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Commentator, television presenter and writer

Oh no, not at Eden

The empty stands at the Kolkata Test have confirmed Test cricket has serious problems on its hands

Harsha Bhogle

November 18, 2011

Comments: 134 | Text size: A | A

Rahul Dravid celebrates his century with VVS Laxman for company, India v West Indies, 2nd Test, Kolkata, 1st day, November 14, 2011
If Dravid and Laxman make hundreds in Kolkata and no one turns up to watch, did it really happen? © AFP

A friend of mine, now about 40, wistfully remembers the time when he was much younger and was taken to watch a Test match at the Eden Gardens ("Obviously all five days!"). It was quite an event for him, as indeed it was to all of us when our turns came. You waited for it, you analysed the opposition, you picked the players you wanted to follow, got excited if one of them fielded at the boundary in front of you, and over dinner that night told your dad what you had liked and what you hadn't.

Another friend recalls the time his father told his teacher that it was more important that his son went to Chepauk to watch S Venkataraghavan bowl than to attend just another day at school. He didn't tell me what the teacher's reaction was. Presumably his father hadn't bothered with it (anyone who objected to a young boy watching cricket couldn't be right anyway).

Just to put the era into perspective: my older brother used to study in Kolkata. It took a couple of days, sometimes more, to get there from Hyderabad, and we didn't know he had reached safely until an inland letter arrived.

As you can imagine, much has changed since. And yet, when the Eden Gardens had just a few spectators dotting its vast stands this week, there was widespread despair. "Not in Kolkata," they spluttered into their Darjeeling tea, but I'm afraid it was. An occasion that has been a rite of passage, an initiation into the endless world of sport and joy for a young man, has been largely ignored. Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, on whom ballads might be composed in Kolkata, hit centuries, and must have looked for fans to raise their bats to. This wasn't Kanpur or Mohali; this, sadly, was the Eden Gardens.

Yes, you could say the Test match started on a Monday (is any further proof needed that cricket is now largely a television sport?), that there had been holidays earlier, that there has been far too much cricket to follow, that the Kolkatan too needed to go to work. You could say all that and more. But the Eden Gardens is one of the homes of cricket and it was at home that Test cricket had been spurned.

It was also a week in which Haroon Lorgat formally announced that the World Test Championship had been put back to 2017. Poor Peter Roebuck said a lot could change in a week, and this is five years away. The ICC is disappointed, many players are disappointed, the romantics are disappointed, and yet, as the Eden Gardens showed, they don't count. Outside of certain pockets, people don't want to watch Test cricket. They know the scores, they follow the game on the internet, look at the television from time to time, but that's it. I am increasingly fearful that people talk about the glory of Test cricket like they do about world peace and Mother Teresa: because it is a nice thing to be heard saying.

There are still a few marquee series left but those are too few. If half the Test-playing world doesn't interest audiences, there is a problem and it has to be addressed by looking it in the eye rather than through the romantic, wistful writing that all of us have indulged in at one time or another. Maybe Test cricket ought to be played by fewer teams; maybe, as has been suggested by some former Australian cricketers, you play less, but better, Test cricket; or maybe you seek to market it more humbly.

In India, maybe we could start by making the act of going to a cricket ground pleasant. Security is something we cannot wish away. It is a grim fact of life in our part of the world, where distributing hatred doesn't seem too difficult, but maybe we can make everything else easier. Like buying tickets, getting parking, organising public transport, providing decently priced food, and the most difficult, providing clean seats to sit on. Test cricket is in a buyer's market and the sellers are struggling to come to terms with that.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

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Posted by inefekt on (November 21, 2011, 0:32 GMT)

I agree with MrPud, attendances in Australia, England and most of the other test playing nations are still as strong as ever. Yesterday's attendance at the Wanderer's in the test between Aust and SAF was quite good (contrary to what jonesy2 said below). Tests in England regularly draw full houses while in Aust you see the full house sign up quite often, especially when the better teams tour. You will see day 1 crowds at grounds like Sydney and Melbourne (with its traditional Boxing Day start) around 40k and 70k respectively. It's just India, whose administration is almost deliberately trying to kill off the format in favour of the money making T20 format. It's a crime which India should be ashamed of.

Posted by   on (November 20, 2011, 16:01 GMT)

Test cricket is always riveting to watch...be it Aus-Ind in 2001 or 2005 ashes or the aus-sa tour...however the good or great are too few in numbers and in the meantime the quality is not half as good...which paves way for T20 leagues like IPL,Big Bash and all others... It should be of made mandatory that the top teams like australia,india,South africa and Sri lanka should play each other one a year and the boards should go all out to make it a success.If they can spend so much money on IPL,create a hoopla for all that,whats the harm in doing the same for tests...Plus with the 5 days you could try a different thing each day....

Posted by jay57870 on (November 20, 2011, 15:32 GMT)

(Cont) This evolution is spurred by forces of innovation (limited overs) & entrepreneurship (IPL). Economists call it "creative destruction." We've seen it happen in the music industry: from the phonograph to 8-track tapes to cassettes to CDs to MP3 & iTunes & so on. We've seen similar upheavals in the auto & computer/IT industries. Changes can benefit both innovators & consumers. The Indian consumer has evolved too: more discerning about choices, more demanding & less patient (no more 7-year waits for the Ambassador). Supply now exceeds demand, which calls for optimal scheduling: Less is More! Tests are no longer the only game in town. It's not just about "pleasant" cricket-ground acts (don't forget clean toilets!), but also serving & engaging the community at large! It's not just about sales promotion or marketing of a brand, but also nurturing & sustaining a national pastime & sport! If BCCI is truly "non-profit," it has a social responsibility to better serve its many stakeholders.

Posted by UNIVERSAL_CRICKETER on (November 20, 2011, 15:32 GMT)


Posted by jay57870 on (November 20, 2011, 15:18 GMT)

Harsha - I remember the Garden that was Eden vividly, having watched many Test matches there to packed stands, many moons ago. Even if India lost badly to the WI powerhouses, I was there all 5 days. Back then, Test cricket was the "only game in town" (vs local club football & hockey). India was a protected economy; foreign goods & services were a rarity. No matter how shabby the conditions inside, a Test match ticket was worth the price & wait. Demand exceeded supply. Fast forward to the present: Yes, things have changed, mostly for the better. Indian cricket has reached great heights. The tables are reversed: India is dominating WI, but the stands are empty. Why? There's been a seismic shift in fortunes since the early 90s. Alongside India's economic reforms & globalization, cricket too has evolved with the power-centre shifting to India. Cricket is big business & BCCI controls the purse strings. What's more, Tests have now to compete with ODIs & T20 for time, space & resources. (TBC)

Posted by   on (November 20, 2011, 14:34 GMT)

I am a big fan of Test cricket and I love to watch test cricket in stadium, and even I have traveled from Pune to Bangalore just to see India vs Australia test match last year, but this was all because opponent was Australia. So,point here is that people don't turn up at stadiums is that they know its going to be one-sided affair which should not happen in test cricket. I am sure, if England, South Africa or Australia would have traveled to India, then you might not have seen empty stands at Eden Gardens !!!

Posted by   on (November 20, 2011, 0:55 GMT)

Ipl has changed world cricket, thus test cricket has lost its sheen and respect... If gayle or pollard would have been in the test series the crowd amount would have differ... Our top 5 batsmen are crowd pullers, and people are saying that bring the youngsters for 3rd test, although it make sense, but do u think that the attendance wud be same if either sehwag, dhoni, sachin, dravid or laxman are rested... And a point i can think also because of the inflation and rising prices, many people have stop bothering going to stadiums and spending on it coz now they enjoy the same thing in HD...

Posted by blackjesuz on (November 19, 2011, 21:03 GMT)

the fact is Harsha, with horribly flat pitches and mediocre opponents you are not going to entice fans to come and watch. Look at the SA pitches for inspiration, watch the cricket get more interesting, and watch the masses flood in

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 20:56 GMT)

1. My view is that the Glamour, Money and short duration of the IPL has taken away the crowd from ODIs and Tests in India. Its an overdose of cricket that has killed the excitement. IPL should be shortened in terms of no. of matches played.

2. The tickets are over priced at most venues. These should be reduced.

3. Another important factor is the poor scheduling of test matches. If you see the 2nd test at Eden, it started on a Monday and ended on a Thursday. No how does BCCI expects crowd to turn out on weekdays. If the matches start on Thu or Friday, rest assured there would be good crowd to watch India bat on the 2nd and 3rd days which are the most exciting ones. Saturday and Sunday is off for Schools, Colleges, Corporates and even some public sector firms which would attract good crowd.

