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Does Kolkata still love Test cricket?

Fans aren't packing into Eden Gardens like they used to. A few reasons why that may be

Mudar Patherya

November 28, 2011

Comments: 69 | Text size: A | A

Renovation works goes on in the stands for the World Cup, India v Sri Lanka, 4th ODI, December 24, 2009
How many office-bunkers among them? © AFP
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Harsha Bhogle : Oh no, not at Eden
Series/Tournaments: West Indies tour of India
Teams: India
Grounds: Eden Gardens

For decades an inscrutable viral outbreak would descend on Kolkata on the eve of every local Test match. The generally able-bodied would cough into the phone and croak from unusually subdued throats that the doctor had advised complete rest. In this rehearsed manner, the Kolkatan would duck work, files would stay stranded on desks, and the local economy would slacken.

This gent would turn up at the ground one hour before the match to watch the players at nets, be resplendent in some Rs 250 season-ticket concrete seat, feast on eggs and toast at lunch, abuse Gavaskar for getting out on zero, throw banana peels at the nearest fielder, pontificate on the geometry of a Viswanath (pronounced "Bisshonaath") square cut, order lebu lojenz (lime lozenges) at tea and torch his Anand Bazaar Patrika broadsheet before taking the bus home.

Our friend did not watch the India-West Indies Test this month. He explained the interrupted attendance record to an evening neighbourhood audience: "Prochoor kaajeyr chaanp" (Huge work pressure). He was lying. He had lost interest. Finally.

Considering that more than 50% of the tickets for the Test were free - distributed through the hosting association's supply chain of clubs as their privileged entitlement - the more worrying question is whether people like our friend have irreversibly lost interest in Test cricket. Has Kolkata gone through the largest mass conversion in history without a whisper?

The clue comes from an unexpected location - Kolkata's Maidan market, the Wal-Mart of all popular pirated sports jerseys in the city. One would have expected that most chest-wear in this junta-class market would be stamped "Sachin" or "Dhoni". Ah, surprise. The November winner of the most visible jersey on view was "Etihad", the sponsor of Manchester City. If this airline starts flights from Kolkata today, it wouldn't need an advertising budget; it is already the most popular airline in the city.

The big question: why has Kolkata moved on?

One, with lives accelerating, there is a growing preference for quicker pursuits. The one-time must-attend-every-cricket-match type flew from Kolkata to Delhi to be at the Formula 1, and was later treated for an insomnia-related disorder called "EPL-itis". But when the Test match came to Kolkata, he gave his prized club-house ticket to someone who gave it away to someone who gave it away to someone.

Two, the football spectacle has got grander as television screens have become larger, audio systems more sensitive and "high density" de riguer. When the camera comes in from the top-of-the-ground position and the crowd roars "Mehsee! Mehsee!", Kolkata's bar stools fill up, grandparents sidle into sofa corners and even the maidservant stands and watches en route to the dining table.

My friend Arvind, who runs Shisha, Kolkata's swinging nightclub, says that on nights when the bar licence allows him to serve liquor until 2am, the place stays full with people sipping their whatever and hollering at the giant TV screen. On the other hand, when two teams engaged in a Test match on November 14 - with the understanding that we would only know who won/lost on November 18, and the outside chance that it could well be neither - people at Arvind's place nibbled at their starters and, for a change, looked into each other's eyes.

Three, in an inflation-obsessed Kolkata, football is a cost-killer. One English willow will set you back Rs 12,000; an equivalent amount can fund one football and jerseys, shorts, shin pads and boots for 22 players. Watching a Test match can set you back a few thousands; a number of those who bought tickets for the 2008 Maradona exhibition match paid Rs 100 per head. Nearly 70,000 turned up to watch East Bengal play Mohun Bagan, paying down to Rs 40 a ticket.

Four, cricket continues to be snootily elitist in an informal Kolkata. It is surface-sensitive, requires patient rolling and watering for accident-free results. Football tolerates dust and slush (the more the better). A game of cricket on a turf wicket on a formal Kolkata ground costs Rs 5000; football is generally free, because after 9am most grounds are free for most people.

Five, the excellence of any sport is reflected in the intensity of its orgasm. In cricket, say, 30 years ago, the big thing was a batsman, tied down for overs, suddenly stepping out and lifting the spinner for a six. The Eden Gardens crowd would break into knowledgeable appreciation. "Ki jaajment!" (What judgement!) the Bengali would extol, nudging his son. Today, if 70% of the batsman's runs have not been derived from boundaries, he is dismissed as a plodder; five sixes in an innings is now the new cutoff for public recall (lasting four days). So when people say there has been a surfeit of cricket (which has been the running complaint for at least a decade), what they are really saying is: "The outstanding is now more commonplace than ever. We don't know how excellent excellence is any longer." In the absence of any index to rate a great innings different from a common one, people have drifted. Kolkata football has picked up the spillover.

