July 7, 2011

The importance of being entertaining

Test cricket must be played to thrill. The attritional variety on show in the West Indies-India series isn't quite the ticket
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The current India-West Indies Test series seems to have marked the return - not welcome to many - of cricket as an exercise in attrition. Run rates of about two and a half runs an over for long periods of time, batsmen's strike rates in the low 30s, half-sessions without a single boundary - all these and more, were on display in the first two Tests, in Kingston and Bridgetown.

To watch a batsman nicknamed "The Wall" obdurate in defence, and players of lesser talent barely pushing the ball off the square, has seemed to justify the largely empty stands in two famous cricket grounds that had previously been the sites of many a crowd-pleasing act of derring-do. With the throbbing, pulsating, time-bound and cheerleader-inflected joys of Twenty20 on offer around the world, Test cricket looks in danger of failing the viability test that any activity depending on public support must pass.

The case against Test cricket is easy enough to make. In his masterly defence of the art form, on ESPNcricinfo, Gideon Haigh summarised it well: "[...] we're too time poor, we're too attention-challenged, there aren't enough sixes, there isn't enough colour, you can't squeeze it into a tweet." But surely no one who truly claims to love cricket can reduce its joys to those elements? The people who say the kinds of things Haigh cites are not just critics of Test matches - they have failed to grasp the essence of cricket itself. The unfolding of a five-day match, like the narrative of an intricate novel; the tension of watching a master spinner tie a gifted batsman in knots, even if few runs are scored in the process; the sight of willow-wielding talent asserting its mastery over the fire and brimstone of an aggressive fast bowler, again whether or not a fusillade of runs results; even two tailenders holding out against the clock in the gathering gloom to snatch a brave draw from the snapping jaws of defeat - all these are unavailable in the shorter formats of the game, and they all offer pulsating tension and satisfaction unrelated to the hitting of sixes or the cavorting of cheerleaders.

To love cricket is to appreciate the sheer joy of the highest forms of sport - the elements that stretch human talent to the limit, that transform mechanical skill into beauty, that assert the pleasures of complexity over those of instant gratification. No form of the game showcases these qualities better than Test cricket.

But - and there is always a but - is this enough? Sport is, after all, a form of mass entertainment too. It is one thing to see a good batsman struggle to keep out a brilliant tweaker, another to watch players of less-than-incandescent talent pat ordinary bowling straight to a fielder. The one offers the spectacle of skill rising to a challenge; the other inflicts mediocrity on those who rightly feel they are entitled to watch something better and more enlivening. Players who in ODIs or T20s would thump short-pitched deliveries heading down leg or smash widish balls outside the off stump, leave them alone in Test matches. Worse, they are applauded by the discerning for this show of discretion and temperament.

The irony is that, in the old days, when Test matches were the only form of the game played at international level, the sport often offered plenty of entertainment, even when the matches involved were drawn (as was too often the case between the 60s and the 80s). I say this as one who was taken to his first-ever Test match, by an indulgent father, at age seven. This was in Bombay's lovely Brabourne Stadium in early 1964, when the English were touring (for a series in which, yes, all five Tests were drawn).

The Englishmen were so ravaged by an assortment of maladies that they played both tour wicketkeepers and enlisted the fielding of the Indian 12th man, Hanumant Singh, who was to go on to score a century on debut against them in the fourth Test. Whatever the strength of the visitors, though, the cricket on the third day of the Bombay Test was marvellous. I watched with enthralled eyes as Budhi Kunderan, India's opening batsman and wicketkeeper, who looked like a West Indian and played like one, pulled John Price, England's fastest bowler, for six over square leg, the ball landing practically at my feet. He almost instantly repeated the shot, this time failing to clear the rope. In less time than the difference between a four and a six could be explained to me, Kunderan was on 16; but he tried it too often, sending up a skier that swirled up in a gigantic loop over mid-on. As the ball spiralled upward, he began running; when it was caught by a relieved Fred Titmus in the deep, Kunderan continued running, hurled his bat up skywards with an exuberant war whoop, caught it as it came down and ran on into the pavilion. It was exhilarating stuff, and I was hooked for life.

Good Test cricket requires both approaches, just as a good concerto requires variations in the tempo of the music for the adagio to be appreciated as much as the crescendo. But cricket that features only defensive play soon loses all purpose, as did the India-Pakistan Tests of the 1950s

Who cared that the match petered out in a draw? Of course, even then there were commentators who tut-tutted about Kunderan's irresponsibility, just as they would do in later years about other colourful Indian geniuses - Abid Ali, who opened the batting in his third Test and promptly laid Australia's fearsome pacemen to the sword; Sandeep Patil and Kapil Dev, who were both unjustly dropped by the selectors for getting out caught on the boundary rather than from defensive prods to silly point; and Virender Sehwag, exiled for a year from the Test team despite being his team's second-most successful Test batsman since his debut (and only triple-centurion). But there was no question that even fans like me, who valued the attractions of Test cricket over those of the other forms of the game, still prized these players over those they were dropped for. The finest, most valued Test players have always been those who offered entertainment as well as ability. Glimpses of the Kingston Test have confirmed for me that I would always much rather see a day of Test cricket featuring players who know how to get on with the game, than endure ennui watching those for whom survival is the top-most priority.

Test cricket, in other words, does not have to be boring cricket. The Australians have proved this by pushing average run-rates over four an over and still playing to win. Other sides have followed suit, helping drive contemporary run-rates well above those of the past. Test cricket simply affords a larger and deeper stage for the talents that make cricket worth watching at any level. Sehwag, for instance, is unquestionably a master of Test cricket; he is also indisputably an entertainer, somebody people would go to a cricket ground (or turn on a TV) to watch. A Test series featuring players of both quality and entertainment value - not just the Sehwags, Gilchrists, Richards, Laras, Kapils, Warnes and Tendulkars, who of course are/were on a higher plane than most of their peers, but even lesser lights of dash and bravado - the Pietersens, Taylors, McCullums, Tamims, Bravos and Afridis - would give spectators the best of both worlds. I would rather watch Test matches featuring cricketers like them than any ODI or T20. But I would also rather spend three hours on some run-of-the-mill Big Bash than spend the same amount of time watching a dull session of indifferent cricket that seeks to justify itself through the label of a Test.

It is not my argument that defensive cricket is necessarily bad cricket. During a five-day Test match it is often necessary for a batsman to safeguard his wicket to secure his team's position, or for a bowler defending a meagre total to bowl to a defensive field. But if that is all that happens throughout a match, one cannot blame spectators for staying away. It is silly to suggest that the only yardstick for a good Test is that it feature attacking cricket all the time - that too would be depressingly one-dimensional. Good Test cricket requires both approaches, just as a good concerto requires variations in the tempo of the music for the adagio to be appreciated as much as the crescendo. But cricket that features only defensive play soon loses all purpose, as did the India-Pakistan Tests of the 1950s, where survival (and avoidance of defeat) was the only motivation for both sides. When the two sides stopped playing each other from 1960-61 onwards for nearly 18 years, so poor had the quality of the cricket between them been that it was difficult for the true fan to mourn.

Test cricket is the highest form of the greatest game, but it must be played to entertain, to delight, to win. That's what will redeem it, and make it worth following. And perhaps, once again, even fill the stands.

Shashi Tharoor is an Indian MP and a former United Nations Under-Secretary General

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on July 10, 2011, 16:43 GMT

    Agree when Shashi says "Test cricket must be thrilling & entertaining". But the disagreement starts with his limited & narrow definition or understanding of what should be called 'thrilling' or 'entertaining'.

