the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald went to town last November. Commissioned by the Marylebone Cricket Club, which not so long ago would have solicited public opinion by offering whisky sours all round at White's or the Athenaeum, it sought the views of fans in India, New Zealand and South Africa on their preferred forms of the game. There were horror-struck responses to its statistics.

"The results do not make for pretty reading," said Peter Roebuck, beneath the sober and restrained headline "The truest form of the game is on the brink of extinction". "Only 7% of Indians, 19% of Kiwis and 12% of South Africans put Test cricket above its peers. Most Indians favour Twenty20, while Kiwis like ODIs."

Well, yes, kind of: 58% of Indian respondents did indeed nominate Twenty20 internationals as their preferred form of the game. But this was downright weird: since the first in December 2006, India have played just 20 such games. Meanwhile, only 4% of Indians professed consuming adoration for the Indian Premier League, which we're constantly being told is all about the fans, has changed the game irrevocably, and is to Test cricket as Godzilla is to Tokyo. It would have been just as factually correct to present the headline "Test cricket still more popular than IPL".

In the case of India, furthermore, the poll was conducted in a year without a home Test until the end of November - a lack which invited the question: if Test cricket has become a minority interest in India, how much does that have to do with visibility and access? At a time in which so much cricket of such variety is being played, views are susceptible to all manner of short-term influences. How different would the results have been had the poll been held after: a) the 2007 World Twenty20; b) the first IPL; c) the India-Sri Lanka Tests after which India ranked No. 1 on the ICC World Test Championship table?

Let's be blunt: this survey was dodgier than a double-breasted suit from Arthur Daley's lock-up. The conclusion was based on the views of 500 fans in each country, which in India amounts to 0.000417% of the population. According to MCC's Tony Lewis, cricket "would be foolish if we didn't think it was universal", but really the opposite was true. Here was a classic case of evidence from which the preconceived was extracted (dwindling support for Test cricket), the unexpected ignored (the insignificant interest in IPL), and grounds for doubt overlooked (the statistical insignificance of the sample). Cricket is meant to be a game full of stattos, but where were they when we needed them?

Worse, the interpretation indulged a widening streak of masochism among cricket's elites, its top players, senior administrators and commentariat, about Test cricket. For after the West Indian capitulation at the Gabba, the Murdoch press took up the theme of the imminent death of the five-day format with necrophilial gusto, star columnist Shane Warne leading the way. Beneath another cool and dispassionate headline, "Don't let Test cricket die", Warne offered the helpful advice: "Test cricket needs an injection of something to capture the fans across the world." An "injection of something"? At least he's moved on from diuretics, you might say, but he hasn't become much more discriminating. And there was much more besides, with hectares of print devoted to tiered championships, night Tests, field-restriction circles and the like, accompanied by exhortations to "Have your say: Vote in our online poll on what can be done." Welcome to Cricket Idol.

Sure, this is a debate worth having, for it is true: five days to decide anything these days seems an extraordinary, maybe even anachronistic, luxury. But plus ça change. It was in a famous interview with the Murdoch press in January 1982 that Kerry Packer's factotum Lynton Taylor, then charged with promoting cricket in Australia, said he'd basically given up on the long-form game: "The game of Test cricket as it's presently constituted is archaic… I don't know that Test cricket can be saved". And truth be told, Test cricket is as prone to spasms of hand-wringing as the English public, in Macaulay's droll judgement, to periodic fits of morality. Ask any journalist, around for more than five minutes, how many times he has written the "death of Test cricket" piece. It's the modern equivalent of the Bradman obituary - something to keep at the ready, just in case.

Amazingly, too, the torrents of dross evaporated the moment West Indies fought back at Adelaide Oval, which shows how phoney was the concern for Test cricket, and how pants were most of the mooted innovations, in the first place. Or actually, not so amazingly, for herein may lie some of Test cricket's malaise, which has nothing to do with Twenty20, IPL, the global hegemony of the BCCI or the gradual marginalisation of the ICC, but rather the general insufficiency of "news".