Six, from the parochial perspective, Kolkata had probably given up on Test cricket years ago but had politely never let on, what with Sourav Ganguly still playing. Now that the Prince of Calcoota has retired and there is no Bengali interest left in international cricket, why bother whether Tendulkar gets his 100th century, or Laxman yet another Eden whopper, or whether India wraps up the match in four days.

Seven, the biggest blow has come from electronic surveillance. In the good old days, you could bank on someone at the office to sign you in ("Guru, aaj key baanchiye dibi", or "Boss, you must save me today'). Card-swiping has made attendance in most Kolkata offices fudge-proof. Besides, for the exec type, there is the ubiquitous "con-call". For the marketing rep there is the "target". For the slacker, there is the "pink slip". For the middle-level boxwallah, who does not respond to the email from the US client, there is always the Damocles at the weekly review meeting - "You didn't revert for a full 27 minutes".


Children play football in the rain at Kolkata's Maidan, June 12, 2010
Football: no frills, no fuss © AFP
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So is Test cricket's romance with Kolkata over? Yes and no.

Yes, the time when the BCCI could put out any second-rate side and expect the Eden Gardens queue would snake all the way to Esplanade is over. The worm has turned. After years of watching rubbish without complaint, the Kolkatan has finally said "no".

No, the Bengali will come back when better teams stop by in Kolkata (India versus Pakistan would draw 63,000 on the opening day), if he can buy tickets on the net or from malls, and if the Test begins on Thursday so he can squeeze in two weekend days to watch in person (as opposed to starting on Monday, as happened with this Test) without depleting his casual leaves.

If not, football will continue to give cricket a kick in the… forget it.

Once a professional cricket writer, Mudar Patherya is now a communications consultant. He lives his passion for the game through wicketkeeping. He also cleans lakes and plants bird boxes on trees

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by fanfromcanada on (November 30, 2011, 15:41 GMT)

an overdose of anything is bound to result in this. The spectator facilities were always terrible even in the past, but stadiums still filled up. This was because watching a live match was an event. Now live matches are a dime a dozen, and so that novelty has died. The EPL runs in a season followed by an off-season. If Man-City matches run throughout the year in one tournament after another, people will lose interest. The BCCI should be the protector of the game in India, but unfortunately it has taken all measures to kill it. I was in Australia earlier this year and went to the SCG/MCG and noticed that the organizers treat the spectators as "paid customers" and a sincere effort is put in making sure that the fans remain loyal to the game (clean facilities, ease of access, family friendliness, etc.). Nothing like this can be seen in India. In India, going to a game with family is a 7.00 am to 7.00 pm ordeal and not a fun experience. With more recreation options, fans will only be lost!

Posted by samya1980 on (November 30, 2011, 9:18 GMT)

mr patherya, u'v mentioned how kolkattans throw banana peel,judge visi's square cut or abuse gavs but u didnt how they roar nd bring charm bfor evry delivery,how they give standing ovation even to opponent.al sports grounds hav its own trait b it +ve or -ve,b it sydny,lords,barbadz or kol.journalism is NOT al abt negetivity.they simply ignore th test caz it ws agnst very dull unimprsiv wi who has nothing except a lara clone. dnt forgt dada was in d comntry box durin lst eng odi nd stii 45K ppl was there.

Posted by Rahulbose on (November 29, 2011, 21:43 GMT)

Well written article, but you seem to have a bloated ego about Kolkata fans. BCCI should just arrange test matches in places where people care to watch the game.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2011, 18:49 GMT)

I am a 30 year old from Kolkata, I work for a corporate house, let me share my experience here. There used to be one time (mid-90s to early 2000s) when I used to gorge upon test cricket at the Eden, but I have stopped now. The reasons are simple: a. There is simply too much of cricket now, and most of it of mediocre quality. So many ODIs, IPL, CLT......one series ends, and the very next day one sees TV channels promoting the next series. You dont remember any match after 2 days. There is a huge dilution of the value a cricket match used to have. Why should I waste a full day watching a match of reduced importance and quality?

b. Life has changed, priorities have changed, my need and definition of comfort have changed. I can no longer stand in a long queue to get the tickets, then sit on the uncomfortable seats, bear the sun all day long, use the horrible toilets and hunt for drinking water.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2011, 17:58 GMT)

Really disappointed that a superb journalist like Mudar (now ex) could pen such a superficial piece. Or may be he was being deliberately tongue in cheek!

Posted by mustufa on (November 29, 2011, 16:05 GMT)

India wants their crowd back, forget IPL, start playing Pakistan.

Posted by rnarayan on (November 29, 2011, 6:55 GMT)

Very nicely written, but most of the arguments dont hold. cricket is no more expensive now than it used to be. Calcuttans have always been parochial, but still enjoyed their cricket..I've been at a packed Eden to watch India play a poor Windies side in 1978, for example. The major factor is that times have changed. Work takes priority. Once upon a time a Test match was an Event, and bosses understood if you took time off to watch, as mostly he'd be there too. Now International cricket is mundane, the pace of life is less forgiving, and targets and deadlines wont wait for Sachin's hundredth 100.