  • AdityaMookerjee on July 8, 2011, 22:17 GMT

    I must point out, that many T-20 games are also boring for the spectator. If a Test team consisted of batsmen of the calibre of Kapil Dev, Vivian Richards, Krishnamachari Srikanth, Ian Botham, and Kevin Petersen, then the team would in all probability loose the Test match on a turning dust bowl in India, or on a green-top at Leeds, or at Perth. Just as one does not expect Jokers from a circus at an Opera, one does not expect a Test Match to end in three days. Take for instance, the current Test match proceeding in the West Indies. I expect India to win, so the happiness on the probability of India winning is prolonged for the next two days, if the match lasts that long. The viewer on television, or at the ground, during the test match, can enjoy five uninterrupted days of cricket. During a T-20 match, one does not usually appreciate the labour of cricket, but one appreciates the result, if the result is a four, a six or a wicket. During a Test Match, one enjoys the labour od cricket

  • adman63 on July 8, 2011, 21:10 GMT

    When the ball moving around, when there is real speed or real turn, when there are opportunities for three slips, a gully, silly point and a forward short leg to latch onto a "micro-second long" bad judgement on the part of the batsmen, when there is unpredictable bounce that keeps the batsmen guessing, when there is an anticipation or a real threat of a wicket falling every time a bowler is running in to bowl,when wickets are falling regularly and the team is in the verge of a collapse, the strength of mind and the control of the body that a fighting batsmen brings to bear to elegantly move to counter the swing (or turn), to drop his wrists, to meet the ball in the middle of the bat right below his still head, and thereby, to deny his wicket to the dominant bowler, is still the most entertaining part of cricket! I think we had an abundance of this during this series, and the fact that there was no crowd is not because cricket was boring. The reason lies elsewhere and off the field.

  • on July 8, 2011, 20:41 GMT

    I would disagree. Whilst I do agree with parts of the article, a genuine struggle between the bat and the ball is exciting. The problem with this series is not defensive cricket, defensive cricket can and is capable of being as exciting if not more exciting than attacking cricket but the lack of quality of the players. The bowling is only occasionally up to standard, mostly bordering on subpar with occasional flashes of excellence. The batting has only been great when the Laxmans and the Dravids are batting.

  • Wvish on July 8, 2011, 19:15 GMT

    I BEG TO DIFFER WITH A COUPLE OF NEGATIVE COMMENTS WRITTEN BELOW.LIKE MANY OF SASHI THAROOR'S ARTCILE,THIS ARTICLE TOO IS ERUDITE,RESEARCHED AND VERY INTERESTING. CRICKET IS CONSIDERED A CULTURED SPORT,UNDERSTANDABLY,MEANT FOR PEOPLE OF SAME STOCK. ERUDITION,STRUCTURE,INTELLIGENT AND LOGICAL THOUGHTS WELL PRESENTED GOES EFFORTLESSLY WITH SUCH A GAME. KUDOS TO CRICINFO FOR ENLISTING SASHI THAROOR AS A CONTRIBUTOR.KEENLY LOOK FORWARD TO READING MANY MORE OF HIS ARTICLES.

  • the_blue_android on July 8, 2011, 17:36 GMT

    I bet this guy has not seen a single test match in the last 10 years. Shashi should stop writing on cricket and work on his shady deals from the background. That suits him more.

  • VVHome on July 8, 2011, 16:55 GMT

    It is a pity Shashi Tharoor did not get to be the SG of UN. This meandering, boring, endless, grinding essay is the test match of sports writing. It belongs more in Grantland than Cricinfo. He is of course wrong in implying that low-scoring matches are boring. If he really thinks so, he belongs in the IPL crowd. But he makes an undeniable point: merely because it is a test match does not mean that it need not be entertaining. Empty stands when the No 1 test team in the world is playing do not look good at all. I suspect that because most of these players never get to play 3 or 4-day matches, they use tests as practice games or they just do not have the skill to score reasonably quickly over longer periods of time. Only the very seasoned players seem to have that skill (with the exception of Chanderpaul). It is sad.

  • the_blue_android on July 8, 2011, 16:23 GMT

    Why did Cricinfo allow someone who has no background in cricket to write an article? What are his credentials?

  • gracegift on July 8, 2011, 16:21 GMT

    @RaviDarira:The batsmen in question are the 20-20 heroes Kohli, Vijay and Dhoni. FYI, Harbhajan may play a few cameos, but i wouldn't still to call him a batsman. If he is, he should be playing in the top 6! Raina's weakness for short bowling has been well documented. Last i heard, Rahul Dravid's overseas batting average is better than Sehwag's overseas record. Please check your stats before you post...

  • pradeep_dealwis on July 8, 2011, 15:41 GMT

    "Test cricket, in other words, does not have to be boring cricket" says Tharoor. well, low scoring cricket does not mean boring cricket either. There were tough pitches and the batsman present, other than Dravid, VVS and maybe Bravo , were skilled enough to bat properly. Simple as that. it was boring because of the lack of talent. Bet you anything, it wouldn't been boring if Lara and Tendulkar was there.

  • on July 10, 2011, 16:43 GMT

    Agree when Shashi says "Test cricket must be thrilling & entertaining". But the disagreement starts with his limited & narrow definition or understanding of what should be called 'thrilling' or 'entertaining'.

  • AdityaMookerjee on July 8, 2011, 22:17 GMT

    I must point out, that many T-20 games are also boring for the spectator. If a Test team consisted of batsmen of the calibre of Kapil Dev, Vivian Richards, Krishnamachari Srikanth, Ian Botham, and Kevin Petersen, then the team would in all probability loose the Test match on a turning dust bowl in India, or on a green-top at Leeds, or at Perth. Just as one does not expect Jokers from a circus at an Opera, one does not expect a Test Match to end in three days. Take for instance, the current Test match proceeding in the West Indies. I expect India to win, so the happiness on the probability of India winning is prolonged for the next two days, if the match lasts that long. The viewer on television, or at the ground, during the test match, can enjoy five uninterrupted days of cricket. During a T-20 match, one does not usually appreciate the labour of cricket, but one appreciates the result, if the result is a four, a six or a wicket. During a Test Match, one enjoys the labour od cricket

  • adman63 on July 8, 2011, 21:10 GMT

    When the ball moving around, when there is real speed or real turn, when there are opportunities for three slips, a gully, silly point and a forward short leg to latch onto a "micro-second long" bad judgement on the part of the batsmen, when there is unpredictable bounce that keeps the batsmen guessing, when there is an anticipation or a real threat of a wicket falling every time a bowler is running in to bowl,when wickets are falling regularly and the team is in the verge of a collapse, the strength of mind and the control of the body that a fighting batsmen brings to bear to elegantly move to counter the swing (or turn), to drop his wrists, to meet the ball in the middle of the bat right below his still head, and thereby, to deny his wicket to the dominant bowler, is still the most entertaining part of cricket! I think we had an abundance of this during this series, and the fact that there was no crowd is not because cricket was boring. The reason lies elsewhere and off the field.

  • on July 8, 2011, 20:41 GMT

    I would disagree. Whilst I do agree with parts of the article, a genuine struggle between the bat and the ball is exciting. The problem with this series is not defensive cricket, defensive cricket can and is capable of being as exciting if not more exciting than attacking cricket but the lack of quality of the players. The bowling is only occasionally up to standard, mostly bordering on subpar with occasional flashes of excellence. The batting has only been great when the Laxmans and the Dravids are batting.

  • Wvish on July 8, 2011, 19:15 GMT

    I BEG TO DIFFER WITH A COUPLE OF NEGATIVE COMMENTS WRITTEN BELOW.LIKE MANY OF SASHI THAROOR'S ARTCILE,THIS ARTICLE TOO IS ERUDITE,RESEARCHED AND VERY INTERESTING. CRICKET IS CONSIDERED A CULTURED SPORT,UNDERSTANDABLY,MEANT FOR PEOPLE OF SAME STOCK. ERUDITION,STRUCTURE,INTELLIGENT AND LOGICAL THOUGHTS WELL PRESENTED GOES EFFORTLESSLY WITH SUCH A GAME. KUDOS TO CRICINFO FOR ENLISTING SASHI THAROOR AS A CONTRIBUTOR.KEENLY LOOK FORWARD TO READING MANY MORE OF HIS ARTICLES.