Posted by Tendya_fan on (November 19, 2011, 19:26 GMT)

Harsha, Please do a segment on Tendulakar V/s Ponting After a long time you have a current great bowler outside of Australia. Steyn from South Africa. The way Tendulkar mitigated him in last series and the was Ponting is struggling in this tour. He has troubled all the batsman in current era including Tendulkar. But the was Ponting is struggling ( not only with runs - i understand he is in a bad patch of his ending career) with his technique. This just shows why Tendulkar is above the rest of the batsmen after bradman. He has long been shining against the best attacks with a very weak time. I hope dhoni was there when we gave Tendulkar the captaincy when he was 23 yrs old. With Dhoni's leadership and a team like today I can't even imagine how many bowlers would have Tendya nightmares in the late 1990's. Tendulkar I think is still among the top but I wish he would have got the team when he was young and aggressive. To be continued

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 19:17 GMT)

its not test cricket its a weak opponent.

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 19:14 GMT)

frankly speaking, many would not be interested in a one sided affair b/w India n WI. This and too much of cricket are the reasons of empty stands, NOT test match itself, infact tests have become quite interesting recently, if you watch Eng vs Ind earlier, on going Pak vs SL n Aus vs SA have been quite a treat to watch

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 17:14 GMT)

So long as a series involves a nth rate West Indies side and is being played on insipid pitches and where excitement has to be manufactured then we do have a problem on hands in terms of attracting paying public.

More importantly in the fight between BCCI and CAB the Kolkatta public has been subject to a lot of unwanted humiliation therefore is it any wonder that they have decided to not show up for these consolation matches?

Another vital aspect is also the fact that even though this is not a top drawer series the prices of tickets are still well out of reach for most of the paying public (in terms of it being either a family outing and/or providing the same value/entertainment as say watching a movie with ones family).

Unless all these aspects are addressed we can continue lamenting about lack of spectators. By the way the ongoing series between SAF and Aus is also not exactly packed to the rafters that should say something.....

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 16:01 GMT)

I think some of the on-going Ranji matches have been more competitive than this series...that probably explains ! Add to it, the week-day schedule for a Test Match...Can't comprehend how they could think of such schedules :(

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 11:57 GMT)

Harsha, I'm a big fan of your commentary and articles but I have to disagree with you slightly. It is a sham that only BCCI organises test matches which start on Monday (2nd Test) and Tuesday (3rd Test). All other boards make sure that the weekend is part of test match scheduling. Indians from 10 years ago are different to Indians now - people are more professional and there is a lot going on from a work perspective in people's lives what with all the competition for getting ahead - u can't expect the working lot to take a day off/two days off every time that there is a test match in the city. People now have a lot more sense of responsibility to their work and they stick to it. Having said that, I agree with you about providing the test match viewing public with an experience to remember - appreciate your point about security and in my view its very necessary but the seats, traffic organisation to reach the ground, park and ride services are an important part of cricket organisation

Posted by mitgop11 on (November 19, 2011, 10:49 GMT)

Wait for Mumbai test to begin Harsha. Let us see whether a 50 rupee ticket attracts more crowd there.

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 9:22 GMT)

Harsha, all these talks about stadium facilities and comforts have no any importance this happened totally due to the quality of opposition. specially at this time INDIA needs to have a bilateral series with pakistan( now at its superb form) the biggest contest of ASHES quality and also will be cause to bring people fill out many stadiums like eden gardens.200% agreed with "(RohanMarkJay_TestCricketRules)".

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 8:32 GMT)

Test cricket should always be there,no matter if ODI cricket and T20 formats are banned or not...

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 8:02 GMT)

well mr. harsha in the case of eden gardens the empty seats is not because of too much cricket played nor because test cricket is fading. it;s bcoz nowdays kolkata ppl dont give a 2 pence importance abt cricket anymore. they are being treated as underpriviledged cricketing state. how many bengal players got chance to succeed in the international stage apart from dada. a big stadium like edens cudn't even hosted a marquee WC match. its an epic sad and DISGRACEFUL. and besides kolkata is one of the very few indian cities where the passion for football is very much higher than that of cricket. and with i-league starting to get exposures why would kolkata ppl even bother to watch india play? i hope cricinfo publishes my comments coz it's logical

Posted by krickrazy on (November 19, 2011, 8:02 GMT)

Nono.Nothing has changed.Just bring the competitiveness back into the game.Thats not possible if all of you, and yes you included, in your frenzy to earn throughout the year, kill the golden goose, which is players who make up a team.Today you are not sure whether the team that played yesterday will play tomorrow as well.I give it to you in writing that the world cup winning India 11 will never play again together.Australia are today playing Siddle,Watson n Johnson as their pace trio, tomm it will be Bollinger,Tait n Cummins against us or maybe Lee, Copeland n Hilfenhs.Vijay n Mukund will suddenly start opening instead of Sehwag n Gambhir.I dont have one solid team to back against a similarly solid opposition.Its not as if I know its the fab four versus mcgrath,gillespie n warne or hoggard,jones,harmison n flintoff or even gvskar,vengsrkr,amrnth agnst marshal,roberts,holding n daniel. You guys hve compromised on quality ovr quantity.you think we are stupid to go see this rubbish.

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 6:03 GMT)

As a 40 year old my memories of international cricket are almost exclusively Test cricket related. Watching South Africa's return to Test cricket at the Wanderers in the Friendship series. Jimmy Cook going for a royal duck against Kapil Dev. Watching Dale Steyn making his debut in Port Elizabeth. Paul Adams' test debut. Martin Crowe going out for 86 at the Wanderers aiming to be the first man ever to get test centuries against 8 countries. Donald and Pollock having England 4/4 in the first 12 minutes in a series. The crowd hitting the billboards in a raucous excitement. And listening. Donald taking Inzamam in Pakistan. JOY!!!! And I am guilty. I know the score of every test around the world, but I don't visit the matches as much as I used to. We watch 40 or 50 overs per day on a side-screen on the PC. It makes us fanatics, but it does not help the game. Test cricket is like the pump that delivers water to our houses. We don't visit it every day but we need it. It is in us, like blood.

Posted by Ramesh_Joseph on (November 19, 2011, 5:36 GMT)

One has to move with the times. How many people have the time and patience to sit thru 5 working days to watch a match even if it is interesting and gripping (most matches are not). For that matter how many people watch Test Cricket on TV..most follow it thru internet. Even including matches on weekends may not be a solution as there are much more interesting and entertaining things to do with one's families on weekends. There is also too much international cricket being played. I can still remember the details of many of the matches played in the 70s and 80s...but last 5 years hardly much. The boards have to also remember that unlike 20 years back, today all sports are competing with a variety of sources of entertainments. Whatever one may say about test cricket, no sport can survive without enough public support. Maybe they can reduce the number of international cricket matches (all formats) and try to introduce night test cricket.

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 5:06 GMT)

Well said Harsha. Providing a much better viewing experience would certainly add to the intrest. Like you said, better seating, better food at better price and the fan to be treated as a customer rather than an unwanted element. See how the cinemas have changed, there is something in that that cricket can also see.

Posted by   on (November 19, 2011, 2:31 GMT)

I can see tendulkar cover drive, a sehwag swat, a laxman flick or a dravid cut a million times without getting bored.. but dont expect me to hear the same commentators say the same words every time.. I'd rather watch the highlights on mute than watch a test match.. The day cricket on tv improves, the spectators will fill the stands automatically to get the experience first hand.. But if the televised version is unbearable, dont expect me to pay for my tickets or my channel subscriptions..

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (November 19, 2011, 1:53 GMT)


Posted by ManzurManutd on (November 19, 2011, 1:44 GMT)

Test cricket isn't dull.It is dull in subcontinent pitches where pitches are doctored favoring the home team.Where pitches crack even on the first day and cricket is played where balls don't bounce.I find it utterly farcical why India plays opponents far below their ranks and make tracks suited to their spinners deliberately.

Calcutta crowed is no fool.If you know your opposition's stature,and can guess the result even before the toss,why would you watch a match wasting your valuable time.

Look at the match is now being played at Johannesburg,keenly contested and evenly poised.There is no shortage of spectators.People love to see everything in cricket,good quality seam and swing bowling with fiery bouncers and turns.

I justly disagree with HARSHA--"cricket(test) is a TV sports".I would request BCCI to put those ingredients of good cricket and save the test.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (November 18, 2011, 21:38 GMT)

All over the world, test cricket is at a cross-roads. It is perceived as the least marketable format of the game, except perhaps in England where no stadium holds as many as 30,000. That attendances remain high (by which I mean 80%+ full) in England amazes me considering the cost of the tickets, but even in England attendances for ODIs and T20 matches are greater than those for the majority of test match days. Elsewhere, the spectacle of row upon row of empty seats tells its own sombre story. There has to be a rethink of test cricket itrself to make it more marketable and I offer these suggestions: (1) there needs to be set number of overs per session. 35 x 3, giving 105 overs per day, over FOUR days; (2) the price of tickets needs to be calculated by considering the av. income of the nation concerned; (3) Gnd facilities need to be high quality (4) wickets need to be prepared to ensure a proper balance between bat and ball, unlike the maj. of Indian wkts. Where there's a will.. eh?