Posted by shailbuch on (November 29, 2011, 6:40 GMT)

Prithu Gupta... You are spot on... Very very well said...

Posted by Percy_Fender on (November 29, 2011, 5:33 GMT)

I fully agree with the views of GhostofJardine. Calcutta as it was, was always strongly parochial for all its collective pride in its Raj background. And now because Saurav is no longer playing cricket is no longer interesting. For spectators,he cost of tickets being high is definitely an inhibiting factor, apart from of course the daunting prospect of reaching the Eden Gardens for the game. Then again good ole Probir Mukherjee lays down those sleeping beauties which causes everyone watching also to fall asleep.That is why cricket is not watched as much now. In my view all this latter day love for F1 will not survive because that is not real Calcutta. But Messi must. That is integral to Kolkotta's culture. But bring in a Test Championship and you will see where the Eden Gardens scores over the MCG.Something that the true Kolkottan will speak so proudly about.cricket itself will not be so relevant.

Posted by shrikanthk on (November 29, 2011, 3:13 GMT)

Interesting piece. Point Five bothers me. "The excellence of any sport lies in the intensity of its orgasm" :I don't think cricket can hope to compete with Football or Tennis if it chooses to make "orgasmic intensity" its USP! Cricket is different. A fundamentally slower sport with protracted rhythms which cannot change character simply by reducing the number of overs! For Cricket to survive the 21st century, it has to stick to its core strengths instead of attempting to ape faster, less cerebral sports like Football or Tennis.

Today, we are bemoaning the Kolkatan's loss of interest in Test cricket. It's only a matter of time before the Kolkatan loses interest in DLF fours and Samsung super sixes of the T20 variety

It's time to get back to basics. Make TV coverage more understated instead of unceasingly celebrating "moments" with sponsored packages. Cricket (be it of any variety) cannot survive for too long if the attention spans of its fans continue to drop.

Posted by redneck on (November 29, 2011, 1:09 GMT)

reading the local indians comments, going to the cricket sounds like an inconvience and complete chor. feel for you guys. in aus i could buy my boxing day ticket in july over the internet. given all the IT support india gives the rest of the world surely this could be done through the bcci website. as for dirty unhyginic facilities, this is the richest board in the world! there should be no reason not to bring grounds into the 21st century. complete admin incompetence by the sounds of it. how can you go to a cricket match in the heat and not have fresh water available and toilet blocks that arent overflowing with sewage??? disgusting! cricket tourism is picking up for india. in the 80s/90s there is no way australians, english etc would contemplate travelling to india where as now its one of the must do tours. this is not a good advertisement for india the country either! bcci stop treating your public with disrespect, you take their loyalty for granted and dont deserve what you have!

Posted by   on (November 29, 2011, 0:34 GMT)

I do not know much about Calcutta except that it's 'city' limit is also pretty small like Chennai's, where offices have all moved to the suburbs and the cricket ground stands in it's renovated glory in the heart of the city. Is this disconnect a factor in test match attendance too???

Posted by GhostOfJardine on (November 28, 2011, 20:27 GMT)

An exemplary piece of tripe, the sort that dominates sports writing these days. There are two hackneyed formulas - say nothing, and say everything. This article adopts the latter approach. It is a compendium of every theory that has been bandied about to explain why the famous Eden Gardens crowd suddenly did a Cheshire cat. It even repeats the same points (see 3 and 4, both about cost) and stitches together contradictory explanations. Kolkata is too parochial to watch cricket after Dada, but at the same time, even the maid servant digs Messi. The babu's newfound desire for quick thrills has turned him off cricket. So has too many sixes and fast scoring. Kolkata is not economically stagnant any more - people have real jobs. Kolkattans can no longer afford a cricket bat or a test ticket. The task of a real writer is to avoid a laundry list, choose one ortwo probable factors, and convincingly argue in their favour. This is a sophomoric exercise.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 20:24 GMT)

The article is a nice read, but doesn't make sense at times. "Electronic surveillance" is one of the reasons? Really? Plain ridiculous, that point.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 20:06 GMT)

Bring back Dada? No, bring back Mudar. What a piece, what a piece! This is what cricket writing used to be once.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 19:33 GMT)

Nicely written . The recently concluded series was in my mind the worst advertisement for Test Cricket which will compound the problem even more .

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (November 28, 2011, 19:22 GMT)

Wow, thoroughly enjoyed the narration! Must be the case.