  • the_blue_android on July 8, 2011, 17:36 GMT

    I bet this guy has not seen a single test match in the last 10 years. Shashi should stop writing on cricket and work on his shady deals from the background. That suits him more.

  • VVHome on July 8, 2011, 16:55 GMT

    It is a pity Shashi Tharoor did not get to be the SG of UN. This meandering, boring, endless, grinding essay is the test match of sports writing. It belongs more in Grantland than Cricinfo. He is of course wrong in implying that low-scoring matches are boring. If he really thinks so, he belongs in the IPL crowd. But he makes an undeniable point: merely because it is a test match does not mean that it need not be entertaining. Empty stands when the No 1 test team in the world is playing do not look good at all. I suspect that because most of these players never get to play 3 or 4-day matches, they use tests as practice games or they just do not have the skill to score reasonably quickly over longer periods of time. Only the very seasoned players seem to have that skill (with the exception of Chanderpaul). It is sad.

  • the_blue_android on July 8, 2011, 16:23 GMT

    Why did Cricinfo allow someone who has no background in cricket to write an article? What are his credentials?

  • gracegift on July 8, 2011, 16:21 GMT

    @RaviDarira:The batsmen in question are the 20-20 heroes Kohli, Vijay and Dhoni. FYI, Harbhajan may play a few cameos, but i wouldn't still to call him a batsman. If he is, he should be playing in the top 6! Raina's weakness for short bowling has been well documented. Last i heard, Rahul Dravid's overseas batting average is better than Sehwag's overseas record. Please check your stats before you post...

  • pradeep_dealwis on July 8, 2011, 15:41 GMT

    "Test cricket, in other words, does not have to be boring cricket" says Tharoor. well, low scoring cricket does not mean boring cricket either. There were tough pitches and the batsman present, other than Dravid, VVS and maybe Bravo , were skilled enough to bat properly. Simple as that. it was boring because of the lack of talent. Bet you anything, it wouldn't been boring if Lara and Tendulkar was there.

  • Percy_Fender on July 8, 2011, 12:55 GMT

    ..Contd.The Tests at Sabina Park and Kensington Oval this time were played on absolutely shocking tracks as none other that Rahul Dravid who has played there on four different occasions mentioned he other day. You certainly cannot play an innings like Sir Gary Sobers played at Brisbane in 1961 in the tie drawn test or the one played by the boy on the burning deck of Perth in 1992. Yes I mean Sachin or the one played at the Eden by VVS Laxman in 2001. One has to concede that the sheer importance of winning nowadays differs from what it was in the 6os and 70s, when cricket meant only Australia, England and the Ashes.So, while we all love to see the kind of innings that Shashi is talking about, Test cricket today is more about attrition because there are other formats of the game to exhibit one's prowess at adventure and foolhardiness.

  • Percy_Fender on July 8, 2011, 12:55 GMT

    I think Shashi Tharoor is pretty much in the past even if I agree that one of the greatest innings that I did get to see was played by Farroukh Engineer, our fiesty wicket keeper opener,against the Gary Sobers led West Indians in 1967 at the Chepauk. On the first morning he had scored 96 before lunch, and there were about 15 minutes of play left. Now we all know how great a century in one session of play is. One hears only of the likes of Bradman and Hammond as having accomplished this feat.Farroukh did get his hundred after lunch but I will remember that he was denied the strike by Ajit Wadekar who was a fine player but on that occasion was pushing this "Khadoos" theory to the wall.That was the only century that Engineer scored in his career..Incidentally, the West Indies bowlers in that Test included among others Hall Griffith,Sobers and Lance Gibbs.I believe that the game itself has evolved since when all players are analysed like they do in the labs. ...Continued...

  • VENKATASAIPRAVEEN on July 8, 2011, 10:22 GMT

    Players like Dravid, chanderpaul, Trott are very boring to watch... Even today, there are such batsmen who play very slowly. Who would want to watch a match in which the batsman would not score many boundariesl..test cricket is a boring stuff. The success of T-20 has caused much damage to Test cricket.....

  • sweetspot on July 8, 2011, 6:28 GMT

    Moral of the story, and I agree - "Keep the story interesting". Test cricket is not about the outcome alone, of which only 3 are possible. It really is about the plot. High or low scores, the plot has to be kept interesting. Test cricket is the best canvas for any artist to paint a good story on.

  • on July 8, 2011, 5:53 GMT

    Wait for 2 weeks Mr Tharoor... all 4 tests in england are already house full... Low scoring matches are fun to watch.. I would rather prefer 230-8 in 90 overs than 390-1 in 90 overs.. At least we have chance of a result in the prior case..

  • on July 8, 2011, 3:42 GMT

    I think Shashi makes a good point about team selection. We shouldn't have to miss the best players from either side in the most competitive form of cricket.

  • rienzied on July 8, 2011, 2:00 GMT

    You scores 2000 runs , you dont win a match, BUT you take 20 wickets you win the test match. I was a batsman, and love watching lots of runs, but over the years, you realise, in TEST cricket, its all about if your team can take 20 wickets. If scoring is slow, so be it, survival and the strength to score on tough pitches as well as concentration is very underrated , whereas free scroing on benign pitches is vastly overraatted. Like baseball, where the eyes are pretty much on the pitcher, test cricket is weighted very much on the bowlers shoulders. the Windies series, deprived of top players, is playing out well, Windies could easily play a different batting lineup , and India are missing 3 key batsmen, but take nothing away from this series, it is a beauty!

  • on July 8, 2011, 1:22 GMT

    Totally disagree, while this series is lacking a bit of batting talent, the battle between bat and ball is much more interesting than the far too common run filled draws that are killing test cricket. It is a real problem that so many people don't appreciate good bowling and only want to watch batting.

  • Silloh on July 8, 2011, 0:12 GMT

    Yes , this maybe so but you must remember that this is India's second side against a WI team ranked about 7th in the World and there is no Gayle and Schewag . What I can't understand eg . when Chanderpaul is batting it's like a longggg struggle and then Baugh comes along and slams up an easy 65 today . I know that's Chanders style, but gosh man, the 3,000 fans will now reduce to 1500. Good that we have a choice now and that is, go to the 20 overs and see brighter cricket. But there are die hard test fans, so that 1500 to 2000 will always be guaranteed. But maybe, it's the preparation of the slow pitches and in addition weather, and WIBC challenges. However, all things being equal the tests to date in this series have not been thrilling and exciting but cannot be classified as boring. A pity though , the youths especially of today have started drifting away from test cricket in the West Indies and I can't blame them.

  • Baboolall on July 7, 2011, 23:33 GMT

    Mr Tahoor is spot on. I totally agree with him. And he is an excellent writer. The WI/ India contest used to be a joy to watch when Gavaskar, Richards, Sardesi, Kanhai, Haynes, Greenidge, Patel and others were in the Teams. Remember that Calypso " Just like a wall they couldn't out Gavaskar at all". Solkar and Sardesi would meet up in the middle of every Test with the score of 65 for 5 or 78 for five and Bat to bring India to 300+ or close to 300. It was awesome.

  • Alexk400 on July 7, 2011, 22:22 GMT

    I like first two test pitches. Because everything in cricket is batsman favored. Bowlers needs some support in form of good sportive pitches. People want even balance between bowling and batting. We alos do not want 80 all out. 200+ score is very good games. Not sure on 3rd test pitch as i see ball is not bouncing above knee already. All i want to see is more 150kmph bowlers and unleashes fury on batsman.