 
 
Test cricket is as prone to spasms of hand-wringing as the English public, in Macaulay's droll judgement, to periodic fits of morality. Ask any journalist, around for more than five minutes, how many times he has written the "death of Test cricket" piece. It's the modern equivalent of the Bradman obituary - something to keep at the ready, just in case
 

Think about it. Ten years ago, to choose a season at random, the Australian summer was reverberating not just to the heroics of Adam Gilchrist and Justin Langer at Bellerive and Shane Warne's pursuit of Dennis Lillee's wicket-taking record but Shoaib Akhtar's sudden rehabilitation, Joe the Cameraman's abrupt unmasking, and Darrell Hair's latest showdown with recalcitrant touring teams. Hansie Cronje was about to be unmasked as a cheat, joining Mohammad Azharuddin and Saleem Malik in purdah. Perhaps it is age, perhaps it is a journalist's fondness for scandal-mongering, but a few such stories today would be a relief from the modern monotony of non-stop touring and context-less competition.

In a typically shrewd piece for the 1973 edition of Wisden, Richie Benaud summed up the Ashes series of 1970-71 and 1972, with their combination of skilful cricket and space-grabbing controversy, from England's walk-off in Sydney to Australia's piss-off at Headingley. At the time, Benaud had an unusual dual perspective, being both commentator for the matronly BBC and columnist for nubile News of the World; he wrote accordingly.

Everyone will have their own ideas on this question of whether or not controversy harms cricket, but over the past two series between Australia and England, I think the game has come out of it very well. The type of controversy which I believe harms the game is where the cricketers are providing poor fare for the spectators, whether that be at the ground or on the television screens…That sort of controversy I feel does harm in the game because it will be written up or talked about by the media and agreed with - as it should be by the cricket follower…

Personally I think the last two series between these two countries have provided the best cricket of any dual series since the war… I believe a great deal of this is due to the fact that in both series the cricket has been very good and the teams roughly equal in strength and intent on providing good entertainment. In addition they have provided their share of controversy - or had it provided for them - and I regard that as a contributing factor to the success of the last eleven Test match between England and Australia.

Gods or flannelled fools? Voiceless robots or men of character, willing and able to express their feelings? Well, you can take your pick, but I am inclined, having been both in the centre and in the press and television boxes, to prefer the latter any day.

Benaud was writing before cricket controversies involved revelations of corruption and became proxies for racial tensions and religious squabbles. But his argument is not redundant. Test cricket still commands phenomenal hours of airtime and hectarages of space; it is faltering not just because of exogenous factors like Twenty20, but because it is not providing the dramas, the dilemmas, the raw meat of scandal for a ravening media and a public craving thrills and spills, sin and redemption. Had the MCC held its precious survey two years ago in the wake of Bhajjigate, when Indians were incinerating Steve Bucknor in effigy and fuming about Harbhajan Singh's martyrdom, would only 7% of them have given a monkey's about Test cricket?

Is Test cricket, then, with its corset-tight Code of Conduct, its pre-modern puritanism about "the spirit of the game", its post-modern obsession with technology, its abiding ambivalence about aggression, its very contemporary paranoia about "damaging the brand", caught in a trap of its making, as well as a potential victim of market forces? Because for as long as it fails to provide grist for the media's mill, it will be at risk of becoming that grist itself.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer. This article was first published in Seriously Cricket Chronicles

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Posted by ArchieIndian on (March 18, 2010, 15:42 GMT)

I am not sure what to say here. See on the one hand T20, IPL will help bring new people to cricket but once a person understands cricket, Test cricket will be ultimate. So, for me both can be popular together. I would suggest ICC to be a little more careful in the way it handles all this. I would suggest ICC to give IPL its due by making it a part of the calendar and help cricket overall. In this way, There will never be a comparison between an on going test series between England and Bangladesh(or Australia vs New Zeland). Test cricket has its own place but T20 should used as the way to promote cricket overall. Once, people understand cricket, they will next understand the flavor(addiction) of test matches.