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

Engaging and mostly true article. It is not only the interest in people or the quality of the game that matters but also the way you sell it matters.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 17:59 GMT)

bring back DADA and the crowds will follow him

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 17:49 GMT)

I agree with everything that you said in the article except for one that kolkatians won't bother themselves with sachin's 100th ton..I feel Sachin and cricket is something that binds India together beyond all differences of language or region n m sure even they muss have prayed for his 100th ton whenever he walked the field during this series.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 17:42 GMT)

This shows lack of common sense on part of the cricket administrators in India. In England, Australia or even South Africa test start on Thursdays with the exception of the Boxing day and the New Year test match. When a test starts on a Monday who will bother to go to the ground leaving all important work . Only very recently the grounds in India have become spectator friendly with box seats , roof and other amenities , otherwise people had to sit all day long on concrete without shade and drinking water. So it is on the part of the BCCI to show common sense and professionalism to draw back crowds to the grounds.

Posted by Harvey on (November 28, 2011, 17:10 GMT)

It's not just Test cricket. Attendances were not great for the ODI series against England, either. Even many KKR matches in the last IPL were not very well attended. If we took the West Indies Test in isolation, I wouldn't be particularly worried, since even on their last tour of England (where Test cricket is still no.1), attendances to watch WI were terrible - worse than for the visit of Bangladesh - and I suspect they will be worse next year. The truth is that WI are a poor side, and not many people are going to pay good money to watch them, especially on a working day. The problem is that the standard of cricket generally is not what it was ten years ago. Nearly all the greats are getting close to retiring, the rest have already gone, and have not been replaced by upcoming stars, who presumably get distracted by the easy money of T20. There's too much cricket, and most of it is of a mediocre standard. There's also the spectre of match fixing. Not good times to be a cricket fan.

Posted by praghunathan on (November 28, 2011, 16:30 GMT)

Wonderful writing...haven't read an article like this in years.

Posted by zico123 on (November 28, 2011, 16:27 GMT)

whole of India including Kolkata still love international cricket ODIs and Test matches, just that IPL is causing cricket overkill, if we can get rid of hugely long 7 week IPL or atleast limit it to a 2 week event, then international cricket will reach its boom again

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 15:53 GMT)

lovely flowing ,understated witty prose on a current and apt subject..gr8 piece mudar!you are one of the best!

Posted by rohitkossery on (November 28, 2011, 14:52 GMT)

The reason for low attendance isn't down to a single reason, but a mixture of reasons. And one main reason is television and internet. I have watched cricket in stadiums in South Africa during the 2003 World Cup. I am a fan of test matches, but as a professional, I can't go to a stadium 5 days a week to watch cricket. It is simply not worth it when I can watch it on TV (on weekends) or check scores online at work without risking my boss's wrath.

But more importantly, it is a factor of comfort for me. The stadiums in India are hot and dirty, the tickets can be overpriced, getting in is a hassle and in the end, the viewing is still not as great as from a large LCD flatscreen. So the only reason to really go is the ambience, but when I know hat the match isn't a real crowd puller, like India-Pak, or a world cup match, I just can't see the point of suffering so much to watch it in a stadium that I know will be empty, when i can follow it in the full comfort of my home.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 14:43 GMT)

Most of the words in the article are true. Its the over kill of cricket and growing popularity of international football leagues have lead to the loss of popularity in cricket. These days i prefer watching an epl match rather than a cricket match played by india !

Posted by Ranji72 on (November 28, 2011, 14:23 GMT)

Mudar Patherya, welcome back to active cricket writing!! Used enjoy u on Sportsworld all those years back...still remember reading u on the 83 Windies series. U sure haven't lost ur touch!!

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 14:06 GMT)

it's probably people in general have lost interest in sports, as other engagements like office are in focus these days. since i've watched f1 in delhi and test at eden (also the odi at eden on oct 25 vs england), without 'bunking' office, i don't think not many have left sports in them. sad, youngsters take out time to meet partners in nightclubs or even to stupid malls, but they hardly think it's worth watching a cricket or football match. i was also fortunate to watch the great messi match in kolkata in sept, but there also typical 'soccer craze' was missing that we witness during MB-EB ties at the same salt lake stadium. these days, u can hardly see an exec putting off his suit at the maidan just before the green-maroon brigade take on its archrivals, and keep it safe in his office bag. i've seen people doing FB at eden even as the cherry goes off vvs smoothly to the mid-on ropes! such was the scene at BIC also where people were busy BBMing while massa & hamilton racing up!!

Posted by tamratanu on (November 28, 2011, 13:31 GMT)

Dwindling crowd in test matches has been a global phenomenon; the attendance in Kolkata test was no exception. Long duration of play (maximum of 30 hours), slowness, lack of excitement, chances of a boring draw, popularity of limited versions of the game etc. are the main reasons for the moribund state of test cricket. You have belabored your point to show football as the competitor of cricket in Kolkata, but it has never been the case, as cricket always has its niche crowd. Ganguly was not a factor at all, as the Eden Gardens had registered huge crowd when there was no Bengali player in the team in the past. Despite all these factors, I understand, people expect more from Kolkata. But falling of the test match on all working days, overdose of cricket and a very ordinary opposition turned away even the most fanatic cricket spectators.

Posted by agupta429 on (November 28, 2011, 13:05 GMT)

Kolkata, The home of the most patriotically loyal crowd in India. They are angry because BCCI and Bengal Cricket Board have robbed them of a HOME World Cup match in the year India won the Cup.

