March 29, 2013

Cricket can't afford to be snobbish about its followers

Those who are interested in runs and wickets, winning and losing and nothing else in between need to be embraced if cricket is to survive and thrive
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Test cricket has laid out for us a three-day result and a thrilling five-day draw. In recent times we have had spirited back-to-the-wall displays, a match-winning innings with a broken finger, a side ranked No. 8 competing on level terms with No. 2, extremely fast swing bowling as good as any in the history of the game. And we had all this last year and the year before.

Indeed, most years we get a series to remember. Yes, we also saw two sides that couldn't cope with conditions in each other's land, and subcontinent teams continued to be sitting ducks in overseas conditions - which we have seen on an annual basis. Test cricket didn't change a lot, yet continued to enthral. Sometimes status quo is not a bad thing.

For a major part of its 136 years, Test cricket has been unchallenged. One-day cricket, even with its extremely stuttering start, has existed for less than a third of that time. Now a new generation challenges it. The issue is not with the inherent strength of the format but with its relevance to a new group of viewers. Already half of India is under 25, with vastly different expectations and preferences than fans of a previous era. However, the commentators and writers who talk to them about the game, have grown up in an era where Test cricket was not only glorious, but was also in a monopoly. Traditionally cricket communicators have reached out to their own, to those who understand the game as much, follow it with the same intensity, and know that Nathan Lyon faced more deliveries than Shane Watson in the series just finished.

About a month ago I was part of a presentation made by a television channel on the audience for cricket. There was some serious number crunching and some uncomfortable results. Traditionally sport has looked down at number crunchers, but the reality is that they give sport the financial sustenance it needs. They understand the following for sport better than anyone else, and here they were sending out some warning signals.

Only a tiny percentage of viewers, they said, has ever been inside a cricket ground. The majority doesn't know what it looks like, has no idea of what "moving long leg a touch finer" means in relation to its position on a cricket ground, may not even know where backward short leg is. They certainly don't understand Duckworth-Lewis, and are quite baffled by the lbw law. While they might follow scores, they watch the game for much less than half an hour at a time; not a large number understand English; and there are more and more female viewers who are only just getting interested in cricket.

As you can imagine, the intricacies of a day-four pitch don't interest them. They understand action and that is what they follow. They know runs and they know wickets (and they understand India winning and losing). Reaching out to them is among the big challenges for those who have a stake in cricket. If you keep pushing only Test cricket down their throats, they are going to go away. But we can't let them go because cricket needs them. These are the people who enjoy T20 cricket, spend money and time on it. Cricket must cater to them too. We cannot have a disconnect between those who propagate cricket and those who, increasingly, follow it. We cannot become snobbish and imperil the game.

Many years ago I had suggested that cricket would become a bouquet of offerings, a bit like an automobile company with products at different price points. Test cricket would be the top-of-the-line model, while T20 would, like the small car, bring in the numbers and the profits. And nothing has changed since. What I am concerned by is the refusal of many, let us say the equivalent of those who drive Mercedeses or BMWs, to acknowledge the role that the driver of an Alto plays. I keep hearing of how we need to curb T20 for the future of Test cricket; that is like thrusting what we want to see on to people who are interested in something else.

Just like a small car is the entry point for a long-term car user, so too is T20 cricket increasingly going to become the entry point for potential cricket lovers. If they like what they see, they might stay on and increase the population of Test-cricket enthusiasts. And that is why it is dangerous that so many Test-cricket lovers seem to think that you need to belong to one camp or the other, that you must look down on this new kid on the block. But the future lies in embracing everyone, because cricket's existence depends on it. People respect Test cricket, but the largest number follow limited-overs cricket; it is like respecting Bade Ghulam Ali Khan but listening to Kishore Kumar. Cricket needs to understand that and that understanding needs to reflect in the way it reaches out to people, in the way it communicates to them.

Meanwhile, I am quite happy to be a fan of each of the three formats. And so, having enjoyed the Tests against England and Australia, I am going to now enjoy the IPL.