Posted by sidsway14 on (March 17, 2010, 9:52 GMT)

You are right Gideon. Even my views abt IPL is in the negative. lot of drama even before the tournament. Its ridiculous in a way. If its the new face of the game or its the way cricket is to be played right now. i dont kow. its not is my strong opinion. controversy runs the show. its more or less the bollywood way of pulling the crowd in. and count me out!!! I am a keen follower of test cricket and there has never been a series like the ashes 2005 in my opinon. the whole idea behind ipl or t20 in my opinion is killing the game. Test ranking no 1.. all that i have to ask is are we worth it. i doubt!!! i dont like australia much. but for a decade. even ppl who dont like them wont doubt their spot there on top. firebird.. NINE unfavourable decisions seems a bit of an exaggeration. 5 in my opinion. but i still believe tht sydney test was lost mainly due to our incompetence against the clarke spell. basically indians expected a draw but it dint work tht way and we got angry. i feel tht!

Posted by magic_torch_jamie on (March 17, 2010, 8:14 GMT)

I don't get it! The headline premise of Haigh's article is quite right: we have a Test country or three too many and the Future Tours programme has made the schedule too bitty. What India is doing for the world game is largely very exciting and it's terrific to have this very different voice change the direction of cricket. I have been surprised to find that the IPL is a good product as it offers such a distinctive flavour but I wonder about other Twenty20. People tend to argue exclusively for one thing but the short and the long game ought all to have their place. It is a shame with Bangladesh at the moment that they can't seem to build a team specifically for Tests - it's hard for the smaller ones to adapt to all forms - but cut the vitriol, it's wonderful that such a nation can have its sporting heroes. Cricket ebbs and flows and we're just waiting for the next great bowlers following so many retirements.

Posted by Firebird914 on (March 17, 2010, 5:05 GMT)

I can not get over the fact that you GIDEON, have such an issue with INDIA, forget the BCCI or IPL, you honestly have a problem with India. your articles are alwys why INDIA is not good @ test cricket (RANKING #1) and only make money Well sir Cricket is a Religion in India, people never get enough of it. 2nd before i continue let me say that I watch more Test cricket then T20. also the 2nd test in sydney you are referring to, we have had 9 let me spell it out NINE in a span of 1 innings each go aganist us. also you guys sledge a lot so when time came for us to say you couldnt take it. ego problem i understand. jealousy problem, that your cricketers are so in love with the IPL. What if Warney thought winning the IPL was his zenith, he lead a team that he barely new. IPL is not abt the money to me, its abt seeing the greatest players of all countries playing as teammates and thats whats brilliant about it. and in todays world SPONSERS run the show. Like 3 mobile does in AUS. enough said

Posted by _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on (March 17, 2010, 4:06 GMT)

@ Rezaul. What counting system are you using? Its human nature to pay closer attention to decisions that don't go our way. I assure you your count is way way off.

Posted by   on (March 17, 2010, 2:35 GMT)

nice article Mr. Gideon Haigh

Posted by 10dulkar100 on (March 16, 2010, 19:02 GMT)

These are the tours that should be scheduled

I would like test matches between these sides

NO INDIA VS SRI LANKA PLEASE!!!!