Posted by TarunGoyal on (November 18, 2011, 20:57 GMT)

Actually the last para sums up my reasons for not going and watching any matches in the ground. I am a person of the consumerism era and if I am paying money then I expect good service. And I am really sorry to say but that includes more than seeing my favorite player score a century. As far as following test cricket is concerned I still try to watch all the matches on television whether it involves India or not. But seriously BCCI and the others involved need to take into account the comforts of people who are paying money to come and watch the game. They cannot continue to take them for granted and then rue afterwards that no one comes to watch the matches. Please Mr. Bhogle your words mean a lot to the cricketing fraternity, so let the right people hear this. Give some thought for the actual cricket lovers and then see if the stands in Kolkata are still empty.

Posted by BirjuD on (November 18, 2011, 20:25 GMT)

Hi Harsha, To make Test matches interesting, to my point like other games, there should be an introduction to the substitution system, whereby a all other players sitting outside also gets a chance to play. I remember Ravi Shahstri in his commentary at Kolkota said that players Like Virat Kohli and Rahul Sharma should be playing Ranji Trpohy instead of sitting as 13 and 14 men. If young players get a chance through substitutions than they get an experience of the Test Cricket a well along with One day cricket and 20 - 20. This can be helpful to players who just sits outside throughout the series and is being replaced by another one in the next series. Also the wickets in India needs to be changed, Its been ages every cricketer as well as commentators has mentioned about it. After all these years they have been concentrating on expansion of Stadiums and thanks to IPL at least the outfields have improved. Worth giving a try a domestic level and than introduce at international level.

Posted by InnocentGuy on (November 18, 2011, 20:21 GMT)

The culture plays a part. In Aus/SA people relax with beer in hand and watch matches. In India the crowds are already unruly and if you allow them to bring in beer, good luck with crowd control. That said there's got to be some incentive for the spectator in India to come watch a Test match. When food is sold at the stands, people don't care whether they spill or throw waste around. Because of that, plastic/wooden seats are the best because they are easier to clean. But the cleaning still needs to be done. Peanut cores are the biggest rubbish strewn around in all places in India. There's got to be more people who constantly clean the place and more people to take care of rest rooms. That alone is bound to increase the number of spectators - clean seats, clean restrooms, clean lobbies. Also, stadiums can have lockers for people to put things in before going inside. That way belongings are safe, security guards are happy, and you get addnl revenue from charging for locker usage.

Posted by spence1324 on (November 18, 2011, 19:50 GMT)

Simple if certain countries are fed up with 'boring test cricket' swap with countries that do what to play test cricket like Ireland etc, my point is never forget your roots.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 19:36 GMT)

It did not happen overnight:

- Match Fixing row (right from Azhar, Jadeja and major blow by Conje) - Issues with CAB and Jagmohan Dalmiya - High happiness once you criticise BCCI (not that they dont deserve any, but not its overly done) - Poor performance of India in England - Not a strong team thats playing India currently. It will be interesting to see what happens when India plays against Aussies and Pakistan (and yes these 2) - Excessive cricket (may not be actually as I know people miss the evening matches when CLT20 or IPL isnt there) - Over pricing of tickets - Mindset needs some refreshing that cricket is not the only sports that interest Indians anymore

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 19:34 GMT)

A serious thought should be given to build new stadiums in smaller cities with less capacity and see the difference. A 20K full house is far better then an empty Eaden Gardens or Kotala... anyone take it?

Posted by hhillbumper on (November 18, 2011, 19:02 GMT)

too much IPL,too much one day cricket and not enough understanding that test cricket is the peak of the game.It does kind of make the myth that the greatest fans in the world are Indian.If you like your team so much then go and support them

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 18:36 GMT)

BCCI needs to think of the pricing strategy. The prices for the tickets is charged exorbitantly high. If its thought about surely we will see some good numbers for the Mumbai test match.

Posted by rushab19 on (November 18, 2011, 18:19 GMT)

YES!! Too much cricket is definitely the reason for the low turnouts and it looks like this isn't going to change anytime soon. But, there is still something that can be done to bring in more crowds to test cricket. The greatest assets are the cricketers, of course. Sure, many of us have gone to the stadium and watched our cricketers play sometime or the other. But, how many have actually got to MEET our heroes? How about this: The BCCI comes up with a promotional tactic that anyone who goes to watch a test match gets the chance to have a 10-minute tete a tete with his idol. All those who come get to write in a chit who they'd like to meet and then, at the end of each day, 1 lucky person gets to meet his idol!! This may create a slight hindrance,esp. if the match is in the balance, but, 10 mins. is all I'm asking for. Sure, the chance for 1 particular fan is about .01 ,but then, YOU GET TO MEET SACHIN TENDULKAR if you're lucky. The girls, esp., will flock after guys like Yuvraj.

Posted by Rahulbose on (November 18, 2011, 17:58 GMT)

Yes, this was the most surprising think about the 2nd test. Cricinfo report on the test mentions more people turned up to watch Ganguly play a Ranji match. I say the big center crowds are a spoiled bunch, play tests in other locations and you will see full stadiums atleast in India.

Posted by InnocentGuy on (November 18, 2011, 17:04 GMT)

At least there are people who can make a difference left to worry about Cricket. How many people worry about lack of support/fans/funding for other sports like Hockey or Soccer in India? Or even track events? The only time India recognizes other sports is when a sportsperson from any of these sports achieves something tremendous, DESPITE the non-existent infrastructure or funding. E.g, no one even knew India had a shooting team until Rathore/Abhinav won Olympic medals. People don't care about Hockey. Baichung Bhutia is probably the only Indian soccer player anyone can think of. The last known track athletes in people's minds are Milka Singh and PT Usha. If Cricket and BCCI really care, it's their responsibility to not only make cricket better in and for India, but also do their bit to raise the popularity of other sports in India.

Posted by PratUSA on (November 18, 2011, 16:59 GMT)

It's funny to read the phrase 'and the most difficult, providing clean seats to sit on'. I was shocked to find bird droppings on all the seats in two front rows in my stand (which was second most expansive at the ground) at Ahmadabad during world cup quarterfinal, yes a world cup quarterfinal featuring India and Australia. But it was a sold out match so finally people placed their signs of 6s and 4s on the seat before sitting over them. I was lucky to get just in time to avoid having to sit there, and may be also lucky that seats were not reserved. If this was the scene in a world cup match I wonder what goes on at other times.

Posted by maddy20 on (November 18, 2011, 16:57 GMT)

Kolkota, Delhi and Mohali are the worst places to play test cricket. The stadia will be empty. If you did not expect this then it is astonishing to say the least. Give matches to cities where people care about them. Bangalore, Chennai are the best examples. Even Dhoni made a similar statement when India defeated Aus 2-0 last year, the match has been played in Bangalore and the stadium was which prompted MS to say so.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 16:47 GMT)

i think harsha , its not Test cricket which is in danger, but cricket in general. TOO MUCH CRICKET IS BEING PLAYED THESE DAYS.... Havent Bothered to follow Indian Team after the 2011 WC WIN. Neither Test , Nor ODIS, NOR T20 , NOR IPL, NOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE, NOTHING excites me these days.....

Posted by muski on (November 18, 2011, 16:41 GMT)

Harsha- I have been watching test cricket for 30 years now. Test Cricket, except for a brief period, has never ever attracted large crowds in India. The answers are non-cricketing to most extent. Most of the unemployed cricket lovers can hardly afford the tickets. The ones who can afford have their livelihood to attend to and cannot spend 5 days watching a match. The boom of television has given birth to what is called " selective viewing". I for instance dont miss a ball when the Indian openers are batting. Once they are gone, I would like to See the God's and Wall's statistics on the screen and switch it off. By the way, why would ICC or BCCI want the crowds in for the tests. They still make the money from Television rights. In fact, for most of the this bunch of Windies players, they must thank their stars that they were not playing in front of a crowd of 100 thousand at the Eden. The sheer pressure of the crowd would have put them off and would have resulted in a larger defeat.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 16:35 GMT)

Rest Dravid, Ishant and Laxman. Play Sehwag/Gambhir/Rahane/Tendulkar/Kolhli/Rohit/Dhoni/Ashwin/Ojha/Yadav/Aaron.

3 Mumbai boys will do a lot to bring crowds at Wankhede!

Posted by motiur_rahman on (November 18, 2011, 15:32 GMT)

How about giving less priority to IPL and Champions League . All the commentators and ICC official act as if these two tournaments does not have any negative impact on cricket . Cricket is gradually losing its gentleman nature .

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (November 18, 2011, 15:16 GMT)

Harsha, IF conditions at the Stadia are of acceptable standards, I assure you that the next time I'm in India, I will go with my whole family to watch, even if India plays minnows. Until that time, I couldn't care any less even if it is Dravid or Lachanna I could watch in flesh. Yes, I love them very much and will probably stop watching cricket once they retire. BUT, can you tell me with some certainity that there are proper, hygienic designated areas to even change diapers for little kids, whom we have to put on their backs while changing diapers? Aweful and inhuman is the only phrase that comes to my mind when I think of those Stadia. Yes, it is buyers market, as it should be. Beggars belief that anybody could take my money and treat me and my family like as though we were a family of house-flies. I would urge all the Indians to stay away from our Stadia but make sure that you put some placards at the stadium entrance reading "It's easy to get money from me. Simple. Earn it from me".