Harsha Bhogle is a television presenter and writer, and a commentator on IPL 2013. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • arvind.panchal on March 29, 2013, 18:44 GMT

    It is important that the broadcasters educate their viewers. Instead of cliched commentaries if you can have experts speaks about the details of the Test cricket, I am sure anybody would follow. Cricket is not as complicated as it is made. Those who play this game in India and understand its intricacies are certainly not the most smart people of the society. They understand when a playing a maiden is a great achievement and so on... So not just cricket needs multiple 'products' (I hate this term by the way) but its broadcasters need to educate the viewers. But it should not be that just because mass of the audience only understand whether India won or lost so we should start forcing results at the cost of cricket itself. Complex numbers in maths are difficult and not most people dont understand them but it does not mean that we stop using them.

    There are things which cannot be decided based on just democratic viewpoint and market forces -- Cricket is certainly one of those.

  • digvijay_5885 on March 29, 2013, 4:54 GMT

    I am a big fan of yours harsha. Still remember that Ind-Aus series of 2002-03 and not only because of Dravid, Laxman and (that unlikely hero) Agarkar's performance but also becuase of some Excellent Commentary/discussions that involved you, Sunny and Ravi. And when i compare that series with the just finished one, i dont feel the same level of excitement or satisfaction. And i think the only reason could be the kind of Commentary that was on offer, becuase the onfield performances were still pretty decent.

    Throughout the series the commentary was Restrained. It was actually catering to an audience who as you said doesnt understand 'moving long leg a touch finer' and that was disappointing. If 'someone' does not understand the intricacies of the game, it doesnt mean you stop analysing those complexities. Infact you should continue to do so because only then that 'someone' will make an effort to understand.

  • Yuji9 on April 1, 2013, 5:49 GMT

    Rugby 7's is separate from 15 a side so why can't T20 have its own separate full time competition with sloggers and all-rounders watched full time by fans with short attention spans? Why do we have to embrace all 3 forms? Why do our cricketers need to play all 3 forms when the skills demand almost the opposite mind sets? We cannot produce quality Test cricketers when they play nothing but T20's at school, Grade and First Class levels. At the U19 World Cup last year, the batting techniques were drastically less to those of years past. The rot has begun. T20 can never produce a Shane Warne for example as the format doesn't allow it. If Warne played only T20 in Grade and State level we may never have even seen him in Tests. Now we get Maxwell. Everywhere from domestic to grade to school level matches are shrinking to T20 and thus Test techniques are slipping. T20 must produce its own players full time and leave the rest alone. We need to be able to choose T20 or reject. We can't co-exist!

  • jay57870 on March 31, 2013, 13:09 GMT

    Harsha's car analogy is spot on. The great auto pioneer Alfred Sloan famously declared: "A Car for Every Purse and Purpose"! It works so well in the car marketplace! Likewise cricket offers a "portfolio" of products & services: Tests, ODIs & T20s cater to different segments of the market. The "purpose" of IPL is different from Tests. The paying audience is different, more families than sophisticated Test fans. Let's face it: Cricket is an entertainment business. Like it or not, IPL is a money-making show-piece. BCCI spreads revenues to all corners of the nation. Realistically it's an industry (like cars). The multiplier effect in the economy spreads from franchisee locations (stadiums, hotels, transport) to remote audiences (TV, Internet, mobile) to sports-goods manufacturing (Meerut, Jalandhar) to construction (facilities, academies) & to exports. The Aam Aadmi is positively impacted! Much as I like Tests, I've come to enjoy T20s & ODIs too. It's genre-changing! Yes to IPL, Harsha!!