New Zealand Tour India Pak NZ Ind Tri Series India Tour South Africa India Tour England - 4 Tests West Indies Tour South Africa South Africa Tour West Indies Sri Lanka Tour England Australia Tour England Australia Tour Sri Lanka South Africa Tour Sri Lanka West Indies Tour India

Pakistan Tour India - 4 Tests India Tour West Indies New Zealand Tour West Indies New Zealand Tour South Africa South Africa Tour New Zealand

Posted by   on (March 16, 2010, 15:06 GMT)

Honestly Gideon...u need to get over it. I just happened to read your last 5 articles and I found a mention of either the IPL, BCCI, India in all of them. U are probably suffering from superiority complex like people of your country do (both UK and Aus in ur case). I would like to see you speak or write around 5 articles on "The Great Packer" in the same breath as u do of Modi. Today Modi is doing the same thing that the English started in 60s....MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY. You just cannot swallow the same thing, can u? Get a taste of ur own medicine my friend. I admit though, Modi tries to poke his nose in every little thing, too much to the chagrin of many Indians themselves. But after reading your continuous India-bashing articles, I seriously believe he shud continue to frustrate people like you even more. Get over it else ur articles will become too monotonous for people to be interested.

Posted by CricketMaan on (March 16, 2010, 10:42 GMT)

I'm for T20, IPL and TEST cricket, its time for ODIs to Rest in Peace. Its unthinkable to watch a 6 hours of boring cricket. Its fun watching T20 and exciting and 'keep you on edge' TEST cricket. Let us bid goodbye to ODI the boring of all 3 formats.

Posted by Orientalist on (March 16, 2010, 9:40 GMT)

A voice of reality and sanity admidst the callow hyperbolic reporting of the great virtues of 20/20 by mainly Indian journalists which really is nothing more than the sycophantic regurgitaion of recieved 'wisdom' from the likes of Modi. How often have we heard that venal phrase that (all previous forms of) cricket is dying since the advent of the Modi takeover of the game. Even Chapplei repeated that tripe and based an article on making test cricket a 3 or 4 day game, abbreviating it. it seems that abbreviation equals innovation. The response to any constituted or perceived crsis is make the game shorter. In reality the 'innovation' of Modi, its little more than the modern corporate model, hire a bunch of yes men to supply you with a bunch of so called innovative ideas which really tantamount to nothing more than controlling and bilking a well-established product that has taken centuries of public endeavour, society, to manufacture. He wll run the well dry.

Posted by redneck on (March 16, 2010, 5:10 GMT)

controversy? or anything else that makes people talk about test cricket i guess is good! but as someone else stated bellow prehaps not the kind that the nrl and afl seem to have to deal with, or the type that clarke and bingle have generated of late for that matter! i see that as having a bad effect and particularly in the nrl's case it may well have cost them fans! @ IPLFan what about the interest and tv ratings that the perth test along with the controversy in sydney created for the series later in the year? plenty of takers from what i gather! @CricFan78 disagree with the wi v eng mismatch call. both sides had wins at home against the other last year!

Posted by Chris_Howard on (March 16, 2010, 0:56 GMT)

Why is it so bad for a sports match to last five days? Golf games, like The Masters, go for four days yet there's no calls to enliven them. Tennis, the most boring of the popular sports, has tournaments that last a mind numbing two weeks! If any sport needs some excitement added, it's tennis. It was funny, I saw an add for the tennis this year that made it seem almost like as exciting as a rock concert, and switched over to the actual tennis - which sounded as exciting as an afternoon cuppa at the old folks home. Certainly some Test matches are more exciting than others, but so are some golf and tennis. Cricket is quite possibly, by population, the most popular sport on Earth. We don't have to mess with it to appease the non-followers.

Posted by Harry_ on (March 15, 2010, 20:09 GMT)

As a seventeen year old, I find the vast majority of my cricket-following friends appreciate and understand the longer forms of the game far more than T20. We mostly agree on the fact that T20 is already becoming a boring affair. How many Sixes and fifty ball hundreds can anyone take? It won't be long before the game can't really go any further, and no amount of 'Super overs' or other cheap gimmicks will eradicate that. The same could be said of Test Cricket that it has become just as tedious without controversy, but the game has survived for 140 years and T20 will never match that. T20 is limited. Test Cricket is limitless and when another series of the calibre of say India in Australia 2001, the 2005 ashes or the most recent South African tour to Australia, worries for the longer game will evaporate. Series' like England/Bangladesh do not help though it is interesting to see that the most gripping test matches tend to involve Australia...