Posted by A.Ak on (November 18, 2011, 15:10 GMT)

Learn now, powerful board only can get the match and cannot bring the people. Give matches to south like Chennai and Bengaloru. I bet people are much more sporty and will turn up and watch a test.

Posted by Behind_the_bowlers_arm on (November 18, 2011, 14:55 GMT)

The solution is to tell Sachin that he has to play for another 5 years and on no account get century number 100. Knock your stumps over on 99 if you have to. Being able to say 'i was there' when Tendulkar made his 100th 100 seems to be the only thing that swells the Indian Test crowds.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 14:54 GMT)


Posted by sussexmartlet on (November 18, 2011, 14:53 GMT)

I share your concerns, although I'm not too disturbed at the postponement of the Test Championship, which hasn't been thought through. I endorse some of the comments made by others, particularly baskar-n and Madhup Gunjan, although don't use FIFA as a model for heaven's sake. I would like to see fewer tests and with them taking place with matches against counties/states/provinces in between with both home team and tourists taking the 3 or 4 day matches seiously and reduce MASSIVELY the number of Limited Over Internationals, which are of little significance and generally boring. Both of these would I think enhance test matches. They must also, of course, be played at the right time, not only in the week but in the year and Australia must be prepared to play in South Africa or India over Christmas/New Year at least one year in four.

Posted by Dr.Vindaloo on (November 18, 2011, 14:45 GMT)

There are a few factors here. The first factor, which we shouldn't overlook, is that West Indies are a poor team full of nobodies. They are a bunch of one-day mercenaries with no identity. The second factor is cricket over-kill. The schedules are insane. Test series used to have a point to them and they would be eagerly awaited, properly marketed and ringfenced. These days no sooner has one team left India than another one jets in and immediately starts a new series. Why West Indies? Why now? There is just no context to the series at all. Then you've got the pitch issue. The surfaces they are currently playing on in South Africa make for exciting cricket, an even contest between bat and ball. The Kolkata surface was depressingly flat and it was so inevitable that India would score 600+, the only question was who would score the centuries. West Indies poor batting was just that - nothing to do with a sporting pitch. If BCCI protect and promote test cricket the crowds will come.

Posted by RohanMarkJay on (November 18, 2011, 14:36 GMT)

Harsha, just organize a bi annual Test Series with Pakistan. There is only one other Test Series other than the Ashes which captures the imagination and will be well supported by the cricket viewing public and that is a India vs Pakistan Home and away Test Series over 4 years like in the ashes. I can guarantee this will bring the crowds back to Test Cricket in India at least when Pakistan is playing. Who wouldn't want to watch some of India's excellent Batsman vs Pakistan's superbly talented bowlers of great variety. I think it would produce test cricket better than the Ashes if it was played. C'mon BCCI the ball is in your court. Re energize Test Cricket by playing regularly against Pakistan. Also it will do wonders for improving the tenuous political relationship between the two countries. Cricket can provide that bridge as it has done in the past for these two Test Cricket playing nations.

Posted by zuber21886 on (November 18, 2011, 14:16 GMT)

its not just test cricket haven't we seen less number of crowd in IND vs ENG ODI's

Posted by kasyapm on (November 18, 2011, 14:11 GMT)

Harsha, I feel we are over-doing it a bit here..if it is this way for a number of series, then you can draw some decent conclusions. But, this is one series. Agreed, the facilities at the grounds should be better, the marketing can improve and many people follow it on the internet. But, please understand that we, spectators, have been overloaded with cricket this year. We have lost apetite, atleast for this series. Just count the major events that took place this year - SA series, WC, IPL (ha!), CL, England series, England ODIs and now WI series & immediately after this the Aus series. No guesses that the Aus series will be more closely followed. The organizers tinker with the scheduling as much as possible, caring a damn for the spectator and in the end come up with conclusions like "oh test cricket is dying"..Allow the golden goose to lay eggs. Do not force it.

Posted by george204 on (November 18, 2011, 13:53 GMT)

The change has happened in an alarmingly short time as well: it's less than 20 years since the infamous "spin wash" 3-0 win against England in 1992/3. My over-riding memory is that tour is that the three grounds (Eden Gardens, Madras & the Wankhede) we packed to the rafters - absolute cauldrons of noise, waving banners, atmosphere. On England's next tour (a ridiculous 9 years later!) & with the advent of the "rotation policy", the three grounds (Mohali,Ahmedabad, Bangalore) were almost empty. Come on, Indian fans, get to the grounds & support both your team & the game! If England can sell out its test grounds year after year, so can you!

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 13:27 GMT)

Saturation point!!!

India (and all teams) play too much.

The Boards are ruining the game.

Posted by RoshanDgreat on (November 18, 2011, 13:18 GMT)

The last comment itself clears the picture..... people has to really toil hard to get to the stadium...then they have to wait in long queues with non-sense security checks without mobile, food and water and then face the sun till the evening(only in case of day/night ODI's). On the other hand last week I can see how people are enjoying match at newlands in southafrica...they have music, beer and food...and it seems like a festival. If people can enjoy to that extend inside the stadium they will definitely come and watch..else forget it for Test matches atleast...and wait for another world cup to happen in India.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 13:18 GMT)

It's not that test cricket has died down. It's only that the IPL and champions league which is always happening on these so called big grounds has just made people dis-interested. They have had enough of these stars and no one wants to watch a series with West indies where the result is obvious, no offense to the current WI team but it's a fact. Would have been interesting to see an India vs Eng test series gone like this. Though again we can state that the ODI viewership went down as the series progressed, but come on!! it was a decided after the third one day itself. Can't blame it on the crowd. Though one point I would definitely like to make, the test matches should now move to the smaller cities as well. It seems totally bizarre that test cricket will be only played in major venues, as if the best test playing pitches are produced there. Put your thinking cap on guys!! Stop patronizing only the metros and bigger cities for test cricket!!! It will help!

Posted by truebleue_cricfan on (November 18, 2011, 13:08 GMT)

Just wait till a certain Sachin Tendulkar announces his retirement. The sparse crowd that turns up in anticipation of his batting will also cease.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 11:57 GMT)

@Amit Bhatnagar, you're a lucky man then! i paid 3000 bucks for the Indo-Pak ODI in SMS in Jaipur in December 2007 (in which PK made his ODI debut) and was baked in sun for the entire 1st innings, as the stands were open (December sun in Jaipur is harsh if you're made to sit the entire day). And then at night, it was almost freezing. I was not allowed cellphone, food or water. i was made to buy those stupid water pouches of Rs 3 each, and unhygienic food. And if that was not enough, the toilets were overflowing with you know what and we had no option but to dip our shoes in them and pee. I haven't mentioned the ordeal to reach the stadium. It was the 1st and probably the last time i watched an ODI in a stadium. All in all, a very poor experience and something that most of us here will corroborate.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 11:36 GMT)

I think a lot of cricket organised on eden before this match IPL, champions league, world cup, ind vs eng matches, so the audience of kolkata hv already bored, so board should organise some matches to smaller vanue like kanpur, rajkot, indor, gwalior etc I belongs to UP and there is hardly 1 match happened at kanpur in last 4 years........

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 11:29 GMT)

We need to do one or more of the following to bring people back to cricket ground - in particular for test matches - in India. (a) Block TV coverage withi certain radius from the Stadium in the HOST city if the tickets are NOT sold out 72 hours before start of the match - this is what NFL does in the US (b) Reduce tickets prices so there is a good option for every segment of cricket lovers (c) Go back to original grounds (Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Delhi, Kanpur) and fixed traditional schedule (new year test in Eden, Pongal Test in Chennai etc) (d) Give good amenities (parking, seating, restrooms, canteens) that everyone can enjoy.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 11:28 GMT)

I'm a bit tired of supposed well-informed journalists blaming lack of attendance at games on lack of interests in TESTS. Indians are one of few cricket fans who would probably watch their heroes in the nets given half the chance, so I don't think you can blame it on lack of interest! Affordable tickets, decent stadium conditions and meaningful (>3) test series would help. 1000 spectators paying 100 for a ticket still makes the vendor the same money as 100,000 spectators paying 1, but we know which test we would rather watch on TV. Alas, those at the top don't want to listen and those who go on about the death of tests, I feel, have an urge for a self-fulfilling prophecy if they speak about it often enough.

Posted by CanTHeeRava on (November 18, 2011, 11:18 GMT)

Harsha has hit the nail on its head. Empty eden is really worrying. Phantom (The Ghost who walks) has to rescue test cricket. The playing surface at Eden did not deserve a test match. I don't know when BCCI would wake up and ask local groundsmen to prepare competitive-fair pitches. Dead pitches are more dangerous than dead stadia for the future of test cricket.