  • jay57870 on March 31, 2013, 12:44 GMT

    Harsha - Spot on! I grew up faithfully with Test cricket. It was the "only game in town" - not football nor hockey for me. A Test match ticket was worth the price & wait, even if India were losing. Strangely, it was also the era of the dreaded License Raj - Ambassador, Fiat 1100 & Standard Herald! Take it or leave it! Demand exceeded supply (50000 p.a.). Fast forward to the modern era: Things have definitely changed for the better with the 1991 reforms. The marketplace is thriving with better choices (15+ makes) & quality. Supply exceeds demand (3 million p.a.). No more 7-year waits for the Ambassador! Yes, the vast "portfolio" of products & services caters to different customer preferences & needs - from high-end luxury cars to small affordable cars - nationwide. That's real competition: A seismic shift from the License Raj! Alongside these economic reforms & globalisation, Indian cricket too has changed dramatically - with the power-centre shift to India & the rise of ODIs & T20s!

  • PRATIK91 on March 30, 2013, 18:16 GMT

    I think this is very a vital topic. A point which Harsha put is very comprehensive. People who doesn't like cricket at all may like to watch T20 format but from this point we can't say that they will watch Test cricket as eagerly as T20 matches they saw. So we can't conclude that this particular crowd will also join with us to watch Test matches. Because T20 format of game is just for 3 hrs, but Test match is upto 5 days. That patients you can't expect from the people who like to watch only Shorter version of games. Though an example of small car quote by Harsha is valid in this context, but it is a lengthy procedure and I think it will take long time to bring in to practice. Still I like Harsha's point of view which he try to put forward through this article.

  • SillyPoint2009 on March 30, 2013, 13:40 GMT

    As usual Harsha Bhogle misses the point. The same people who drive the BMW do not drive the Alto - Bhogle is looking at it from the point of the administrators and revenue streams. It is no coincidence that this article was written the week of the IPL starting, as mr HB undoubtedly has a weekly column commitment to earn his keep. And truly sorry, but all these commentators who rave about the IPL and are paid by the BCCI have no credibility any more. Wish there was a channel with just cricket and no commentators! There is something to pay for!

  • TATTUs on March 30, 2013, 0:47 GMT

    Its IPL and Harsha comes out with a T20 article.

  • Zak1234 on March 30, 2013, 0:37 GMT

    Perfectly written by a perfect MBA graduate with a narrow view of the sport we love so much!

  • Batmanian on March 30, 2013, 0:34 GMT

    I think it's quite hard to learn the complexity of first class cricket as a viewer. For example, the tipping point where a weaker team in a weaker position half-commits to batting for a draw, and the better team may have to alter its tactics to get wickets, but may end up letting the weaker team off in the process. Very hard to explain that deliciousness to others; they have to work it out for themselves. And probably start young. I can't see many converts to Test fandom coming through T20. But something has to subsidise real cricket. I also find it enjoyable watching short-form specialists try their hands at long-form; Warner has been fascinating. I know he can fully convert, and offer something new (eg the capacity to try to chase 310 off 55 overs - something that has never been in the Test arsenal but should be), but it's still coalescing.

  • arvind.panchal on March 29, 2013, 18:44 GMT

    It is important that the broadcasters educate their viewers. Instead of cliched commentaries if you can have experts speaks about the details of the Test cricket, I am sure anybody would follow. Cricket is not as complicated as it is made. Those who play this game in India and understand its intricacies are certainly not the most smart people of the society. They understand when a playing a maiden is a great achievement and so on... So not just cricket needs multiple 'products' (I hate this term by the way) but its broadcasters need to educate the viewers. But it should not be that just because mass of the audience only understand whether India won or lost so we should start forcing results at the cost of cricket itself. Complex numbers in maths are difficult and not most people dont understand them but it does not mean that we stop using them.

    There are things which cannot be decided based on just democratic viewpoint and market forces -- Cricket is certainly one of those.

  • digvijay_5885 on March 29, 2013, 4:54 GMT

    I am a big fan of yours harsha. Still remember that Ind-Aus series of 2002-03 and not only because of Dravid, Laxman and (that unlikely hero) Agarkar's performance but also becuase of some Excellent Commentary/discussions that involved you, Sunny and Ravi. And when i compare that series with the just finished one, i dont feel the same level of excitement or satisfaction. And i think the only reason could be the kind of Commentary that was on offer, becuase the onfield performances were still pretty decent.