  • jackiethepen on July 7, 2011, 20:47 GMT

    I disagree. I am finding the Test matches West Indies v India fascinating. And I must say I am finding T20 cricket more and more tedious.

  • Flat_Track_bullies on July 7, 2011, 20:26 GMT

    Cant agree more with you Shashi. I think most people here who seem to disagree with you have been disillusioned by the british media..somehow made to believe that fighting to score runs is supposed to be great stuff! Simple fact is - if your scoring rate is less than 50, it gets boring.

    only if YUVI is listening - i think he just needs to go out and enjoy 'cricket' than believe it is something different and make himself subconscious. YOU ALWAYS MAKE MISTAKE TYPING PASSWORD WHEN SOMEONE'S STANDING RIGHT BEHIND YOU....I know its slightly off the topic..but i hope yuvi is at his best when in England..CANT WAIT TO WATCH INDIA DO WELL..WILL BE THERE AT LORDS AND TRENT BRIDGE...

  • on July 7, 2011, 20:13 GMT

    You know, people often compare Test cricket to a luxurious meal, or classic literature. It's a fair comparison, but how many of us want to exist on nothing but wine and caviar and "The Odyssey" every day for the rest of our lives? As Test cricket has its place, so do ODIs and Twenty20s. Twenty20s may be monotonous and one-sided, but at least they're over quickly. You want Test cricket, you've got it in this series.

  • rags1892 on July 7, 2011, 20:09 GMT

    @mets692006 ..You say- "India is not as good as the fanatics believe them to be. They are a team of old men (has beens) and they will ber both exposed and embarrassed when they go to england." Really..?? tell me one series in the recent past, or for that matter in the last 8-9 yrs home or away where the indian middle order has completely failed, thus leadin to india failing completely.. You will not find a single one trust me. Maybe a test or few here and there, but as a whole India has been an extremely competent side in the last decade, and over the last 2 yrs definitely the most consistent. and thats inspite having only one reliable fast-bowler. Its no mean fact that we've lost on 1 series at home in the last 10 years, and none at all whether home or away in the last 3. We beat Eng, WI, PAk, NZ and have draws against Aus,SA and SL. Give the team the due credit instead of tryin to pin the blame on them every now and then

  • on July 7, 2011, 19:31 GMT

    What we are missing is couple of aggressive batsmen like Sehwag/Gayle in each side. That would keep the possibility of a 50 ball 80 run innings that can turn the tides for a grinding test match othersie. It will keep crowd in stands in each session as well. Other than that I loved the fact that there is high chance of a result in WI wickets.

  • mets692006 on July 7, 2011, 18:54 GMT

    I like most indian fans believed that this B TEAM that was sent to the WI would destroy it's competition. However, quite the opposite has occured. If the west indies specialist batsmen (if you can call them that) were able to hit their weight, sachin and verinda and gambir etc would have been playing right now. However such is not the case because as usual the windies find new ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. India is not as good as the fanatics believe them to be. They are a team of old men (has beens) and they will ber both exposed and embarrassed when they go to england. this series in the windies is a very good one fro the west indian perspective. fielding has gotten better and the bowling getting there. need some confidence in the batting area and we can see significant change. The difference between mighty australia and this number one indian team is, australia played their full squad regardless of the competition. the squad sent to WI was a diss 2 D WI.

  • on July 7, 2011, 18:53 GMT

    Whatever ! Cricket is NOT about batting and scoring runs only. Bowling is also an important part. We need to have wickets where bowlers get some variable bounce,swing etc. WI wickets were helping bowlers and batsmen had to fight it out.

    Loved watching balls zipping past the bat,hitting helmet now and then.

    These matches were more enjoyable compared to matches played in placid wickets you get in Premadasa,SSC,Lahore,Bangalore etc.

  • on July 7, 2011, 17:54 GMT

    With due respect to Shashi Tharoor's skills as a writer and cricket enthusiast, I'd beg to differ on this. The slow run rates, water-tight defensive technique and asphyxiation by discipline might be a lost on audience brought up on diet of T20 or recent ODI era (or any cricket since the decade of Aussie domination). However, test cricket is as much about talent as it is about tenacity. For once the pitches on offer weren't the flat runways where batsmen can slog across the line; consequently the contests weren't lopsided. Patience was rewarded, the judgment of line and length which the likes of Dravid showed comes from experience accrued over the years, and youngsters can only learn. Each session promised something for skilled bowlers, and lesser skilled ones could hope to choke (lest we forget, one of the greatest Test bowlers simply rode on that discipline). End of the day, you win matches by playing for the country, not by thrilling the crowd.

  • on July 7, 2011, 17:08 GMT

    Dear Shashi Tharoor,I with thorough respect disagree with ur comments,the Ind-WI series has been awesome till now!

  • vatsap on July 7, 2011, 16:31 GMT

    Pls go watch your Kochy Tuskers or whatever they call themself. If Dravid hadn't scored a defensive century where the next high score was in the 40's. the barrel would have been on the other hand. For a change there has been a even battle, thanks to the pitches and lack of experience in Indian batting plus decent Windies bowling. Not the feather beds of the sub continent. Thankfully most of the folks commenting also seem to understand this.

    Geniuses like Cricfan108 should stick to the IPL tamashas.

  • on July 7, 2011, 16:30 GMT

    @gracegift - which 20-20 batsman are you talking about??..raina who scored 85 or harbhajan who score 70 in the first test???, if not for their contributions, india would have lost the 1st test...

    Sehwag has been found wanting on seaming tracks??? really?? have you checked his record in Australia, South Africa or England???? He averages more than the 'Wall'...without considering his strike rate which has played a major role in India's improved performance overseas.....please think before making ridiculous comments like these....

  • on July 7, 2011, 15:10 GMT

    THE ART OF THE GENTLEMEN'S GAME OF CRICKET IS THAT CRICKET LOVELY CRICKET IS SLOWLY DIMINISHING AFTER THE KARRY PACKER'S NEW THEORY ONE DAY GAMES.NOW THE INTRODUCTION OF 20/20 CRICKET MAKES PEOPLE LIKE SHSHI THAROOR CRICKET SHOULD BE PLAYED ON ENTERTAINER AND THRILLER WHICH WILL UTIMATELY KILL THE NOBLE GAME OF CRICKET.THOSE DAYS MANY PLAYERS CHARACTERS ARE DETERMINED BY THEIR APPROACH TO THE GAME. THE ART OF OPENING BATSMEN IS TO TAKE THE SHINE OF THE BALL AND PLAY THE STROKES AFTER SETTLING DOWN.THE FAST BOWLERS HAS TO SWING THE BALL IN BOTH WAYS,AND SPINNERS SHOULD USE THE BOWING CREASE WELL AND FLOAT THE BALLS TO DECEIVE THE BATSMEN.NOW ALL THESE TECHNICS GONE TO THE OLD BOOKS AND VERY RARELY WE CAN WITNESS GOOD AND TALENTED CRICKETERS WHICH I FEEL DETERIMENTAL TO THE GAME OF CRICKET LOVELY CRICKET

  • on July 7, 2011, 15:09 GMT

    You don't play for the crowd, you play for the country. This series, while may not have triple centuries and towering sixes pitted two less than full strength teams against each other with a little over 3 days of cricket lost through rain. In this time 1 test ended in a result and 1 was 3 wickets or 70 odd runs away from one. This is definitely characteristic of a new look Indian Team under a new and ambitious captain, a qualified coach, a supportive management staff and eager to please players. Two youthful teams with two very contrasting captains have fought it out amidst fast bowler paradises and thunder and lightning from the heavens. The cricket has definitely been hard fought and far from one sided. If this cannot be considered entertaining then Mr Shashi Tharoor should consider a real nail biting sport such as Golf or Billiards.