Posted by baskar_n on (November 18, 2011, 11:17 GMT)

Here is my five point programme to improve crowd turn-out - or call it common sense in action 1. Make it cheaper and appealing - Students and senior citizens go free - throw in packages at reduced rate that attract families to cricket. Give reward points for regular visitors at the ground and get those with max points meet and greet the team 2. Schedule it sensibly - test matches should start on Wednesdays or Thursdays - if you can't get that right - then better dont' play 3. Make them special - Iconic series - The best teams should play at an optimum frequency (like once in 4 years at home )- For e.g Australia can't be touring India for Test matches every other year (like 2008 and 2010). 4. Broadcasting - good to try the old Australian way of not televising cricket live at the local center where its played 5. Facilities - Last but not the least - let private events management group work with the host association to create better facilities at the ground

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 11:14 GMT)

Why can't they reduce ticket prices drastically and make its availability easy. Cricket lovers like me will always be watching at home if the facilities at grounds are zero. And add to it, massive mismanagement by BCCI does not allow the stadiums to be fully packed. We just saw how stadiums were empty even in the ODIs against England. Sachin factor perhaps. But even though Sachin is playing now, stadiums are still empty. Not a good sign for BCCI and world cricket at large. Free entry in Tests should be considered.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 11:01 GMT)

Well i beleive not only test cricket but ODI too are meaningless .. They should take some lessons from fifa , though football has many advantages compared to cricket still a lot can be improved by taking following points 1) scrap meaningless tours even for test and ODI and follow a more historical pattern ..mayb creating a annual champions league of ODI with1 or 2 home and away ODI format scheduled before hand ...and at the end of year winner takes the ODI trophy and also cutting the ODIs per team from mayb 30-35 to 20-24 maximum but should be fixed for all years. 2) for test i believe they should learn from ashes ..ashes is loved because its played once in two years and there is some history to relate..i dont know how sequentially placed india played other team ..i just think its more sporadic like playing srilanka for 7 consecutive meaningless test 3)finally some CL type home away concept can be designed for TEST as well say in a 2 year period but a consistent format needs to made

Posted by mits6 on (November 18, 2011, 10:32 GMT)

Dear Harsha ,public turnout was not outstanding even during the ODIs against England ,a much better opponent than WI and when much more was at stake . Definitely its overdose of cricket that is killing it . Earlier we used to WAIT to see great players among various teams play . BIG GUNS PLAYING IN LOCAL LEAGUES KILL THIS ENTHUSIASM and the curiousity is certainly vanishing.

Posted by RoshanDgreat on (November 18, 2011, 10:07 GMT)

This situation also has to do with the invent of technology. If people have the facility of watching match on my mobile, TV, internet then why should they be bothered to go in stadium to watch the match without any facilities.

Posted by mamboman on (November 18, 2011, 9:55 GMT)

Modern day Indians are a very crude and uncultured people - obviously the nuances and attention investment of test Cricket is beyond them. Let them play their childish 20/20 - it much better suits their infantile world outlook.

Posted by deepak_sholapurkar on (November 18, 2011, 9:51 GMT)


why can't move the Test Crickets to the District places,smaller places. Definately you will going to see the people comming to the stadium. Test Cricket in a place like Mysore/Belgaum will attract more spectrators rather than the people in metros.

I remember in 1990's Ranaji Matches used tobe played in district places, somewhere in 1997-98 there was a Ranji between Hydrabad and Karnataka. Stadium was full with people. But from next year onwards that plan was scraped saying "facilities were not standard and pitch was not good".

Now you create better facilities in stadium, better pitch and if player's can compromise on there accomadation(Instead of 5 star say 3 Star) we can see stadium full of people.

And BCCI need to reduce the matches not the international but IPL/CL etc. Now watching cricket is like daily routine. When ever you start any sports channel u will see some match is being telecast.


Posted by sukuviju on (November 18, 2011, 9:41 GMT)

I am happy spectators have stayed away from cricket grounds. It is time BCCI thought about the fans who visit the stadiums - we need better facilities in cricket stadiums - clean toilets in every stand, food stalls in every stand, roof on top of the stand, large TV screen strategically placed in plenty on all the stands for spectators to watch replays. Reserve 25% of each stadium for students and provide the students with free passes - the organisers can distribute tickets to schools and the school administrators can distribute the tickets to deserving children who are good in sports.

Posted by Nduru on (November 18, 2011, 9:33 GMT)

@Madhusudan Rao: Don't be so quick to call Zimbabwe a 'non performer' in tests dude. We only made our return 3 tests ago and performed extremely well. We beat Bangaldesh convincingly, performed better against Pakistan than Sri Lanka just did, and then played an awsome test with New Zealand which is one of the best matches played this year. We may have lost, but we went down fighting for a win. This surely beats the very boring Indian team performances of recent times, which is like watching paint drying. Not surprising nobody wants to watch them.

Posted by boredkumar on (November 18, 2011, 9:14 GMT)

I am sure people have covered many points in their comments. but the point about facilities and security in harsha's article is a very valid point. For the India Eng ODI at wankhede, i purchased tickets for 4000 for my bday was agreeable to sit in the sun for half the innings. When i reached there i was told water per GLASS would cost Rs. 10 (not bottle but one glass) and to top it all...We were not allowed to take water to our seats!!!!! that is for a one day game..why would i want to go there again and not watch at home with a beer??

Posted by hassan13 on (November 18, 2011, 9:10 GMT)

How about less IPL games and odi series??? Test cricket requires narrative. This was a poor series because it is was superstars feasting on medium pacers on flat tracks. Get a series between pak and ind on a track that will produce results and you wont see an empty seat!

Posted by sweetspot on (November 18, 2011, 8:59 GMT)

@SpinMeOut - Money is not a problem for the average urban Indian these days. Know what the lower priced tickets for IPL games go for? 1500-5000 rupees! They get sold out much better than these Test match tickets at 600 for 5 days. Provide value and the Indian cricket consumer is bound to come to the stadium. TV coverage of course is always available and is the safer option, in many cases. What if we show up at the stadium and the match is a dud? On TV, we can simply switch off and do something else.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 8:54 GMT)

It is high time they move the international matches to smaller centres where fans are waiting to see their stars in action.will Bcci do the needful.If the facilities at these centres needs to be improved it should be taken at the earliest. Almost all major test centres host Ipl and fans are spoit for choice . It is no wonder they choose the matches which suit their purse and time In test matches the viewers are forced to sit under hot sun for longer hours which is not a pleasant experience. The cost of tickets should be brought down to suit the middle class who form the chunk of fans .School children from government schools may be provided free passes.I have been watching cricket for the past 30 years Test cricket is the best form of cricket and should not be allowed to die because of greed of certain people.Bcci acounts should be made public .And nobody should be allowed to misuse it`s funds It should be used only to develop cricket

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 8:41 GMT)

It is time we need someone like a Lalit Modi to reinvent test cricket like its other avatars. Yes, it will be helpful if the non-performers like Zimbabwe, West Indies, Bangladesh are relegated to another division. Giving test matches its space in the yearly calendar is important as well. The Indian spectator is tired after seeing so many matches played right from the World Cup - fatigue had kicked in and the sight of WI does not sell itself!

Posted by Scorp on (November 18, 2011, 8:36 GMT)

" I am increasingly fearful that people talk about the glory of Test cricket like they do about world peace and Mother Teresa: because it is a nice thing to be heard saying."... this for me is THE MOST IMPORTANT statement in this article... blunt.. honest... fact... its not T-20 and not just the over-kill.. but the quality which is killing the interest... players know abt each other so much dat is difficult to see the novelty in the contests... many things coming together to tk the audience away from the stadia... lets (unfortunately) wait and watch wat solution the Bigwigs come up with now..

Posted by Pete789 on (November 18, 2011, 8:30 GMT)

Harsha, not everybody is a VIP like you. I'll give you my experience in Bangalore, that too in a high-priced stand:

There was no sign saying mobiles were not allowed. Security let me pass with my mobile, ie they saw it and checked it also and let me inside the ground.

Once inside the stand, before the game had started, I spoke to a friend on my mobile. From behind, someone suddenly grabbed my mobile out of my hand. I looked to see who it was. It was a mean looking policeman. When I asked him why did so, he said, "Mobiles are not allowed". I told him there were no signs saying so, and he said, "I don't care". Luckily, the policeman behind him was a lot nicer, and retrieved my mobile and handed it back to me.

My young son was with me at the time and he wanted to know why the policeman had treated me so badly, and he was scared. I had no answer for him. My son told me he will never go to a cricket ground again, and always tells me to watch matches on TV instead.

Posted by sweetspot on (November 18, 2011, 8:19 GMT)

Unnoticed by cricket authorities, Indian audiences have suddenly grown up. We want to be treated like human beings, not like cattle going to the slaughter. First ask them to maintain facilities properly, ensure shade in the stands, and provide value for money being spent. In any case, the sooner we get out of this farce called Test cricket, the better. It had its place in history, and it is the harder format to succeed in, but who cares how hard it is if it is not fun to watch? It is like watching a musician practice - pure torture, with occasional pleasure. Let them practice away from us, then come back to give us their performances in the shorter formats.