    Throughout the series the commentary was Restrained. It was actually catering to an audience who as you said doesnt understand 'moving long leg a touch finer' and that was disappointing. If 'someone' does not understand the intricacies of the game, it doesnt mean you stop analysing those complexities. Infact you should continue to do so because only then that 'someone' will make an effort to understand.

  • Yuji9 on April 1, 2013, 5:49 GMT

    Rugby 7's is separate from 15 a side so why can't T20 have its own separate full time competition with sloggers and all-rounders watched full time by fans with short attention spans? Why do we have to embrace all 3 forms? Why do our cricketers need to play all 3 forms when the skills demand almost the opposite mind sets? We cannot produce quality Test cricketers when they play nothing but T20's at school, Grade and First Class levels. At the U19 World Cup last year, the batting techniques were drastically less to those of years past. The rot has begun. T20 can never produce a Shane Warne for example as the format doesn't allow it. If Warne played only T20 in Grade and State level we may never have even seen him in Tests. Now we get Maxwell. Everywhere from domestic to grade to school level matches are shrinking to T20 and thus Test techniques are slipping. T20 must produce its own players full time and leave the rest alone. We need to be able to choose T20 or reject. We can't co-exist!

  • jay57870 on March 31, 2013, 13:09 GMT

    Harsha's car analogy is spot on. The great auto pioneer Alfred Sloan famously declared: "A Car for Every Purse and Purpose"! It works so well in the car marketplace! Likewise cricket offers a "portfolio" of products & services: Tests, ODIs & T20s cater to different segments of the market. The "purpose" of IPL is different from Tests. The paying audience is different, more families than sophisticated Test fans. Let's face it: Cricket is an entertainment business. Like it or not, IPL is a money-making show-piece. BCCI spreads revenues to all corners of the nation. Realistically it's an industry (like cars). The multiplier effect in the economy spreads from franchisee locations (stadiums, hotels, transport) to remote audiences (TV, Internet, mobile) to sports-goods manufacturing (Meerut, Jalandhar) to construction (facilities, academies) & to exports. The Aam Aadmi is positively impacted! Much as I like Tests, I've come to enjoy T20s & ODIs too. It's genre-changing! Yes to IPL, Harsha!!

  • jay57870 on March 31, 2013, 12:44 GMT

    Harsha - Spot on! I grew up faithfully with Test cricket. It was the "only game in town" - not football nor hockey for me. A Test match ticket was worth the price & wait, even if India were losing. Strangely, it was also the era of the dreaded License Raj - Ambassador, Fiat 1100 & Standard Herald! Take it or leave it! Demand exceeded supply (50000 p.a.). Fast forward to the modern era: Things have definitely changed for the better with the 1991 reforms. The marketplace is thriving with better choices (15+ makes) & quality. Supply exceeds demand (3 million p.a.). No more 7-year waits for the Ambassador! Yes, the vast "portfolio" of products & services caters to different customer preferences & needs - from high-end luxury cars to small affordable cars - nationwide. That's real competition: A seismic shift from the License Raj! Alongside these economic reforms & globalisation, Indian cricket too has changed dramatically - with the power-centre shift to India & the rise of ODIs & T20s!

  • PRATIK91 on March 30, 2013, 18:16 GMT

    I think this is very a vital topic. A point which Harsha put is very comprehensive. People who doesn't like cricket at all may like to watch T20 format but from this point we can't say that they will watch Test cricket as eagerly as T20 matches they saw. So we can't conclude that this particular crowd will also join with us to watch Test matches. Because T20 format of game is just for 3 hrs, but Test match is upto 5 days. That patients you can't expect from the people who like to watch only Shorter version of games. Though an example of small car quote by Harsha is valid in this context, but it is a lengthy procedure and I think it will take long time to bring in to practice. Still I like Harsha's point of view which he try to put forward through this article.