  • kasyapm on July 7, 2011, 15:00 GMT

    contd. Anyone watching tests on flat tracks (where the scoring rate may be 4 5 or even 6 who cares) would welcome the pitches currently in the carribean. In this context, I can't help the feeling that Mr.Tharoor, though an ardent cricket fan, has got it poorly wrong about test cricket when he rises the matter of 'entertaining'. Felt a void through out the article.

  • kasyapm on July 7, 2011, 14:55 GMT

    2 main points - 1) the current WI-India Test series isn't as boring as the author points out and the empty stands are mostly because of WI's poor showing over a period of time. If the author is hinting that the people involved did not play positive cricket (which he sees only in certain players like sehwag), I think he missed the aggression of the bowlers through out and the batsmen had to grind it out. There are so few pitches now-a-days that are more favoured to bowlers that occasional contests like the ones we are witnessing make cricket MORE interesting. 2) The argument that Sehwag was dropped because he was a slap-bang batsman is ignorant- to say the least. Sehwag was really struggling when he was dropped and after his return, he has been playing in his natural way. I would rather watch a Rahul Dravid or VVS or any other batsman grind it out against quality bowling rather than a session of T20 repeat (like it happened in the first test of India-SA last year). contd

  • on July 7, 2011, 14:51 GMT

    At the end of it all,its about the significance of the match,no matter what the format is.And that is why even those who have found this Test series boring will agree that the ODI series before this was even more boring.You know the best players in both sides are missing,which is why all attention from the very beginning is on England series.Now,that (IND V ENG) is a series that has significance & will have big names and ''some''thing at stake...This is why I want all matches to have some significance in the context of the Global Standings of the teams...The bilateral ODI series,hence,are under more threat than TEST MATCHES.ICC should step in and make sure Nations don't playmore than 3 matches in ODI series,unless they are Tri nation ones...

  • inswing on July 7, 2011, 14:50 GMT

    Cricket is exciting when wickets fall. "Defensive cricket" is a problem? One team's offense is another's defense. Tell me that three slips, gully, silly point, forward short leg is not offense. You only see this type of field in Tests. That is much more exciting than batsman hitting bowlers all around, with 2-3 wickets falling in the whole day. Someone can call run-fest draws with no fielder within a mile of the wicket as "offensive" or "exciting" cricket. I don't.

  • on July 7, 2011, 14:43 GMT

    I would take "attritional variety" of test cricket on any given day over T20.

  • rags1892 on July 7, 2011, 14:38 GMT

    Mr.Tharoor is clearly not a cricket connoisseur. Or he's just trying to get the limelight. When bowler's get clobbered mindlessly all over the park, we hear people saying that the game's a battle between bat and ball, and bith should have an equal chance.. Now that the first 2 tests have been bowler friendly, and aprt from Dravid and laxman (and raina to an extent), no batsman has had the skill and patience to battle it out. You call thi attrition, i think this is what cricket is all about.. Let the bowlers get a say for a change..!!

  • BellCurve on July 7, 2011, 14:24 GMT

    Like beauty, entertainment is in the eye of the beholder. Personally the most entertaining Test cricket I have watched in recent years was Kallis' 109* against India at Newlands earlier this year. From this you can deduce that I appreciate application, courage, consistency and legacy, and that I am a Capetownian. Mr Tharoor finds Sehwag entertaining. From this you can deduce he is a politician of Indian origin, and that he has never spent much time watching Sehwag bat in South Africa, New Zealand or England.

  • on July 7, 2011, 14:07 GMT

    Tharoor has it wrong. Test cricket is a battle of wit, concentration, strategy and individual genius, whether it be Sehwag thrilling or Dravid / Laxman saving the side after the "swashbucklers" are gone. I enjiyed Collie Smith "six or sticks" but also Sobers" fire and patience"( I saw him at Bourda trying to contain an exuberant Kanhai, because a match had to be won). Test cricket is attrition. It is a calculation of strokes, when to hit and when to defend. Look at a Dravid or a Chandrapaul or Laxman when a match is at stake and the bowler is spinnimg or biouncing or yorking. It craftsmanship at its best, it is guile and cunning versus patience and genius. 20 overs and ODIs are a goog respite, but Tests are to be savored.

  • on July 7, 2011, 13:56 GMT

    I don't understand why entertainment has to start and end with boundaries and sixes. Great spells of fast bowling, crafty spin bowling can be equally entertaining. Watching Dravid bat at Sabina Park was a lesson on batting on unfriendly pitches. It is always good to have pitches which slightly favor the bowlers more than the batsmen. This will ensure result oriented games. One must note that bowlers are not some villains to be thrashed around by one hero like in a bollywood movie. Its imperative that there be a contest between the bat and the ball. Those who think that entertainment is just boundaries and sixes, run rates reaching 4-5 an over in test cricket, do not exactly understand test cricket.

  • Singh_Saab on July 7, 2011, 13:38 GMT

    "Indian MP, former United Nations Under-Secretary General, and cricket fan" - "AND A CRICKET FAN" - I don't think so, he is just a 20-20 fan. I am a cricket fan and I have really enjoyed the two test matches thus far. Both teams are on the field trying thier hardest to win. This writer knows nothing about Cricket and has never had the chance to play the great sport. Please ignore him.

  • rajnish.sinha on July 7, 2011, 13:36 GMT

    personally i would like to see a contest between bat and ball rather than 6s and 4s. sachin facing dale steyn opening session of day 3 in the third test match of the last series and scoring only 6 or 8 runs in 36 balls was a far more entertaining sight than any 60 ball hundred i have seen in IPL. and then came tsotsobe and sachin brought out pull shot out of nowhere and struck him for 3 consecutive boundaries and put the pressure back on bowlers. this is the charm of test cricket. there was a time when 250 used to be entertaining in 50 overs, now even 300 is boring for most part of the innings. you can reduce the contest between bat and ball and nothing is going to come out of it. neways wrt current series a test match becomes entertaining by the number of wkts that fall and not the number of runs scored.

  • uglyhunK on July 7, 2011, 13:00 GMT

    People who do not agree with Shashi have to evolve with time. Change is the only constant, if u like 80s cricket don't watch 21st century cricket. Simple as that n don't expect others to go back in time.

  • ste13 on July 7, 2011, 12:49 GMT

    This series have not been bad at all. We've had some good knocks from Raina and Dravid, Dhoni's tactical superiority over Sammy and some good bowling - Sharma revival, etc. The only thing which is killing test cricket is the weather. Test no. 2 would have ended up in a result, if 130 overs had not been lost. Also, just remember Sri lanka WI series, which was completely washed out. Also, for me, test cricket should go day/night. It will let more people to follow.

  • CricketChat on July 7, 2011, 12:48 GMT

    I have a simple solution. If we can somehow come up with a method where a draw is taken out of equation, Tests will be entertaining for foreseen future. Tests are the only form that encapsulates skill, art, character and patience of a player for longer durations.

  • jinesshh on July 7, 2011, 12:42 GMT

    I second the thought of seeing bowler dominated match. More excitement and tests the batsmen and not anyone as test cricket is for elites. We just need to get rid of rains

  • on July 7, 2011, 12:30 GMT

    Yes! Please allow the bowlers to dictate terms... the Ind v WI series has actually been exciting apart from the rain... I don't want to see Sehwage score centuries in the opening session... Test Cricket should be a fair contest, attritional, hard-fought, back and forth... this has been a very interesting series despite the lack of class players...

  • dompocock on July 7, 2011, 12:08 GMT

    I agree with Sashi for the most part. This series has been better than the dreadful Eng v WI series several years ago in which three tests were consigned to excruciating draws on pitches that could have been used for twenty days and still have been perfectly flat placid batting paradises. Personally I think it is these types of pitches that are the greatest threat to test cricket and think that it is high time the pitches that are too flat are marked as poor and unfit and boards and grounds be punished accordingly.