Posted by knowledge_eater on (March 15, 2010, 19:23 GMT)

I am confused, Does Test cricket need controversy? Or Cricket writers, bloggers, generalist, reporters, or commentators need controversy to survive in this tough, pacy, and competitive world ? Well, i think that it has been the motto of most of the media. I mean i think its come with profession first lessen one learn, that if you want to survive you gotta attract readers right .. attract crowd !! Do something special right ? I don't blame it, blame it on cricket, and these crazy competitive world. Peace ... P.S. good write up, at least it wasn't long this time :P

Posted by Idli_Dosa on (March 15, 2010, 18:34 GMT)

Oh how do all of you care about test cricket anyway ? Most of us don't have the stamina to last a Twenty20. Only people who deserve to talk pro test-cricket should have at least played some format of it. Couch potatoes can watch Bollywood movies, they are almost as long as the test matches.

Posted by crikkfan on (March 15, 2010, 18:20 GMT)

nice article. not very obvious to the casual readers what mr. haigh is trying to say :) Test cricket is and will ever be the most respected form of cricket - but it pays to observe the astute observations of players like dravid - who said that the kids now may still think abt test cricket - but what about 10 years from now - is there a system in place to lure the kids to test cricket and not T20 bash?

Posted by Rezaul on (March 15, 2010, 17:26 GMT)

Before the starting of Bangladesh-England series everybody knew that it will be an easy one for the visitors. So far England won all the games comfortably except some tensed moments in 2nd ODI at Dhaka and drawn 3 day tour game. BD showed that their improving curve is getting sharper everyday. Some of the individuals' performances were eye catching at different periods. But they always got setback at some stage by the men in white coat. They are the ones always with consistency. So far 9 wrong decisions were given against BD and 1 against Eng in this series. So overall tally stands at 9-1. Interestingly, the best Bangladeshi player Shakib was the victim of two wrong decisions. Imagine what would happen if an English or Aussie captain were given two wrong decisions in a series they would have create a havoc in media, their board president would have talked to ICC. But alas its BD, a weak team, nobody listens to them. So no chaos at international media, they call it human error! Funny!!

Posted by mightyavanti on (March 15, 2010, 16:23 GMT)

I think this winter has shown that decent test cricket will still keep the public interested. I think India doesn't help itself by continuing to schedule tests in Nagpur, where stadiums continue to be empty and it seems they play at least one , perhaps even two tests there every year. It's just so painfully obvious politics is behind this! It was great to see South Africa playing at eden gardens this year, to a packed house. Perhaps this will be a wake up call to the Indian authorities, but I doubt it. As for 20 20, any form of the game where a batsman comes in and the statistics tell you how many 30's he has made, is a mickey mouse format. End of story.

Posted by sidpod on (March 15, 2010, 14:55 GMT)

what a brilliant piece...

Posted by jamrith on (March 15, 2010, 13:40 GMT)

It's the IPL, the quintessential T-20 tournament, that is playing host to has-beens of the game---- Gilchrist,Symonds,Ganguly,Kumble,Hodge,Bond etc. Flintoff is wallowing in Dubai as long as he has sponsors to fund his sybaritic excesses--any pedalos in the Burj ??---. But test cricket is not attracting crowds. Methinks the game itself will atrophy and disappear within the next decade.

Posted by bonner on (March 15, 2010, 12:50 GMT)

Can Test Cricket just remain as it is? I don't mind new innovations such as umpire reviews but leave the hysteria for those with short attention spans. The integrity and character of Test Cricket will survive the headline factory that is the print media and the knee-jerks that fill the columns. Test Cricket moves at it's own pace - whether that be a flashy surge or a steady grind of consolidation - this how living entities are when allowed room to breathe and time to fully express themselves.