  • SillyPoint2009 on March 30, 2013, 13:40 GMT

    As usual Harsha Bhogle misses the point. The same people who drive the BMW do not drive the Alto - Bhogle is looking at it from the point of the administrators and revenue streams. It is no coincidence that this article was written the week of the IPL starting, as mr HB undoubtedly has a weekly column commitment to earn his keep. And truly sorry, but all these commentators who rave about the IPL and are paid by the BCCI have no credibility any more. Wish there was a channel with just cricket and no commentators! There is something to pay for!

  • TATTUs on March 30, 2013, 0:47 GMT

    Its IPL and Harsha comes out with a T20 article.

  • Zak1234 on March 30, 2013, 0:37 GMT

    Perfectly written by a perfect MBA graduate with a narrow view of the sport we love so much!

  • Batmanian on March 30, 2013, 0:34 GMT

    I think it's quite hard to learn the complexity of first class cricket as a viewer. For example, the tipping point where a weaker team in a weaker position half-commits to batting for a draw, and the better team may have to alter its tactics to get wickets, but may end up letting the weaker team off in the process. Very hard to explain that deliciousness to others; they have to work it out for themselves. And probably start young. I can't see many converts to Test fandom coming through T20. But something has to subsidise real cricket. I also find it enjoyable watching short-form specialists try their hands at long-form; Warner has been fascinating. I know he can fully convert, and offer something new (eg the capacity to try to chase 310 off 55 overs - something that has never been in the Test arsenal but should be), but it's still coalescing.

  • Sameer-hbk on March 29, 2013, 22:31 GMT

    Interesting article by Harsha, who is probably one of the more 'balanced' voices of the game. Looking at a few of the things mentioned here- "Only a tiny percent of viewers have been inside a cricket ground". Being from Hyd (me that is!) did you ever look at the stands of the ground. In mid-March it is like getting baked in hell after getting frisked 200 times. Why would I ever wanna go back? "not a large number understand English". Does that mean you bring down the quality of broadcasting with 'fan boys' as commentators? One thing I never understood is why we are supposed to accept T20 as cricket? Just because greedy international boards approved it to fill their pockets? Is a 30 min match with two 15 min halves a football or hockey match? We are not looking down on T20. Sure, those who love it have a right to enjoy it. But it is just not CRICKET. How many new quality test nations has this strategy thrown up in last 10 years? What about those stats?

  • gentlemans-game on March 29, 2013, 22:17 GMT

    Interesting point, and it's probably worth thinking about. But Harsha's argument is flawed because its based on the assumption that preference for format is based on demographics. It isn't and can't be. It's far more complex. Going back to the car analogy - anyone buying an entry level BMW (for example) is buying into core BMW values. How much of core cricket values do T20 and ODI embrace?

  • on March 29, 2013, 19:21 GMT

    @2_fine_legs- Brilliant!!!

  • abhijeet0706 on March 29, 2013, 19:04 GMT

    I am sorry to say this about someone who understands quality... but Harsha has looked upon the matter with a very shallow attitude. There are 2 kinds of current audiences. One, who have seen enough of tests, ODIs and t20s- they know the difference of batting (and bowling) quality levels in each of these formats. They will never like t20s because there is no takeaway from a t20 match, its like their is everything to lose but nothing to gain (apart from a few grins) from a t20 match. The other kind of followers are those who are being introduced to cricket through t20s. For them, bowls are delivered by someone to be hit as hard as possible. Occasionally leading to a fall of wicket due to some unknown reasons (whichever way doesn't matter). They will never like tests because in tests the best shot is that of LEAVING the ball (and the most difficult shot for any batsman). They might understand the art of batting but they will never (/want) to understand the art of bowling.