Poor guys never had a say in it.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 12:51 GMT)

I applied for tickets for the one day games in Mumbai and Kolkotta by email recently. I had a very useful response from Mumbai the same day. Eden Gardens never replied. I used the addresses on the BCCI site. say no more...

Posted by AJ_Tiger86 on (November 28, 2011, 12:50 GMT)

One of the best articles ever about the state of Indian cricket! It's spot on. I have quite a few Indian friends, and all of them are crazy about Premier League football. They hardly ever care about the cricket. When I asked them about it, they said in all the Indian cities, Premier League and European football is FAR more popular than cricket -- especially among people aged below 30. Cricket is popular only in the rural areas. I think the trend is clear. Football has already overtaken cricket in the big cities. In 10-15 year's time, cricket will be a minority sport in India dominated by football.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 12:43 GMT)

Need to have some gaps between the series.. Why would the common man go and watch each and every match when he knows that there will be another match at the same venue after just a couple of months.. For eg: Now-a-days, with so much of cricket, i am sure Eden Gardens alone must have had atleast 10 matches in the last year incld the IPL, CLT20, World Cups, Test matches and series v/s England.. I am sure previously ppl had to wait for atleast a couple of years to watch the match in the same stadium...

Posted by Praxis on (November 28, 2011, 12:18 GMT)

I am regularly ridiculed by my friends & colleagues because I follow test cricket, they find it boring, even one day matches too. Nobody takes T20 seriously here. I live in Dhaka & trust me when I tell you the popularity of this game here is nowhere near what it is in India, Pakistan or Sri Lanka. We like the festivity or the fun. Test cricket is dead, very few people I know follow the game, or even check the scores online.

Posted by AnyoneButVettel on (November 28, 2011, 12:11 GMT)

To all those people saying Sourav is the reason for low attendance - I'm sorry but that's not the right attitude. I'm from Hyderabad and I'd still attend Test matches if VVS Laxman didn't play. At least you people can hope for Manoj Tiwary to become a big star in future, for us there's nobody to look forward to ... heck we're playing in the Ranji Plate league. Does that mean we discard Test (all) cricket once Laxman retires? I admit there's nothing like watching one of our own make it big, but all 11 of them are playing for India and we should support them all. Regional preferences wouldn't help.

Posted by jeetandra on (November 28, 2011, 11:17 GMT)

away from the pavillion . iwas disappointed since i wanted to watch closely my heroes coming out of the oavillion . whe n i took my seat inside the seats were absolutely filthy..not apppeared to washed since the ipl match i suppose. to my horror ...east stand and the north and the south stands were lying empty and the westtand from where you can have a pathetic 90 degrees veiwing experience were only filled up because the clerk at the bank was mindlessly giving ticets for 100 each to everyone..i am the customer i have a right to choose and pay from where i should watch the match, i was denied and to my horror they were also lying empty i dont know waiting for whom...plus the cold drinks and other stuff inside the stadium was highly overpriced and low in quality ...it would have been a hooror experience to watch cricket for whole day..wheresentertainment...so plz care about the amenities for the people in the stadium and not treat them like unwanted security hazards.dont cheat fans pl

Posted by jeetandra on (November 28, 2011, 11:07 GMT)

i am a guy from a small town jhansi, moved to delhi for a job in mnc. My childhood dream heroes were playing here,whom i used to watch on tv and used to think the people sitting in the stadium watching cricket matches , in big metro cities must have been the divine ones.so i was eying this test match from a long time , since the matces were not held due to pitch fiasco ...so the time came. i looked all over internet for tickets hardly i could find something encouraging then , thought will go buy as time allows from the stadium itself ,since it was mentioned that stadium has a ticket counter.when i arrived there i was told bank of maharashtra was distributing tickets , there was though a branch nearby ..i ran and huffed and puffed..now listen there was a queue bank people were distributing the tickets 100 each, when i asked them i need ticket for north and south stands, iasked for 200 rs ticket they said its not been published i was handed over a ticket for far west end away from the ..

Posted by spiritwithin on (November 28, 2011, 10:59 GMT)

just wow,must say its one of the best cricket article i have read here...one of the main reason y there r less attendance in test matches is that nowadays atleast in india ppl hardly gets enough time to watch cricket by skipping his work for which he mayget scolded harshly by his boss,secondly test is a 5day game,i wont waste my five precious day for a test cricket though i check the scorecard time to time,even in IPL the same fan wont return more than twice for any game...their were less attendance even in odi b/w ind-eng series which was billed as a revenge series that wud have been enough to attract many fans but still many skipped..time is changing and indian fans r now having many options to choose from,low cable tv cost means millions r getting access to F-1,High quality football league like EPL,La Liga etc add to that BCCI's arrogant attitude who does'nt even care for fans and provides them substandard stuffs in the stadium and the result is there for everybody.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 10:42 GMT)