    Fair enough if a pitch is flat for the first couple of days if it breaks up and turns on days four and five - like pitches in India tend to, they at least produce good cricket over the course of a match. I think the wicket at Lords is a perfect example of one that is too flat but of course nobody would ever dare criticise the MCC would they?

  • on July 7, 2011, 11:51 GMT

    Agree with several of the commentators that this has been a thoroughly engrossing series. There is no greater drama in cricket than hostile fast bowling versus quality batting. Both sides have given us that drama in this series (a little more quality batting from WI would be welcome though). Who needs fours and sixes when you can watch Ishant Sharma and Fidel Edwards make batsmen hop, skip and jump in the crease?

  • satyam.sharma on July 7, 2011, 11:50 GMT

    "Shashi Tharoor - Indian MP, former United Nations Under-Secretary General, and cricket fan" ... Now I personally know at least 43 people (including myself) who are bigger cricket fans than Tharoor. I wonder if the other two qualifications (apart from being shadow-owner of Kochi Tuskers Kerala) have anything to do with the fact that his boring, pointless, insightless articles get repeatedly published.

  • BeeArr on July 7, 2011, 11:41 GMT

    I do not know if Mr. Tharoor understands the game.Coz, as a relief came this series. After a long time, there is some life in caribbean tracks and half batsmen who do all bravado and circus in IPL and ODI cricket like Kohli, Simmons, Vijay and MSD and co are treated to good lively pitches. And there is something in it for the bowlers to run all day and bowl. And RD , VVS and DB have shown how to bat and Raina has also shown grit. And Kapil dev is one over-rated cricketer. Him in first list and KP in second list sounds silly and if Mr. Tharoor had an indirect influence in getting an IPL team, he better stop with that. We do not need him to comment on test cricket. You can't have a cake and eat it too..!!!! Between he's an MP. How about doing his job well for a change?

  • on July 7, 2011, 11:12 GMT

    Well Mr Tharoor, you should stick to politics ( no that you are good at it either!) Cricket journalism is not your cup of tea. I would rather watch Dravid and Laxman trying save/win a test match than a limited over contest. It has been such a good series so far even though it has been played by few inexperienced players. SO what! at the end of the day it is a contest..and is played for the pride of their respective countries.

  • on July 7, 2011, 10:49 GMT

    I personally have enjoyed the ongoing WI v India series. As Arvind Pai said in these comments, I'd far rather see a bowler dominated match than one on a placid pitch which draws to a close with 700 v 600 at the end of the 5th day. I think the current series has had its fair share of drama...if only we could get rid of the rain!

  • SKKNair on July 7, 2011, 10:24 GMT

    I think Shashi has got this wrong. No team goes to play a match just to entertain people, main priority is to winning or sometime not loose a match. It is up to the organisers to make a wicket/ground suitable to make the match entertaining and as a cricket lover I would love to see how teams work through different conditions. From that point of view I enjoyed watching current series with uneven bounce and turn. Without such conditions you wouldn't be able to see the abilities and value of Dravids and VVSs. Also don't forget Mr.Wall was always there when ever team needed a strong, disciplined batsman to work with youngsters.

  • atalapatra702 on July 7, 2011, 9:48 GMT

    I completely concur with the view of the author in that this particular series between India-West Indies has not thrown up any exitement or entertainment due to the lacklustre approach of both sides. Agreed the pitches were difficult to score off but there in comes the mettle and steel of tested players in demonstrating their abilities rather than merely struggle to keep afloat.No wonder there are no takers for this brand of cricket, missing the Carribean flamboyance and the natural skill of the Indians.Teams have playrd below par and none of the teams have so far scored in excess of 300 in almost eight innings.

  • sanjayas on July 7, 2011, 9:47 GMT

    Attacking test cricket is always exciting but Test Cricket over 5 days places an equal value on defensive play. The 2nd test in the current India-WI series saw an overall run ate of 2.74 and an aggressive declaration that could have won India th test. Morever, the defensive batting was quite exquisite...

  • Evilpengwinz on July 7, 2011, 9:06 GMT

    @RD270 - "The bigger concern for me is the apathy of the umpires and administrators not pushing the players to finish the quota of overs"

    I agree with this. The main reason I haven't been to a test match is because of the ticket prices, and because I know there's no chance I'll get to see 90 overs of cricket so I'm not getting value for money. I can't remember the last time I saw a captain bring the offspinner into the attack 3 minutes before lunch to try and get 2 overs at the batsman, which is a shame.

  • on July 7, 2011, 8:36 GMT

    Perhaps it would help if test matches in the West Indies actually went back to being played during the West Indies cricket season? In case anyone hasn't noticed, it finished about 3 months ago. This schedule has continued the trend of marginalising international cricket in the Caribbean. Further, several leading players are unavailable or have been left out of both sides for various reasons (eg Gayle, Gambhir, Sehwag, Tendulkar etc). It also happens to have rained quite a lot in this series - another consequence of scheduling matches outside the normal season.

  • on July 7, 2011, 8:20 GMT

    Apart from providing entertainment, Test Cricket also gives important lessons to succeed in life - as the English say, Test Cricket moulds character! Whilst growing up in the 80s, amongst others, I idolized Sunny Gavaskar. And by doing that, I learnt that in order to succeed you need to weather the storm when the going is rough (give the first hour to the fast bowlers), need to cash in when the form is rich (do not become complacent), but above all, Test Cricket teaches you the virtues of working hard and making the most of what God has given you. Like you, Mr. Tharoor, I would watch Test Cricket anyday, provided there is a balance between the bat and the ball.

  • Smithie on July 7, 2011, 8:04 GMT

    He should be prepared because India will attempt to hang on to its number one Test position by "not losing" overseas and then winning at home on flat bully boy tracks. Perfectly reasonable strategy with the talent available.

  • gracegift on July 7, 2011, 7:42 GMT

    I think Mr.Tharoor has got it wrong this time. The pitch was not conducive to stroke making as some of the 20-20 type batsmen found out. It was the efforts of "The Wall" that helped India win. The batting was more like an Umberto Eco book than a Dan Brown novel. Sehwag is a special talent, once in a lifetime batsman, but he has been found wanting on seaming tracks. If Test cricket is like a long novel then 20-20 is a glossy mag. Without being biased or comparing, let's enjoy both formats for the different skills they showcase.

  • Meety on July 7, 2011, 7:34 GMT

    I think I know what Tharoor is trying to say - but I think he is missing a bit of what makes cricket special. IMO - I wouldn't want to see run rates drop back to 2rpo, but its nice to see some tests fought out the old fashioned way. This is because the pitches have been sporting this series & requires great skill to perform - so the innings that Dravid, Laxman, Chanderpaul & Bravo have played have been every bit as good as a flashy Sehwag innings. So good job done by the curators so far in the carribbean!!!!

  • vigneshenoy on July 7, 2011, 7:32 GMT

    Nice article by Mr.Tharoor,but i would like to say that Test Cricket also belongs to the likes of Marshalls,McGraths,Donalds,Akrams,Waqars,Muralis,Kumbles,Lees,Zaheers,Pollocks as much as it belongs to Richards,Laras,Sehwags,Tendulkars...so it need not necessarily mean that entertainment quotient is the key for test cricket's survival,but what test cricket really requires is quality cricket,a batsman like dravid,strauss,sangakkara who can weather the storm of opposition pace bowlers,a bowler who can break through the defence or the onslaught of the batsman at the wicket....its all about the attitude to win by offering quality to the lovers of the game...may it be purists

  • Haleos on July 7, 2011, 7:29 GMT

    Wonderfully written article. I feel Dravid is too defensive. Its one thing to play defensive to save a match and another to play defensive all the time. He is one of the most boring cricketers ever. Australia when ranked no. 1 and even now would have defeated west indies in the second match with their positive play. When you are ranked no. 1 you dont need 5 days to defeat a team who is at the bottom. On top of that Dravid argues that those are the most difficult pitches he has played on. What rubbish. He always plays the same irrespective of the pitches. You put him on a featherbed and still his strike rate would cry if it goes above 40. He does not even have the grace to retire and let youngsters play. Agreed they will fail in the shorter run but dravid can not keep playing for ever so that fear will alwyas remain. He should retire now when Sachin and Laxman are still playing and performing. Indian classical batsman should learn from Mahela and Sangakara. They have adopted so well. It

  • RD270 on July 7, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    A really shallow article. Is the IPL more entertaining than the recently concluded India vs WI drawn test match? Different perspectives.