Posted by bampok on (November 18, 2011, 8:16 GMT)

I think, cricket in general is loosing its appeal to attract people. Watching the matches is very painful and not the most enjoying occasion in Indian stadiums. Harsha has nailed it perfectly that the facilities need to be improved as people in general are getting very particular of the facilities offered. For test cricket in particular, the 3rd and 4th day should coincide with weekends. Schools children should be given tickets and facilities to watch the matches in the stadiums. Security should be sensible in allowing posters, fancy clothing, mobiles, drums etc. int he stadium.

Posted by ravirrs on (November 18, 2011, 8:08 GMT)

This is is not the state of TEST Matches. Eden gardens had empty stands during the Final ODI between IND and ENG. This is clear overdode of cricket and the schedule is saD. You cannot expect crowd when you start a TEST matches on Monday or Tuesday ! I appreciate that you did touch the facilities in the stadium. But according to me it is the over dose of cricket - especially for Indian team not good !

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 7:51 GMT)

@AK.47 - I think a little bit too much is made out of spectator comfort in Test venues of India. Yes, there could be improvement, but then that holds true for all aspects of life. For the first time in my life, I went to watch a cricket match live on the ground in Kotla last week. Bought the ticket online, and followed the security guidelines printed on the back of the ticket. It was a seamless experience. Toilets were clean, bottled water was easily available, food was nice, and the view of the playing field was great. Declining spectator presence in the stadiums has more to do with lack of interest in the longer version, and a cricket over-kill rather than poor spectator facilities. Those facilities may not be 5-star but they ain't slum-class either. So, please stop blaming them for poor attendance at venues.

Posted by SpinMeOut on (November 18, 2011, 7:50 GMT)

I'm an aussie who after reading this article searched on the web for tickets for the 2nd test. From what I see, most of the cheapest tickets are already sold out. They cost 150 to 600 INR for a 5 day ticket. Given the average wage in India is about 50,000 INR, that's expensive for the average Indian. In 2001, the Indian crowds gave the Aus in Ind Test series an unbelievable atmosphere. The majority of those at the 2nd test in Eden Park paid much less than that to enter. I believe it is the conditions of entry that have changed more than the cricket fans opinion of Test cricket.

Posted by UglyIndian on (November 18, 2011, 7:33 GMT)

Where were all the BCCI apologists, when their sheer and incompetence mis-management led to people being lathi-charged while trying to get tickets to a WC game in Bangalore? Does anyone remember? Now, its the paying public thats giving BCCI the finger for the inhuman treatment meted out to it. Way to go people! Stick to the man!

Posted by ashvenky on (November 18, 2011, 7:23 GMT)

I remember one test which I saw in Kolkata.1984 England toured India fans were angry with Gavaskar and 'NO KAPIL NO TEST' was seen on all wall streets. Yet it was a full stadium on Day1. They booed Gavaskar when he got for a low score. There were nearly 1 lac spectators and when I saw the sea of humanity I got shvers in my body. They are very knwldegeable as well. Sandip Patil was dropped and Azharuddin walked in. The roar and cheer given to Azhar was amzaing as he walked in to bat on Bedut. He made a century but match was drwan I think. Many more memorable tests: 1996 Vs SA. Azhar hit 5 consecutive fours off Klusener . India lost.1993: After sevaral failures Azhar came to form with a fluent 180+ Vs Englad and India won. I thin he was debting as Captain and scored a century in quick time.1998: Vs Aust Azhar scored 160+ and India won. 2001: Laxman's 281 after following on Vs Aust and India won. Used to be really great there at Eden Gardens and the discussions outside!

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 7:13 GMT)

@HarshaBhogle Test cricket does face its challenges given what spectators experience in stadiums and the lack of professionalism in the cricketing establishment - factors rightly pointed out in the previous responses. Having said that with the advent of IPL and T20 there is a shift taking place and I do see that you have acknowledged it. Unless drastic measures are taken we could be seeing the beginning of the end of this format.

Posted by CricketConnectsDotCom on (November 18, 2011, 7:08 GMT)

State Boards have to introduce "membership / subscription based admission" for cricket matches. Example for Stand A: Pay Rs 100 & watch any weekday test match at Eden Gardens free for 12 months. Pay Rs 1000 & watch any day's test match free for 12 months. Pay Rs 10000 and watch any match (Test or ODI, not T20) free for 12 months. Admission to stadium is on first come first served basis AND subject to availability of seats. Tickets "always" on sale at the stadium and select outlets. A limited number of seats could be made available on "spot purchase" basis during match days. How does this sound? I don't mind buying for matches at Bangalore at above rates.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 7:07 GMT)

Dear Harsha. I am 42 and originally from Calcutta. I went to my first Test match at the Eden in 1978 (West Indies), only 2 days though....as tickets were much sought after. I feel there were a few issues with what has been happening in Indian cricket and the Eden of late. Even after so many months, I still cannot fathom as to why India held a world cup and no meanginful match was played at the Greatest and oldest cricket stadium in India. Secondly, the England India one day at the Eden was a dead rubber. Surely the BCCI could have awarded the first one day to Eden instaed of the last? Seeing that Eden did not get any good match during the World cup. Thirdly - in the name of security going for any sporting meet in India is hellish. Recently I went for the F1 in UP. I was in the picnic stand south - guess what? they had a grassy bank but no picnic. No bar-b-q's, no beer and no fun. But then the BCCI is all about West and North now isn't it?

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (November 18, 2011, 7:07 GMT)


Posted by MrPud on (November 18, 2011, 7:04 GMT)

All the talk of the demise of test cricket is rubbish and based purely on the glut of matches in India. Test match attendances in England, Australia and South Africa are strong. Agree with aruntheselector that matches MUST start on a Thursday or Friday to maximise weekend attendance. Playing a match during the working week is ridiculous. Of course attendances will be down. My friends and I organise our annual leave around the Adelaide test every year and the coming test will be no exception. The fact that most overseas telecasts are only available on pay T.V. has lowered interest among even the most ardent fans. Guaranteeing income to national boards through T.V. rights has actually reduced the fan base to only the wealthy. In the 32 years since my first live match, I have been to 3 ODI's, no 20/20's and at least one day of every Adelaide test. Limited overs matches are played to a formula and predictable, therefore boring. Give me the glorious uncertainty of a test any time.

Posted by annys on (November 18, 2011, 6:57 GMT)

well i cant understand why Harsha Bhogle is surprised at the attaendance at eden gardens !!!. The low attendance is not because it is Test cricket even if it was T20 it would have been the same in most venues.I think Harsha has to do the following

1. Stand in a queue to buy a ticket 24 hrs ahead of the counter opening or pay 10 times the original price in black 2. sit in pathetic chairs where the pigeons keep firing at you throughout the match 3. eat and drink pathetic items for 5 times the original rates 4. use the toilets 5. Under the harassment by police at every check point 6. take the risk of poor security 7. park and walk 5kms away from stadium 8. face the harrassment by police again after the match outside the stadium if its day nighter 9.starve the night after the match because most restaurants close by 11:30

tell me then if he wants to watch a test match again in the stadium in India. BCCI is really poor in its customer service :)

Posted by mayankximbcricinfo on (November 18, 2011, 6:44 GMT)

I dont think test Cricket is dying as shown by lack of audience in Kolkata test Its the quality of opposition. Who wants to watch india vs westindies just see the crowds and interest during India Aus Series . Many of them are waiting for india aus test series from few months. I am counting my days till 26th december And also there may have been more crowd if scheduling was proper but major reason is india vs westindies people want to see competetive cricket in competetive pitches I remember the centuries scored by indian batsman in Aus England and SA but i hardly remeber the centuries scored by india in indian conditions have a test match in india from monday to friday featuring Aus,SA, Pak or England and you will see a whole lot of crowd

Posted by SamAlex2 on (November 18, 2011, 6:43 GMT)

Demand is decreasing. Reduce the price. Improve the facilities -- cleaner toilets, allow home food & water (an airline can allow it, why not the stadium), better management of entry/exit/parking. People will go to the stadium if it's a pleasant experience. All said and done, quality of cricket also matters. WI is not what they used to be. That's a factor too. I suggest BCCI auctions the tickets rather than sell at fixed price.