The biggest reason why crowds have stopped watching test cricket live is the change in the profile of the spectator. A day of cricket in the 1970s and 80s would see 180 - 200 runs in 90 overs of slow play unfolding like a Satyajit Ray magnum opus. Todays fickle and faddish fan has no patience to watch such drama. This trend was visible in the early 1990s when fans would expect fours and sixes in each over. Dont agree with the parochial bit. The bengali has been the least parochial and clannish community in post independence India and has rather cheered cricketers from all over. One reason for the poor attendance in the last match was the fact that the match was played over the week inside of over the weekend.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 10:23 GMT)

Barring the entire article, I would agree simply with the last paragraph.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 9:43 GMT)

well the problem is not only test cricket if we see the odi and t20 matche also saw low crowds i think problem is with the prices i saw prices on net and they were too much and when mumbai cut prices matches had some spice the crowds were there i think marequee clashes will see crowds back but cities like nagpur and mohali who dont get crowds should be kept only too t20 and odi cricket

Posted by SamRoy on (November 28, 2011, 9:00 GMT)

I still wonder why people are making a hoopla of low crowd attendance on a Monday to Friday test against a second rate team? The more worrying factor was the abysmal crowd attendance in Wanderers for that gripping test match between two pretty strong teams.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 8:51 GMT)

1. Improve facilities and the crowds will follow. Currently the facilities offered to spectators in cricket stadiums in India are pathetic. Bad Toilets, Dirty Seating, Unhygenic Food & Water, No Safe Parking Plan, No Fans, No TVs etc... to name a few... I am talking through experience.

2. Tickets are sold very arbitrarily. Very Few Announcements. That too a week or two before the match. Sometimes even the stadiums dont sell them. And they call this the information age. Match in Chennai on 11th. No announcement till date. Abroad tickets are sold a year in advance and that too through the internet.

3. Ticket pricing ridiculous.

4. Stop Complimentaries. No cricket stadium in the world gives free tickets even to members.

5. Timing of Matches. Avoid School & College Exam Days. Ensure a Test Match covers both days of the Weekend. Eden Match began on Monday. Crazy!!!

Well! I hope somebody is reading all this feedback.

Posted by naijonam on (November 28, 2011, 8:14 GMT)

As i am a Delhivites Let me add my experience in delhi test match. I was keen to buy tickets but couldnt get any information on net or through newspaper where are they selling tickets. I went all through to Firozshah kotla. I need to go pavilion there they told me some notuce is there on the Outside wall where they are selling it. I found a 3"x3" newpaper cutting (that also looks comes in a local newpaper) on a wall. Their I came to know tickets are selling through Bank Of maharashtra. Which have only 5 branches all over in Delhi. Luckily one of it near to my home. So i wasted 3 hours and 50 km drive just to know about the information. My point is that DDCA never keen to fill the stand. Same was in the last One dayers. I couldnt get the tickets that day also. Question is that when they organising such a Big Event why not they are advertising it well. Same time tickets can be sold through various counters They shall sell season ticket for only remaining days of the match.....

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 8:08 GMT)

A grand theatre like Eden Gardens deserves the more marquee clashes. An India Australia, South Africa, Pakistan or England would see full houses on all days. Further, the scheduling of test matches should be done with a bit more brains by the BCCI. A test match starting on Monday and ending on Friday is as stupid as the rain rule in the 1992 WC. The BCCI should ensure that test matches start on Thursday so that the 3rd and the fourth day fall in the weekend. Test matches with the West Indies, Sri Lanka etc should be alloted at the lesser venues. This way we can ensure crowds at every venue. Kolkata, Bangalore, Mumbai, Mohali, Delhi, Kanpur and Chennai should be regarded as the pre eminent Test venues. The wickets at these centres have traditionally been the most condusive to competitive test match cricket. It is indeed sad that a centre like Kanpur gets so few test matches.

Posted by kingcobra85 on (November 28, 2011, 7:58 GMT)

Even in the south I live in TN kerala border...they hotels are jam packed on BPL nights. If Arsenal are playing there is no hope for a seat unless you book early...Football is taking over the cricket neglected parts of India and i love it

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 7:38 GMT)

i havent read the whole thing but for me start india pakistan series in india it will be houseful.... same will be the result in pak.. the cricket boards should open gates for the cricketers on both sides and i can assure you even in test matches watching crowds in both countries will be a sight to watch. The thing that can save test cricket is Indo-Pak test series and it should happen after each 2 years like ashes :) i hope people agree with men

Posted by Gizza on (November 28, 2011, 7:30 GMT)

Many countries in the world follow more than one sport. Just because one sport becomes popular shouldn't mean another become unpopular. There are at least 6 strongly watched spectators sports in Australia: Cricket, Tennis, Aussie Rules/AFL, Rugby League, Rugby Union and Soccer/Football. There are others too shown at less frequent times like swimming and horse racing.Even India has had no problem accommodating Hockey and Kabaddi with Cricket. The main problem this year was the double World Cup/IPL effect. So many games. So much cricket in the grounds. So much cricket on TV. Cricket, cricket, cricket. It is like eating the exact same food for dinner 20 times in a row. You get sick of it. At least India won't host the World Cup for another 8-12 years and by then maybe the IPL will have died. So this double feast of cricket should never occur again.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 7:29 GMT)