  • 2_fine_legs on March 29, 2013, 18:59 GMT

    I was wondering when all the IPL apologists are going to start coming our of the woodwork. And here they are, led by none other than Harsha. There are so many flaws in this argument and Harsha is taking a lot of things for granted here. I am in my 30s and I love Test cricket but I have dozens of friends/cousins in their 20s who follow Test cricket and prefer it over T20. Harsha seems to assume that everyone in their 20s is a T20/IPL fan. And to further the point made by Digvijay about the commentary, I've seen a similar shift happen in football (Premier League) coverage. Gradually the commentators start catering to the lowest common denominator and all the intricacies are lost and we end up with just a lot of noise. I think we have reached that stage in Indian cricket with the Shastris, Sidhus, Arun Lals et al. And finally your analogy of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Kishore Kumar is plain wrong. The difference in Tests and T20 is more like Kishore and Himesh Reshamiya.

  • rick333 on March 29, 2013, 18:27 GMT

    Perhaps T20 could be made more bowler friendly for the purists to have some fun too. Cheap runs do not excite pundits/avid followers aka Benz,BWM owners (BTW, is it owner or driver not all upscale ones are chauffer driven :P)

  • cricraz on March 29, 2013, 18:19 GMT

    Finally, someone who has a pulse of the present generation fans. I am someone who grew up idolizing Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar in his early days. There are lots of comments on the purity of Test cricket and ODI. These are my generation of people trying to hold on to what they were attracted and refusing to recognize the interests of present generation. All the commentators and administrators belong to that generation and keep forcing test cricket on to the new generation. The new generation likes quick instant action! very much like American football, basketball and want to go to T20 game at the end of the workday!. There is no such thing as purity of any game. Games evolve. If we want cricket to be what it was, then we should ask players to play without helmets. The present generation cricketers are much more athletic and stronger and can play highly skilled reverse sweep and Dilscoop. Test cricket will disappear in the 20-30 yrs!.

  • getsetgopk on March 29, 2013, 16:27 GMT

    he's like to end up being bored with 4's and 6's one day. If you let the market forces lead the way and sine T20's bring in more money so you just stop playing tests altogether, what if the same fickle fans stops showing at the cricket grounds anymore? Thats where the very existence of any type of cricket comes in danger, we might just end up loosing the sport in its entirety. When some fans say that T20 is killing the sport is not simply because they have something against T20's but their concerns are very real. People's mode swing from time to time and its not wise for the sake a few dollars to blindly follow they want because once you give them enough of it, they'll just simply loose interest. The guy who said "dont kill the golden goose" and why its so popular and everyone believes it, is for a very good reason. Give those type of fans what they want, but keep them wanting more.

  • getsetgopk on March 29, 2013, 16:17 GMT

    It sounds an appeal to its audience by the writer to not look down upon T20, respect the Alto more even though a Benz in a Benz. Fact of the matter is, cricket offers a variety of magnificent things both in bowling and batting. What does T20 offer? 4's and 6's. I do agree 4's and 6's have its charm and its fun watching someone on song cracking 4's and 6's but thats not all there is to cricket. In T20's you dont get to see a batsman trying to survive a particular bowler or a batsman trying to save a 5 day affair on a crumbling 5th day pitch or a batsman trying to break the shackles to get his team out of the rut. There is no test of character of either the bowler or the batsman. My only problem with T20's is that it puts everything else to one side and all it offers is again, 4's and 6's. The thing that one needs to understand is that change is the only constant, if a fan of a particular sport can get bored with something, its highly likely he's likely to end up being bored with (Cont)

  • AdityaUpadhyay on March 29, 2013, 16:08 GMT

    I , after a long time. agree with Harsha, why we want to be on one side? We can enjoy both forms of game equally. Did people stop enjoying old & classical music when pop & rap music? In fact old & classical music appears more melodious than ever. It would be unfair to call a player mediocre of he plays well in T20 & not that good in Tests. Prime example is Yuvraj Singh. He is one of the modern greats of One Day cricket,and contributed largely to India's success in the last decade. Though he hasn't achieved those heights in Test cricket. That doesn't make him a lesser players. Exactly same can be said about VVS in One day cricket. So its really time we should think cricket beyond the words like great,legends & stats. A Yuvraj Singh's 6 over extra covers produces same joy that a VVS's wristy flick down the leg side.