    No captain or coach goes out with the intention of playing "entertaining cricket", the good ones go out with intention of playing attacking cricket and sometimes this may mean knuckling down and playing out a tough session without throwing your wicket away or not letting the batsmen get away.

    The bigger concern for me is the apathy of the umpires and administrators not pushing the players to finish the quota of overs. It is blatantly obvious that most batsmen waste time before lunch/tea to not get another over in. It is time the umpires showed their authority and the ICC backed them!

  • on July 7, 2011, 6:22 GMT

    Let's not condemn Test cricket based on this series which is definitely atypical. with both teams fielding inexperienced players. I am sure the India-England series will be entertaining and draw sizable crowds.

  • shishirp on July 7, 2011, 6:07 GMT

    An article by a cricket fan who probably has never played cricket! Only if he could understand the tenacity of a Dravid or Chanderpaul...or if he could understand the challenge & thrill of pure survival when the bowlers are on top. The test cricket today is way different from the 80s. Any chance of getting a stat on the recent results in test cricket? i am sure draws are less than 20%. BTW, India - WI test series is boring because of the quality of cricket (2nd string Indian "young" side & WI's current team) and not because of the low run rates!! Guess is we pay by Shashi's methods, the match will anyways be over in 2-3 days...

  • on July 7, 2011, 6:06 GMT

    gud one ..test cricket is always entertaining..so many dramas unfolds in five days....

  • Quazar on July 7, 2011, 5:53 GMT

    Tharoor is eloquent, but betrays a lack of understanding of context. When you have 2 teams with largely young batsmen who are trying to establish themselves as Test cricketers, and 2 challenging (admirably so!) pitches, how can you possibly expect run-rates of 4 an over? Further, he is clearly no admirer of good seam and swing bowling, which has been a feature of this series through Edwards, Ishant, Rampaul and Praveen. Not to mention positive leg-spin bowling from Bishoo. All in all, the 2 Tests have been fascinating, and delivered above expectation (given the absence of many big names).

  • Geeva on July 7, 2011, 5:53 GMT

    Actually the Test Series has been quiet good.The bowling on both sides has been good if ur a world class batsmen u could get runs like Dravid and Laxman.Samuels showed patience.Lets not forget the matches in Jamaica and Barbados was played during working days(not lot people were gna be at the match MR MP!!!).Test cricket is definte not bout high scores and results were produced in jamaica!!!

  • Sunil.T.N on July 7, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    Mr. Tharoor knows nothing about test cricket. He is 20/20 stuff. His writings can be simply ignored. Cricket has always been more than just entertainment.

  • on July 7, 2011, 5:36 GMT

    I'd much rather have a game where the run rate is 2.5 per over yet the game ends in four and a half days with a result where 300 is the highest score. What we don't need are games where the run rate is 4+ and where 500 is a par score, but the end result is a draw after 5 days of a torture session for bowlers.

    This means, in most of the world we need fast and bouncy pitches that make batsmen hop and in the subcontinent, we need rank turners that make visiting batsmen question the very laws of physics. No more flat belters in Test cricket!

  • mogan707 on July 7, 2011, 5:28 GMT

    The teams playing cricket must play for their teams rather than for the supporters.It gives more satisfaction for a player to contribute in his own natural style to his team's needs than playing for the crowd or supporters.If the player(s) tends to play for the crowd then he may lose focus of what his team needs and soon the team may not be winning the game.Perfect example is during the World Cup group match between India and South Africa where India lost 9 wickets for 29 in the last 12 overs in pursuit of pleasing the crowd.In T20 the team plays according to the time allotted to each player in the middle of the innings.In comparison with Tests ,T20 is very short span either for a bowler or for a batsman,the team which executes its plans perfectly wins.

  • MSDonLSD on July 7, 2011, 5:20 GMT

    An excellent article suggesting a fresh yet often ignored pespective of the 5 day game. Test cricket has always been in a different league to most other sports however that is not the case with the shorter formats and therefore any apparent comparisons are unjustified! I really hope that young and flourishing cricketers of today read this article and adjust their approach in the longer format by playing fearlessly.

  • abeer on July 7, 2011, 4:36 GMT

    I beg to differ: I enjoyed watching these Tests immensely. The matches actually moved at quite a furious pace, considering we got a result in the first match, and came to close to one in the second, in ~3 days each. There was a lot of aggression on display in the matches, albeit from the bowlers. Fidel Edwards working over Virat Kohli, and Kohli trying to counter him in the second innings made for riveting viewing, as did Ishant's bowling in the second Test, and PK's in the first. Raina and Harbhajan's fightback in the first Test was all the better to watch considering the Raina backstory and the situation in which it came.

  • Kailash_Amruthur on July 7, 2011, 4:29 GMT

    Mr. Tharoor,

    I agree with your comments to a certain extent- but when other batsmen are dropping like flies around you and the result of the test match is still in balance, how can you find fault in the obdurate batsman known as "The Wall" in having a strike rate of only 30- which maybe slow- but sticking around, thus guaranteeing a result. People may remember the slow innings- but they will remember the result for much longer. Ideally- I would love to see a match decided on a last ball six, or a gut-wrenching, nail-biting tie, as has happened in the past- but- most of all- I would rather see the Indians win- albeit in a boring, slow and painfully methodical manner.

  • on July 7, 2011, 4:18 GMT

    I don't think Tharoor has had a chance to read what Dravid had to say: http://es.pn/iDXCfb [quote]"It's been tough for the batsmen," Dravid said. "It's not been easy for young batsmen to come in and face the new ball on these tracks. I have played four tours here and this has been some of the toughest tracks I have faced. Guys will learn a lot from this experience. It will hold them in good stead. As I was telling some of them they probably might not play on these kinds of tracks." [/quote]

    Tharoor has taken a couple of shots at Dravid in this article. I'm certain he would get away with it in this forum - because he didn't say that about SRT. He'd rather watch Afridi in a Test match than Dravid -- what a joke! Dravid has won more Test matches for India than Afridi or Taylor or the likes mentioned have won for their countries -- put together. If not for Dravid's and Laxman's batting, India would have lost the current Test series by now.

  • on July 7, 2011, 4:07 GMT

    I love Test Cricket, it's the purest form of the game. I also loved the way my country, Australia, played cricket in the 90's and early 2000's, positively and to win. It gave the biggest thrill to be prepared to go to a Test match over five days knowing that apart from the weather we had a team that would probably win in three days. The other international teams should have learnt from this and always play positive cricket. A draw should only be played for when it's the only option, like when there is no time left to win, as a result of the weather or if on the last day you are in difficult spot. It is a shame that the current Australian team quite as good as they were but they will be back and a lot of the other teams will still be playing for draws.