Posted by SrinR on (March 15, 2010, 12:50 GMT)

OK, I will bite: First of all, let me register my umbrage, as an Indian, to the suggestion that Indians take up test cricket only in response to big ticket controversies. We inherited the baton from the previous generation, whose passionate following of the likes of Gavaskar and Viswanath, we witnessed as children. Secondly, probably as you have hinted, the media builds up these controversies for its own ends rather than as a genuine reaction to events on the field - that's only what "free enterprise" has begotten to us. Now, thirdly, in 10 years time, I believe test cricket will still be relevant, but your adolescent nihilistic "malice towards one and all" approach would have long lost its bite.

Posted by sray23 on (March 15, 2010, 11:31 GMT)

Quite frankly Test cricket will never be the true pinnacle of the sport unless it becomes the commercial pinnacle of the sport (ie it is the main interest of sponsors, TV companies, spectators and therefore players). It can throw up all the enthralling matches in the world but unless it has bums on seats, and is actively sought after by broadcasters it wont generate enough money to pay players handsomely and they will continue to go the Lee and Flintoff way and migrate to the shorter forms of the game. Tests need to go into night and a Test championship needs to be drawn up to give the game context and authorities have to be more strict on over rates and I guarantee the crowds, sponsors and broadcasters will flock back to Tests and it will regain its position as the pinnacle.

Posted by ww113 on (March 15, 2010, 11:18 GMT)

Test cricket is a product of a bygone age.Yes,for the players it is a great test of skill.But for the spectators,there are many so entertainment options.Test cricket is not merely competing with other cricketing formats,it has also has to compete with cable TV,DVDs,the internet etc.Five days just to watch a cricket match,well life is too short for that.

Posted by ram5160 on (March 15, 2010, 9:08 GMT)

Hmm, maybe if there were more controversies, people would have less time to write about the demise of Test Cricket, a topic which has been done to death.

Posted by chaithan on (March 15, 2010, 8:39 GMT)

the india part of the survey could have been influenced by many things. it was in the middle of a long drought of tests. another thing could be the place where it was carried out. indians in the big cities will be more supportive of tests. its surprising to see so many fans the world over do not like tests. i think that more knowledgeable cricket fans will like tests and others will like slam bang versions. or maybe just because their favourite format is odi or t20 doesnt mean that they will not watch or like tests.

Posted by chaithan on (March 15, 2010, 8:31 GMT)

nice article i dont think test cricket will ever die out. i think the most likely future scenario is this people will be saturated with so many T20 matches involving mindless slogging , flat pitches and probably terrible bowling that t20 will die out pretty quickly. people will long to see a good cricket match with a balance between the bat and ball. they will want to see great batting feats which do not involve endless sixes but instead involve a technically super batsman keeping out a formidable bowling attack on a sporting wicket

Posted by addiemanav on (March 15, 2010, 7:42 GMT)

i think to actually make the young audiences understand the importance of test cricket,tv shows should be organised describing some of the most memorable test matches in the history of the game,and personal interviews of former and current test cricketers.i always wake up at 2:00 in the morning to watch ind vs nz in a test.people in the 70s would wake up at 5 in the morning and listen to radio commentary whenever india travelled down under.but i m not sure many do that anymore.there have been many dedicated programs about the tied test matches.u get a tie every 5th game in 20-20,and every 20th game in odi,but we have only 2 ties in 140 year history of test ,isnt that special.SHOW IT ON TV ,SHOW IT ON HISTORY CHANNEL,IT WILL BE A HIT.atleast i will be watching it!!

Posted by Sehwagology on (March 15, 2010, 6:15 GMT)

Wonderful piece Gideon as always - intriguing, insightful, eloquent, provocative. To paraphrase Voltaire I may not always agree with you but I will defend to death your right to say it. And you're spot on about test cricket. Rather like Mark Twain the death of test cricket has been greatly exaggerated - largely by self serving mandarins promoting their own agenda. It was forever thus. 15 years ago it was one day cricket that was going to trigger the demise of test cricket and now it's Twenty20. Ironically it is one day cricket that is constantly redefining itself in a desperate attempt to survive. Let's wait another ten years to see which form of the game holds primacy. Of course many of my fellow Indians are unlikely to agree and will be launching ad hominem attacks on your integrity, your bias against India, hostility towards BBCI and other such claptrap whilst simultaneously defending the bland and humourless writing of Harsha Bhogle who ceased to be stimulating years ago.