  • ChaitanyaC on March 29, 2013, 15:04 GMT

    Harsha, thanks for another great article. People who are on the poles, supporting only T20 or test cricket but not both are taking part in the classical controversy of evaluating and comparing pleasures. One camp in that controversy says that drinking beer in front of TV could provide same pleasure as having wine while watching sunset on a sea. As Jeremy Bentham would say 'pushpin is same as poetry.' The other camp says exactly the opposite. That there are higher pleasures and the lower pleasures and that a person who has been exposed to both would eventually choose the higher pleasure.

    If investing a lot of time and money in T20 is going to stop younger people from getting exposure to test cricket, then it probably shouldn't be done. Looking at what is happening right now, that seems to be the case.

    Snobbery is one extreme and pandering is other. The focus should be on the greatest good for greatest number for many many years to come!

  • on March 29, 2013, 14:43 GMT

    The query put forward here by Harsha has lot to with the changing civilisational aspects. The society the civilisation has started objectifying what once use to be romance, love, care and healthcare. You see it everywhere market is cashing even tensions, controversies and contentions. I mean putting a monitory value behind everything. A passage of play in test cricket is loved by a true fan irrespective of the result. Mohali's last session being the recent case. But the final result the scoreline 4-0 is much more celebrated with the tags of revenge and vengeance. This is the process objectifying. I mean we are going to see it everywhere with the race to survive in depleting natural resources and resources. say 50 years from now he picture will be a contrasting one from today.

  • on March 29, 2013, 13:21 GMT

    To support my above views i present 2 arbitrary examples- 1)It is much easier for a person to watch a weekly tv show than catch a movie & once one gets hooked to 20-20, i don't think he will shift to test cricket. 2)Forget the audience check the players themselves..Gayle,Pietersen & others have through express words or implied action made it amply clear where their loyalties lie.

    I think a better solution to the problem is cutting down the length of IPL because even its biggest fan would agree it goes on for far too long.It is much better to divide the teams into group of two rather than having a month long 20-20 tournament when the 20-20 world cup only takes 2 weeks.

  • on March 29, 2013, 13:16 GMT

    I am 21 years old & had been following cricket for the last 10 years around.Now i am not a snob or purist but i have to disagree on one of the finer points you made that people who get hooked to 20-20 will gradually get to like test cricket. On the contrary people who enjoy test cricket may enjoy 20-20 but the opposite is seldom true.Instead of catering to the loyal fans who actually understand the game i believe the emphasis today is to appeal to the consumer with the shortest attention span as IPL is given much more emphasis than bilateral tours.Sri Lanka cricket board recently cancelled a tour to accommodate its players to go to IPL.

  • Dashgar on March 29, 2013, 13:13 GMT

    This is not a the reality though. There are a massive amount of young people interested in test cricket the trouble is that the mass marketing goes towards T20 instead. The IPL is driven by so much money it almost has to succeed. If that sort of money was invested in making tests an entertainment package then they would be just as popular. Look at Australia where the BBL is actually funded partly by test revenue. Test cricket is still supreme but it won't be if it becomes a lower priority. I'm all for bringing in new fans but cricket shouldn't become something it's not.

  • on March 29, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    Good points, Harsha, but nobody in the auto industry is claiming that a mass market car for the people is as high quality as a luxury model. Your colleagues responsible for presenting the game should not be pretending that the shortened forms are as intricate, or require as much mental and physical skill as Tests. The hyperbole of Shastri, Warne et al regarding T20 batting against substandard opposition in the IPL in particular discourages people like me from taking an interest, and fails to encourage those new to the sport to educate themselves about the longer forms. Less of a problem than the stupid civil war cricket admin seems unable to end, but a contributory factor, certainly.