Posted by Stop_Genocide_SL on (November 18, 2011, 6:39 GMT)

@ Adarsh Sreenivasan Lathika .....Are u the ' POWER STAR' of Tamil Nadu.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 6:35 GMT)

IPL is killing all forms of cricket, be it Test, ODIs or T20. Yes even T20. No one gives a damn anymore.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 6:32 GMT)

The BCCI has been trying very hard to keep people out of the stadiums. I went to watch an India-Aus test match at Wankhede stadium back in my college days for a fun afternoon. In the name of security, they were imposing all sorts of nonsense...No cameras. no cell phones. No nothing...not even a water bottle....and there was absolutely no arrangement at the stadium for safe keeping of personal stuff that aren't allowed in. I had no choice but to turn back after buying the ticket..Even if by some wonder, you manage to get into the stadium...all you can look forward to are stinking toilets and utter lack of any facilities...Test cricket is the REAL DEAL..if the world's richest cricket board is only interested in making money through broadcasting rights, short-changing stadium audience and taking them for granted...such incidents are bound to happen...BCCI must improve stadium facilities and stop troubling the genuine cricket fans that want to watch REAL cricket

Posted by nuru76 on (November 18, 2011, 6:28 GMT)

Can u also add the ' pitch ' criteria here ? 2 tests so far , with low slow sluggish tracks , surely don't make for attractive viewng and playing . Turners don't neccessarily have to be low n slow ! Delhi test resembled like who can play underarm cricket better ! Eden was not that dissimilar . Lowering tkt rates was a right step but not the only one in the right direction .

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 6:21 GMT)

At last some sense prevails in this country! I am happy people have acknowledged the fact that the country (or the BCCI's team) is playing non-stop above average cricket where win or loss (even a whitewash) is not huge anymore. There is no time to enjoy the success (world cup) or reflect on the failures (England series) for the team and the fans. Its hardly a surprise no one turned out. Way to go people! There's no meaning in watching a contest where everyone's worried about not getting injured and playing within themselves. People will comeback if you bring on 100% fit ready to give everything cricketers which I feel is impossible with this kind of schedule.

Posted by jonesy2 on (November 18, 2011, 6:19 GMT)

same with the crowds at the wanderers yesterday, absolutely disgraceful. yet come day one at the gabba there will be a packed house. THATS why australia will always be the greatest cricketing nation.

Posted by karthi.1729 on (November 18, 2011, 6:16 GMT)

According to me the foremost problem is the schedule. When you schedule a test match from monday - friday (all working days) and how can we expect the crowd??

Posted by yasserrizwan on (November 18, 2011, 5:59 GMT)

Is it absolutely important for BCCI to follow rotation policy for organizing tests ? When Australia played India in Bangalore last year, we saw packed houses - all 5 days. Yet if it is mandatory to follow rituals by awarding tests to grounds where audiences do not turn up, we are killings the purest form of game, whatever is left of it. Chennai, 1998 will be etched in history not only a game of test cricket, but something for which i do not have words to articulate. Standing ovation for winning team but home crowd but gesture of brilliance & maturity. Give more tests to Chennai & Bangalore, that 'll be real service to game.Let more ODI's, T20's happen at grounds where audience savours every shot to be outside the park, and let Tests happen more often, even if it is out of turn/rotation at places where audience savours Tendulkar Vs Steyn or Ponting Vs Zak.

Posted by karthik666 on (November 18, 2011, 5:53 GMT)

Yes matches in Chennai do have packed stadiums .. I am a volunteer at Chepauk and i can guarantee any test at chennai has a full house .

Posted by akhilhp on (November 18, 2011, 5:52 GMT)

I think it was partly due to the opposition. In the match with South Africa there was huge crowd (if any body remembers). This time also if the match would have been with some strong opponent (in the eyes of spectators of course) the stands would have been full.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 5:47 GMT)

Harsha, go watch some Test match from the stands (as a common person, not as VIP/commentator) and you would know why people don't turn up. The BCCI would do well to put some of its massive money into improving the standards of facilities.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 5:46 GMT)

Wanderers was empty as well on the first day of the match yesterday. So, yes, Test Match cricket has few takers, not only in India but also in other parts of the world. The administrators need to take bold measures to reverse this trend. Not in my domain to suggest what those measures should be, but to expect the short-sighted administrators to take whatever those measures could be is to expect the sun to rise from the west. My kids may never be able to learn the virtues of life which the longer form of the game teaches. Unless I send them to England where that form is still held in high esteem.

Posted by tradetekbiz on (November 18, 2011, 5:36 GMT)

@Aruntheselector: speaking of standards, how about winning an away test in England? Even the Pakistani team (with their apparently poor standard) in the midst of controversy was able to do that. India's bowling is as bad if not worse than WI, after India's great top and middle order retires, a team full of the likes of bhajji, sharma, etc. would be about as bad as Bangladesh.

Posted by AK.47 on (November 18, 2011, 5:27 GMT)

Harsha, have you ever bothered walking into a stadium to watch a test match or a one day or a T-20 as a common cricket fan and not as a privileged VIP? If you did, you wouldn't be writing this today. Test cricket doesn't have a problem. People who are managing Test cricket have a problem.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 5:27 GMT)

It's far too soon to be writing a virtual obituary for Test cricket in India. If the match had involved a better opposition team, sensible scheduling, cheaper tickets, and a more pleasant stadium experience, it's entirely likely that people would have come to watch. But all those things would require a modicum of competence and dynamism from the BCCI, and that may be too much to ask for.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 5:15 GMT)

Agree Harsha. In my childhood days in Kolkata, a test match was nothing short of a festival. Everyone in the city would talk about it. And the privileged one who would have tickets would not stop raving about it. It didn't matter which day the match started, who is batting, who is playing, or for that matter traffic, bandh or any such thing. I remember the India vs South Africa match in 1996 (debut match for Lance Klusener) first day SA scored more than 300 runs at a rate of 4 per over with just 2 wickets falling. The stadium was full and no one moved till the last ball was bowled. And it was a weekday. Hope these days come back soon. But some work needs to be done. Has anyone in ICC (or BCCI) heard something called marketing? One person surely did, Mr. Lalit Mody, but he is not to be seen anywhere!

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 5:05 GMT)

The photo in this article does seem to have a lot of people in the stands in the background.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (November 18, 2011, 4:46 GMT)

"Maybe Test cricket ought to be played by fewer teams". What Harsha has left unsaid is that players from lesser countries like Windies, New Zealand, Sri Lanka etc. should stop playing first class cricket totally and hand over their players en masse to feed these ridiculous T20 leagues. But instead why can't the ICC make it easy for players from stronger cricketing nations overflowing with quality cricketes like India, Australia, England and South Africa to give their services to lesser nations like West Indies,New Zealand, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe etc. Imagine what a difference Badrinath will make to Windies batting line up. How invaluable will be Simon Katich to a New Zealand top order. Please ICC, think out of the box and save Test cricket (I bet BCCI will disagree to this suggestion too as they have done with the DRS which is doing a magnificent service to the game at present in the AUS-SA series).

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 4:46 GMT)

I am sure if the test was hosted in Chennai, we would have seen proper attendance. For some reasons, BCCI has been indifferent to hosting matches in Chennai. If anyone has doubts please go and have a look at the number of tests hosted in Chennai in the last decade with the numbers from previous decades

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 4:45 GMT)

Harsha its the Indian Public who is losing interest in Test Cricket, the England-India test at England were sold out!. Its the quality of opposition and the type of wickets matters. We have seen enough of Indian batting stars scoring piles of runs in batting friendly wickets and sub-standard bowling attacks & spinning out oppositions. If West Indies were to have players like Viv, Lara, the bowling greats iam sure Eden gardens or Chepauk would have been a full house. Its just not the lack of crowd at the stadium even the TRP ratings of cricket matches have gown down drastically!. Given a chance every Indian cricket fan would have love to be at SA watching Aus vs SA rather than India vs West Indies. Better oppositions sporting wickets will produce quality Test cricket bring out the best of player's skill and mental strength.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (November 18, 2011, 4:41 GMT)

I feel that TV coverage is the main reason why people are opting not to go to the ground. The view on TV is excellent and there are other things like replays,expert comments etc Then there is the comfort of seeing the game at home instead of the ritual of reaching the ground which I can assure you is pretty daunting in places like Calcutta and Delhi.In the south people still go to the ground but that is rather traditional.The sceduling should be more well planned. If the game is from Monday to Friday as it was in Calcutta,it only gives a reason on why people did not go to the ground.I saw my first match at the Brabourne in 1954 and I can tell you I did not sleep for 2 nights before the game with the excitement.There was only radio commentaries those days. So going to the ground and seeing your heros live with glistening bats and red balls actually playing was I can tell you pretty exciting.I am not sure interest in the game has dwindled so much.Stoping live TV broadcast is the answer.

Posted by Biju_George on (November 18, 2011, 4:41 GMT)

There were time both players and viewers interested in the game then its only viewers and eventually now both are NOT.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 4:39 GMT)

Even watching it is becoming painful now a days...commentators behave as if the audience needs to be spoonfed every thing that's happening out there...they will discuss sachin's 10 runs more religiously than a dravid's or laxman's 50-100...or anybody else for that matter.

It also needs some major overhaul...

Posted by nilayb on (November 18, 2011, 4:36 GMT)

It is just because of excessive unwanted cricket that is going on. It is very simple - if you only get a chance to experience an event that you love only once a year, you will wait for that event and go crazy when that actually happens. But, if you are asked to take that experience, every other day, you will get bored and the importance of that event will go away. International cricket needs to slow down. When you just have 10 teams (with 2-3 of them hardly competitive), how long can you keep watching bilateral series between these teams month after month. It will get boring and if you promote useless events like IPL & Champions trophy and big bass and what not, this gets even worse. So, the simple solution is - play less games!