  • gottalovetheraindance on July 7, 2011, 4:05 GMT

    any person with good sense would have seen this coming. when both boards refuse to put their best 11 on the park it is quite likely that the quality of the cricket will not be mind blowing. It's like lighting firecrackers & expecting an explosion with the impact of dynamite. when quality cricketers are replaced with inexperienced players/ pretenders this is the result. It also does not help that Dhoni Harbajhan Sarwan, Chanderpaul etc arnt in form. Playing tests in the rainy season especially in Dominica which does not have a dry season is also not a recipe for great entertainment @ least that's from what i can see. maybe BCCI & WICB think otherwise? Crowd support also helps to make cricket entertaining! Did Wicb think that droves of fans would turn up @ Sabina on a Wednesday with no Roach, Gayle or Taylor only to watch Sammy try to merit a place in the team while throwing his wicket & dropping catches? we r not that in need of entertainment even if we dont work

  • shrikanthk on July 7, 2011, 3:53 GMT

    You gotta have a proper benchmark for comparison. You can't compare a Test match between WI and Zim on a dodgy wicket with a T20 between two excellent sides like CSK and MI. Obviously, the latter will seem better. The proper benchmark is to compare a limited overs game between Team X and Team Y with a Test match between two sides just as formidable. If one does that, there is little down that Test cricket offers a far greater spectacle.

    It lasts longer, offers more thrills, exhibits a wider variety of skills, tests temperament and character, and most importantly gives the fullest scope for cricketers to express their individual genius without constraining them with limits to anything.

    Test cricket is the only sport in the world where one gets to know the people who play it. It reveals character like no other sport. That's because the format lets players make their own choices. Unlike the ODIs/T20s where the format makes the choices for the players.

  • Balldinho on July 7, 2011, 3:42 GMT

    If only all the Commentators would realize this when they bash players for attempting to play positive cricket in the longer format!

  • on July 7, 2011, 3:26 GMT

    Test cricket must be played to win, but the attritional variety is also entertaining at times. Who wants to watch bowlers getting clobbered for 5 days, and getting wickets only when batsmen get too tired or lose concentration?

  • on July 7, 2011, 3:15 GMT

    Dear Sashi,

    Is a result oriented pitch that actually tests the batsmen really that much more boring than the mindless run fests we are usually dished up?

    While I quite agree that the series is missing the swashbucklers like Sehwag and Gayle who, almost certainly, would have lit up a session or two; I feel that the major cause of attritional tests is actually the featherbeds the batsmen have grown upon. The moment the pitch is doing a little bit, they no longer know quite how to bat. A few more pitches like this, and batsmen might start to learn the art of batting on such pitches once more; and heck, even hit a few boundaries that are not served on a platter!

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  • on July 7, 2011, 3:15 GMT

    Dear Sashi,

    Is a result oriented pitch that actually tests the batsmen really that much more boring than the mindless run fests we are usually dished up?

    While I quite agree that the series is missing the swashbucklers like Sehwag and Gayle who, almost certainly, would have lit up a session or two; I feel that the major cause of attritional tests is actually the featherbeds the batsmen have grown upon. The moment the pitch is doing a little bit, they no longer know quite how to bat. A few more pitches like this, and batsmen might start to learn the art of batting on such pitches once more; and heck, even hit a few boundaries that are not served on a platter!

  • on July 7, 2011, 3:26 GMT

    Test cricket must be played to win, but the attritional variety is also entertaining at times. Who wants to watch bowlers getting clobbered for 5 days, and getting wickets only when batsmen get too tired or lose concentration?

  • Balldinho on July 7, 2011, 3:42 GMT

    If only all the Commentators would realize this when they bash players for attempting to play positive cricket in the longer format!

  • shrikanthk on July 7, 2011, 3:53 GMT

    You gotta have a proper benchmark for comparison. You can't compare a Test match between WI and Zim on a dodgy wicket with a T20 between two excellent sides like CSK and MI. Obviously, the latter will seem better. The proper benchmark is to compare a limited overs game between Team X and Team Y with a Test match between two sides just as formidable. If one does that, there is little down that Test cricket offers a far greater spectacle.

    It lasts longer, offers more thrills, exhibits a wider variety of skills, tests temperament and character, and most importantly gives the fullest scope for cricketers to express their individual genius without constraining them with limits to anything.

    Test cricket is the only sport in the world where one gets to know the people who play it. It reveals character like no other sport. That's because the format lets players make their own choices. Unlike the ODIs/T20s where the format makes the choices for the players.

  • gottalovetheraindance on July 7, 2011, 4:05 GMT

    any person with good sense would have seen this coming. when both boards refuse to put their best 11 on the park it is quite likely that the quality of the cricket will not be mind blowing. It's like lighting firecrackers & expecting an explosion with the impact of dynamite. when quality cricketers are replaced with inexperienced players/ pretenders this is the result. It also does not help that Dhoni Harbajhan Sarwan, Chanderpaul etc arnt in form. Playing tests in the rainy season especially in Dominica which does not have a dry season is also not a recipe for great entertainment @ least that's from what i can see. maybe BCCI & WICB think otherwise? Crowd support also helps to make cricket entertaining! Did Wicb think that droves of fans would turn up @ Sabina on a Wednesday with no Roach, Gayle or Taylor only to watch Sammy try to merit a place in the team while throwing his wicket & dropping catches? we r not that in need of entertainment even if we dont work

  • on July 7, 2011, 4:07 GMT

    I love Test Cricket, it's the purest form of the game. I also loved the way my country, Australia, played cricket in the 90's and early 2000's, positively and to win. It gave the biggest thrill to be prepared to go to a Test match over five days knowing that apart from the weather we had a team that would probably win in three days. The other international teams should have learnt from this and always play positive cricket. A draw should only be played for when it's the only option, like when there is no time left to win, as a result of the weather or if on the last day you are in difficult spot. It is a shame that the current Australian team quite as good as they were but they will be back and a lot of the other teams will still be playing for draws.

  • on July 7, 2011, 4:18 GMT

    I don't think Tharoor has had a chance to read what Dravid had to say: http://es.pn/iDXCfb [quote]"It's been tough for the batsmen," Dravid said. "It's not been easy for young batsmen to come in and face the new ball on these tracks. I have played four tours here and this has been some of the toughest tracks I have faced. Guys will learn a lot from this experience. It will hold them in good stead. As I was telling some of them they probably might not play on these kinds of tracks." [/quote]

    Tharoor has taken a couple of shots at Dravid in this article. I'm certain he would get away with it in this forum - because he didn't say that about SRT. He'd rather watch Afridi in a Test match than Dravid -- what a joke! Dravid has won more Test matches for India than Afridi or Taylor or the likes mentioned have won for their countries -- put together. If not for Dravid's and Laxman's batting, India would have lost the current Test series by now.

  • Kailash_Amruthur on July 7, 2011, 4:29 GMT

    Mr. Tharoor,

    I agree with your comments to a certain extent- but when other batsmen are dropping like flies around you and the result of the test match is still in balance, how can you find fault in the obdurate batsman known as "The Wall" in having a strike rate of only 30- which maybe slow- but sticking around, thus guaranteeing a result. People may remember the slow innings- but they will remember the result for much longer. Ideally- I would love to see a match decided on a last ball six, or a gut-wrenching, nail-biting tie, as has happened in the past- but- most of all- I would rather see the Indians win- albeit in a boring, slow and painfully methodical manner.

  • abeer on July 7, 2011, 4:36 GMT

    I beg to differ: I enjoyed watching these Tests immensely. The matches actually moved at quite a furious pace, considering we got a result in the first match, and came to close to one in the second, in ~3 days each. There was a lot of aggression on display in the matches, albeit from the bowlers. Fidel Edwards working over Virat Kohli, and Kohli trying to counter him in the second innings made for riveting viewing, as did Ishant's bowling in the second Test, and PK's in the first. Raina and Harbhajan's fightback in the first Test was all the better to watch considering the Raina backstory and the situation in which it came.

  • MSDonLSD on July 7, 2011, 5:20 GMT

    An excellent article suggesting a fresh yet often ignored pespective of the 5 day game. Test cricket has always been in a different league to most other sports however that is not the case with the shorter formats and therefore any apparent comparisons are unjustified! I really hope that young and flourishing cricketers of today read this article and adjust their approach in the longer format by playing fearlessly.