Lets face it in kolkata Football>> cricket and Messi >>> Sachin and 1 assist for a goal by messi >>> 100th ton by sachin if it were not for sourav ganguly eden would have been deserted long time ago and bcci treating kolkata as a 2nd grade choice of venue meant that test cricket is bound to suffer

btw the security checks, overpriced tickets, lack of facilities and overpricing of food products have kiiled interest in tests

with regards a former test fan

Posted by RajivNaik on (November 28, 2011, 7:29 GMT)

Absolutely brilliant article. This is the most perceptive and spot-on article I have read on what could be the cause for the decline in crowd attendance at test matches.

I think though that there is one more important factor at work here: in the name of security, most venues don't allow viewers to bring their own food and water/ drinks, though the real reason for this is to boost sales at the stadium counters. After all, if you don't allow any food/ water inside, I will be forced to shell out whatever is being charged for a bottle of water. A rich board like BCCI really does not need to stoop to that level to make more money; leave that trick to the malls and multiplexes. Quite apart from the irritation of having to pay for something I don't really want to buy, is also the fact that the joy of eating one's own food while watching cricket is now lost.

Posted by CricketIndiaFanatic on (November 28, 2011, 7:08 GMT)

No world cup match, tickets for the elites during important matches, arrogant CAB and BCCI officials, feud between BCCI and CAB, ticketing blunder(seats reduced and charges increased), hardships for getting a tickets(you can be lathicharged mind you), fleecing by vendors inside the stadium, - are the real cause. I know that author will not mention these due to diplomacy. We understand. Good for the game if these events can put some sense in the officials running the game. You cannot milch the cow without feeding it something.

Posted by aviroop1911 on (November 28, 2011, 7:04 GMT)

@NevadaSmith Crowds will hardly come to watch Test Matches in centres like Cuttack and Pune. It is really very frustrating to see India and Australia face each other in front of 100-200 spectators in Nagpur and Mohali.But still Nagpur gets a high-profile Test match every now and then thanks to the BCCI president. I watched the 2010 Nagpur Test against SA and there were 2 people watching the match (including me), the other guy was the GREAT SACHIN FAN with the tri-colour painted all over him. Remember the Test match played at Mohali in Oct 2010 which India won by 1 wicket thanks to VVS? That great match was played in front of a few hundred spectators. I was there and the sort of behaviour I got from the volunteers and security was so pathetic that I vowed never to go there again. In contrast the Test match played at the Eden Gardens against SA which India had to win to hold on to their No.1 ranking was played at the Eden Gardens before a packed house on each and every day.

Posted by pt333 on (November 28, 2011, 6:56 GMT)

Reasons crop up when interest does not - but time and and again test cricket displays enough to tilt your patience towards its charm even though I prefer highlights :)

Posted by Percy_Fender on (November 28, 2011, 6:32 GMT)

I feel that this business of alotting Test matches on rotation basis should stop because it could well be that there is a loss of interest in cricket itself in centres like Kolkotta. In the south the crowds still come.Other centres not given Tests in the past should be alotted matches. Centres like Cuttack Pune and Baroda might make the difference. Prices of tickets should be reduced like they did in Mumbai and the matches should start on Fridays. In that case if a match is interestingly poised over the wekend, the other days will also have good attendance. Apart from these administrative steps, there should be other side offerings which will make it exciting for the spectators.I am sure marketing experts with a modicum of cricket sense can come up with imaginative schemes.Kolkotta can be considered again only when there is a Test championship in India. Not before. They can live with the F1 and football in the interim.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 6:32 GMT)

What a insightful piece of work. Every details is so perfect that Kolkatan spectators of cricket then and now, can be witnessed here within. Need more from you sir, on Cricket.

Posted by aviroop1911 on (November 28, 2011, 6:27 GMT)

How things have changed.We used to start counting the days 3 months before a Test Match.We used to boast how we got hold of a prized Test match ticket because of a 'very very close inside connection' and how our friends used to envy us.The queue for daily tickets used to start from the MSC tent and end near Dharamtala.I wonder what the class 8th,9th,10th students and College guys do nowadays when there is an international match going on at the Eden Gardens!!! I guess a lot of this is due to the SOFTWARE BUG. They are willing to pay Rs 800 for an IPL ticket but not Rs 100 for a Test Match. You will rarely see anyone in the age group of 0-40 at the ground nowadays.The Software Techie will be busy sipping a Rs 135 coffee in the CCD taking a "con-call" on his iPhone or watching Ra1 in the Multiplex paying Rs 200 for the ticket and Rs 75 for a packet of popcorn.And on top of everything, there were no the Players Tickets this time. It seems that CAB doesn't care if there are empty seats.