Posted by CricFan78 on (March 15, 2010, 5:58 GMT)

A very obtuse article Gideon. While controversies do play a part , it is imperative that sport provides excellent viewership besides fitting immaculately into current lifestyles of people. India-Aus 2001 series was without much controversy but it brought Test cricket into force in India. The problem with Test cricket is that it goes on for 5 days and on top of that there are so many useless mismatch series such as Aus-Pak, Eng-BD, Eng-WI, India-BD etc. The series which are closely fought such as India-SA recently, SA-Eng, Ashes'09 will all have higher viewership but not many people are bothered following series which has little or no meaning.

Posted by Aubmic on (March 15, 2010, 4:21 GMT)

Nice article, I too am a strong believer that the right controversies are good for the game. While Sydneygate was fairly heated at the time, I believe it helped build a genuine rivalry between Australia & India that, while not quite matching the Ashes, is fairly close. It makes games between us have a bit more relevancy in the jam packed schedule of today.

I remember when Benn, Haddin & Johnson had a bit of argie bargie at Perth. One of the commentators said "nobody wants to see that on a cricket field" and I was thinking to myself well thats not true, because that is just the sort of thing I want to see on the field. Not the physical contact, but things like giving the just dismissed batsman a royal send off, or umpire dissent gets you a fine these days, when the reality is it makes it interesting.

The right type of controversy (i.e. not the stuff rugby league seems to go through every month) keeps people talking, and when they are talking, they are watching.

Posted by BillyCC on (March 15, 2010, 4:08 GMT)

Something else that can be considered is to align the interests of the T20 format with the Test cricket format. That is, use the money/profit generated by T20 to develop Test cricket. This might be tricky, but regulators may be able to think of something to allow this to happen. For example, if a private investor wants to invest in the T20 format, part of their dollars must go to the development of Test cricket as well.

Posted by BillyCC on (March 15, 2010, 4:03 GMT)

This is a very interesting article, because I don't want to believe it, but many of the points raised ring true... unfortunately. The next 10 years in cricket could be the most important for how the game develops; whether we continue to hold Test cricket as the pinnacle of the sport, or continue to glorify the shorter version of the game. The one issue in all of this is money. T20 pays the bills, especially those of past Test cricketers. It is not in their interests to demote the game. But how to drum up interest in Test cricket. Well the tongue-in-cheek controversy suggested by Gideon Haign will work. To develop such controversies, one solution is to play longer series. It is a pity to see so many short two-test and three-test series. Imagine if the recent India-South Africa series had gone to five tests. It was getting interesting at 1-all. Another solution is to play a true Test championship. That would generate interest.

Posted by IPLFan on (March 15, 2010, 3:50 GMT)

yet another flawed analysis by Gideon Haigh. Immediately after that Bhajjigate, India played a Test in Perth. Final day was a national holiday and India was on the verge of a famous win. Yet, there were no takers for the match on TV. Haigh can check out the ratings for that day's play.

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Gideon Haigh Born in London of a Yorkshire father, raised in Australia by a Tasmanian mother, Gideon Haigh lives in Melbourne with a cat, Trumper. He has written 19 books and edited a further seven. He is also a life member and perennial vice-president of the South Yarra CC.

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What Australia have not done since returning a fractured unit from India is head back to Asia to play an Asian team. Two of their major weaknesses - handling spin and reverse swing - will be tested in the UAE by Pakistan

Kohli back to old habits

Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala

WICB must tread on eggshells with care

The WICB statement should cool down emotions and allow all parties involved to take the next step forward

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