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 4:34 GMT)

I think it is specific case with India, so wouldn't be fair to generalize it. But yes, India, a big cricketing nation, seems to have loose interest for the purest form of Cricket & that is terrible but it doesn't mean Test's future is in jeopardy coz there are enough people still who love Test the best!

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 4:30 GMT)

I. Guess one way to encourage kids to watch the game would be to all free entry for school kids, also allow the inter-school champions a entry to the pavilion or nearer stands. I am sure seeing the cricketers in flesh n skin would encourage the younger generation

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 4:27 GMT)

There is a clear apathy towards Cricket in general, not only Test cricket. Everyone now follows even the ODIs, mostly on the internet and only get to their TV sets when the last 10 overs are on or during the final overs of a chase.But the BCCI insists to have meaningless 5 match bilateral ODI series, when a three match series would suffice. Even for the overhyped IPL, only the home team's matches are watched live and other matches don't have any serious following. The BCCI should scrap the home and away fixtures of IPL and make it a league, where each team plays the other only once. Every sport without an off season is bound to be killed by greed and that is what is happening to cricket in India. Unless sporting pitches like the one we got in Newlands and the Wanderers this week are made mandatory, the following of cricket in India will go downhill rapidly.

Posted by Paddle_Sweep on (November 18, 2011, 4:24 GMT)

I will tell you the real reason. Commentators and players will never understand this as would have never experienced the below.

1. The stadiums offer a terrible experience to the customers. You can tolerate it for 3 hours but not for 5 days. 2. Ever tried visiting the common man's toilet in the stadiums. Take a tour of that. You will know. 3. Ever tried purchasing water cups from the stadium. A single small water cup costs about Rs. 20 in the Chepauk. Think how much you will spend on water for a 1 day match or a 5 day match. 4. Ever stood in the queue to the match and how the police and the officials treat you.

The above may not be the only reasons but certainly one of the many reasons.

Posted by aruntheselector on (November 18, 2011, 4:14 GMT)

Empty Eden Gardens is not anyone in the cricketing world is used to.Definitely shows that there is urgent need to bring Test cricket back on track.But the organisers are also to be blamed.The match should have started on a Thursday.Then there would have been a good crowd from the second half of friday and who knows a large one on Saturday and Sunday.This also shows that people of Kolkata are more serious about their work these days.Moreover,an India-WI encounter has got no charm any more.Definitely WI with Lara,Ambrose & Walsh would have attracted more crowd.The standard of opposition do matter.Had it been an India-Aust/India-SA/India-Pak (not for standard of Pak team,but the emotions & history)/India-England encounter,starting on a Thursday,the difference would have been felt.Saturday and Sunday(Day 3&4)would have been packed and there would have been a good turnout on monday too as the chances of the game going into Day 5 would be high and an exciting finish would have been in offer.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 4:03 GMT)

The article cries out against purely romantic interest in Test cricket and yet does just that. The article talks about the pressing need to address this issue and yet does not make any concrete suggestions, save a few pointers in the last paragraph. Does this article actually raise some concern? The last time a Test match was played at the Eden Gardens (vs SA last year), the talk was all about how Test cricket is alive at this venue. At the WC, even after India matches were removed from the venue, there was good crowd at Ireland matches. The same was lacking in the Ind-Eng matches a few weeks back. So did something happen in the last few months? For this series in particular, match dates and venues were not announced till a few weeks back. Does that not have a role to play? Are BCCI, ICC and other boards really interested in saving Test cricket and are commentators like Mr. Bhogle actually interested in sending them a clear message?

Posted by Gizza on (November 18, 2011, 4:03 GMT)

This year cricket in India was packed. World Cup and IPL. There will hopefully be less days of cricket next year. Less days of cricket and assuming equal number of fans, the maths says a greater number of fans per game. If you want more fans per game under for the same number of games then the constant will be amount spent on going to the cricket. Reduce prices by half and almost double the number of people will came (won't be double because there's still travel costs and time including losing a day off from work if it is a weekday plus the second experience won't be as enjoyable as the first due to Ricardo's Law of Diminishing Returns).

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 3:54 GMT)

I do not see a solution to this at all. BCCI does not care about attendance in the grounds for test matches any more. This is not the first time that test matches have started on Mondays and this will not be the last time. Things at the ground will change (like buying tickets, getting parking, organising public transport, providing decently priced food, and the most difficult, providing clean seats to sit on) only when people stop going to ODIs and T-20s too. Till then BCCI will not wake up. They get enough revenues from TV and also the crowd attendance by staging meaningless ODIs and T20's. Harsha, at least for now, some of us are reading your articles on this topic, in a year or two from now there will be no-takers for these topics. Because it will become even more irrelevant.

BTW, I love test matches more than ODIS and abhor T20's. But I would not pay a single penny or paisa for the kind of treatment meted out to us if we were to go see the match at the venue.

Posted by maddinson on (November 18, 2011, 3:35 GMT)

problem is only in subcontinent, Australia, England and SA still get almost full house in test cricket. May be too much batting pitches doesn't provide any balance apart from many reason mentioned here

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 3:35 GMT)

Don't you think that this is also a sign that India is a more productive nation than it was in the 80s or 90s? More people are working and do not spend time to watch test matches all day long. They prefer to follow it when they get time. "Empty" stands don't mean that no one follows test matches or that no one likes test matches. As long as people follow it even on television, the quintessential form of the game will not die out. I don't think we need to panic because 80,000 people don't turn up to watch a test match.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 3:33 GMT)

the issue of vacant test venues is being debated widely in the news. but should it really matter? i personally have been following cricket since india toured SA in early 1990s.. i have never been to a stadium to watch a match except for an IPL one.. but then again, i havent missed a cricket match,whether ODI or test in TV. since the last few years i am working and hence watching day matches are not possible and therefore i follow the match online, through cricinfo. does it mean my love for Test or any form of cricket has gone down? NO. i follow cricket from all nations including their domestic games whenever it is shown in TV or through cric info. i feel we should consider the fact that life of an avg. cricket follower has changed; he has his constrains and that therefore when we talk about test viewership, we should count the page hits for sites like cricinfo, the online viewing, facebook updates etc.. besides, We are expected to win against WI. would you go for that match ?

Posted by InsideHedge on (November 18, 2011, 3:03 GMT)

I haven't been to a game in India yet but I suspect that despite the security, and other inconveniences, I would enjoy the experience. On the other hand, the experience of watching a game on Indian TV is crass and awful. There's a commercial at the end of EVERY over, often the 1st ball of the next over is lost.

Indians are used to this nonsense, TV has become worse than the American nonsense it loves to ape. There's nothing but reality TV on air, and "news" programmes that are built to hype and generate controversy. Every cricket game is over-analyzed, often by a panel of cricketers who were quite ordinary in their playing days. I don't like to insult former players but I always laugh when the ones who were below-par in their own careers become de-facto experts. Overkill.

Posted by Stevo_ on (November 18, 2011, 3:03 GMT)

The 1st Test at the Gabba is always starts on Thursday so I alwasy take Thur and fri off. You know it's coming every year so if you call yourself true fan of cricket you should be taking the day off work and getting out to the game. Too mnay highlight cricket fans in India ..

Posted by rafe01 on (November 18, 2011, 2:59 GMT)

They started the test on a Monday? Are they even trying?

Posted by InsideHedge on (November 18, 2011, 2:56 GMT)

Well said, Harsha. However, I would like to point out a few things:

(1) Tickets were priced very well, with the cheapest at only Rs. 50. You could pretty much sit anywhere, have a great view. The Mon-Fri scheduling isn't to blame. Indian fans have not been showing up at Tests since the 80s, now we're seeing it in Limited Overs cricket too. (2) Sadly, cricket's popularity is over-hyped in India. It would help if journalists didn't use cliches such as "cricket is religion in India" or "More than a billion fans". Factually incorrect! (3) In Eng, the fans buy tickets MONTHS in advance, and you won't get anything cheaper than 40 Pounds, that's a lot of money! Almost every Test is sold out, this includes all 5 days. Look at the crowd that showed up for the Eng-WI T20 games that took place at the end of a very long summer that saw SL & India visit. Those two T20s were sold out at The Oval even tho they were dud games.

It looks pretty grim to me.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2011, 2:55 GMT)

The stadiums in India usually provide such a terrible experience, it's a wonder people go at all.

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Harsha BhogleClose
Harsha Bhogle Harsha Bhogle is one of the world's leading cricket commentators. Starting off as a chemical engineer and going on to work in advertising before moving into television, he is also a writer, quiz host, television presenter and talk-show host, and a corporate motivational speaker. He was voted Cricinfo readers' "favourite cricket commentator" in a poll in 2008, and one of his proudest possessions is a photograph of a group of spectators in Pakistan holding a banner that said "Harsha Bhogle Fan Club". He has commentated on nearly 100 Tests and more than 400 ODIs.

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