Posted by bobagorof on (November 28, 2011, 6:22 GMT)

I think point 5 is apt, and a product of the push by Twenty20 for flat tracks and 'excitement'. I remember mentioning it some time ago, actually. Without getting into a debate over Twenty20, it seems fairly obvious that when the public has been told that boundaries and sixes are the measure of excitement, and one format has been produced specifically to maximize the number of each in an over, then a more sedate format where boundaries and sixes are rare would hence be seen as 'dull' - never mind the artistry that comes in crafting a century in difficult conditions. It's a case of over-indulgence robbing meaning from what was once a special occurrence.

Posted by sbbioman74 on (November 28, 2011, 6:20 GMT)

very nice article.the biggest problem with the latest test match was the opponent. kolkatans did not have too much expectation from the windies. also, eden gardens were denied lots of good cricket matches: during 2011 world cup, during any series (one useless odi or so) and a rare test match against a good opponent. so,people felt betrayed. there were important test matches given to lots of junk stadiums where people don't turn up for even the last moments of an indian win! yes, as mentioned football popularity plays an important part. but, that was always there without harming cricket popularity. watching test cricket is a habit. best example is chennai which produces great matches invariably; and chennai gets test matches constantly. if same were true for eden gardens, the latest would not have happened. believe me, a test match with a good opponent with definitely be a sell out if those types of matches are given frequently. bcci, treat eden with respect. P.S. i am not a bengali.

Posted by redneck on (November 28, 2011, 6:09 GMT)

i dont get how the epl played all the way in england and only shown on tv in india can have an effect???? india arent even good at soccer???? wheres the appeal??? is there a indian playing in the epl or something???? i would understand the last point, surely any boss would be wise to a test being on in town and workers absent would be suspect. i want to see india hosting pakistan at edan gardens. that would be a true indicator of whether kolkata has lost interest or if it was the ever battling west indies that turned people off??? it was packed for the test vs south africa in 2010 so surely it cant be no interest thats doing it???

Posted by wambling_future on (November 28, 2011, 6:06 GMT)

BCCI seriously needs to pay attention on two very important factors: Price and schedule. Both of which is ridiculous right now. If they can apply a little bit of common sense, which is though rare, but if they try, it shouldn't take much of brain work to get things right. Outrageous prices and test matches starting on Monday..phew.. it's a killer combination.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 6:06 GMT)

I think watching cricket is just a wastage of time.......... Soccer is more enjoyable...... Thats the main reason..........

Posted by tick on (November 28, 2011, 6:03 GMT)

No, the Bengali will come back when better teams stop by in Kolkata (India versus Pakistan would draw 63,000 on the opening day), enough said..can india fulfill its FTP commitment..pak vs india in march april...??

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 5:28 GMT)

It is totally Sourav factor. After he retired no other player from Bengal has made their way to the team. If the team had at least one big gun from Bengal, obviously Kolkatans would be enthusiastic and come to watch test.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 5:28 GMT)

It is totally Sourav factor. After he retired no other player from Bengal has made their way to the team. If the team had at least one big gun from Bengal, obviously Kolkatans would be enthusiastic and come to watch test.

Posted by Vishal_07 on (November 28, 2011, 5:00 GMT)

this article makes no sense. Most of the reasons given are no reason at all. Mainly, it was because the match started on a Monday. How can anybody be expected to be at the Test on a weekday.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 4:14 GMT)

The Ganguly issue would be way up the order as a matter of fact.The way in which the cricket community dumped him even when pune and kochi wanted him as their key player.Statistics can be viewed and you will know that till Ganguly played any form of cricket, the stadium of Kolkata was full for any match.But once the ipl auctions were over, there were serious protests about the way Ganguly was treated Be it a fan or not,most have felt he should have been given the chance to play for any team.I am his die hard fan and it literally broke me to know that he was stopped by other teams so that he has to quit his career in such fashion.Ive lost interest in cricket and now just reading scores and results and do not have the old craziness.The current generation has moved on for sure and for kolkata to relive its past glorious days,it needs the next generation of youngsters to come up for sure.Otherwise Ganguly himself have to urge people2come and watch cricket and im sure it will yield gud rslt

Posted by SouthPaw on (November 28, 2011, 3:33 GMT)

Try starting a test match on Thursday or Friday (instead of Monday as they did) and you might have better crowds. Today they are not starved of cricket, they have an overdose, so even work is better than cricket.

Posted by 5why on (November 28, 2011, 3:23 GMT)

The Calcuttan has seen real good quality cricket for such a long time that the type of Test cricket presented to him nowadays does not appeal to him any more. The silken cover drive of a Saurav cannot be replaced by a Virat Kohli pull. Or the rhythmic run up of a Kapil is not quite the same as a Yadav.

Bring the real cricketers, playing the orthodox cricketing shots. But bring only the best that is on offer. Eden Gardens will be full once again!

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