  • The_Red_Cherry on March 29, 2013, 12:09 GMT

    Its always a pleasure to listen to Harsha. For me he represents the true cricket enthusiast. Its been 30 years since he has been following cricket with the same adoration as the press follows a Hollywood star. His commentary is devoid of the staidness of Manjrekar, the cynicism of Boycott, the crudeness of Sidhu or even the cliches of Shastri. He doesnt point out the technicalities but merely puts his points across like you would do in a coffee house.

    Even in this article it is hard to dispute his observations. The only problem is the workload on the player. It is not surprising to see players starting to prefer the shorter versions. Its ok if we open the doors to the newest breed of viewers if it means greater sustenance for the game. However it is vital that the governing bodies still attach the greatest importance to Test cricket. The true measure of a cricketer can only be judged by the "Red Cherry". Players and viewers alike should never be allowed to forget this.

  • Andre2 on March 29, 2013, 12:03 GMT

    Fortunately, the English season of 1st class cricket starts on April 10th ! So there will ca. 12 days without proper cricket. That is not so long, after all.

  • Un_Citoyen_Indien on March 29, 2013, 12:02 GMT

    I must say that I enjoyed this article by Harsha (not always the case). Cricket has forever been this highly elitist sport (if you want to call it that, many would call it just a game). Few sports have luncheon intervals, let alone tea breaks! And who even uses the term "pavilion" in modern sport (the very concept of which is so Victorian English)?

    That is why football (soccer to all you Aussies) is such a popular sport world over. It actually caters to the masses. In today's fast paced existence that lays out a veritable banquet of information before your over stuffed mind, people can only enjoy what their attention spans will allow them to.....

    Expecting people to spend five valuable days of their existence to watch a game of Test Cricket is not very reasonable.

    So while it was fun watching India thrash the Aussies to bits, I'm definitely looking forward to the IPL, which along with other T20 leagues is really the future of cricket in my opinion.

  • srinivasvijai on March 29, 2013, 10:02 GMT

    Comparing cricket to an automobile company is a specious argument. More often than not, if I buy an Alto, it is not because I'm in love with it but because I cannot yet afford a Merc or a BMW. Test cricket lovers are worried about the T20 hype because they fear that very soon we may have a generation of cricketers who are content to make money playing T20. This may lead to a decline in the standard of Test cricket and ultimately, its demise.

  • on March 29, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    I do have lot of regards to Harsha. But being a media man, he is trying to glorify and project the T20 let alone the IPL. For the recently concluded Test series, I think we'd huge crowds unlike for the past some years. People had understood the perils of IPL and T20, though it promises excitement in bits and pieces, it is ultimately test and ODI, that would provide ultimate enthusiasm, excitement, and learning. The 3 day test match @ Delhi is much more fascinating than a boring IPL.

  • deepak_sholapurkar on March 29, 2013, 9:33 GMT

    an expected Well timed article by Harsha in praise of 20-20. We know IPL is next week and need to bear this kind of articles more and more.

  • on March 29, 2013, 9:22 GMT

    Like how you compare test cricket to a merc and T20 to a small car. For me T20 is entertainment. I would think twice before calling it SPORT! After all, if we're catering to the entertainment of people in India, we already have Bollywood taking care of that.

  • tickcric on March 29, 2013, 9:16 GMT

    Cricket will have fans of different taste & there is nothing wrong with that. And needs of the fans, the sponsors are important considerations for the financial sustainability and the overall welfare of the sport.

    But what about the players? I mean the cricket of the cricketers. A recent article in this site, Sun sets on Australian batting - Chappell, presented the views of Ian Chapell & Ricky Ponting. Both of these legends, among other things, pointed out the negative influence of excessive exposure to shorter forms of the game on the upcoming cricketers. Will the game truly benefit if the new generation of players (batters/ bowlers) are weak in basics and 'strong' in 'innovations'?

    I don't mind the thrills of T20 but if the sponsors interest and the fans indulgence is to hamper the development of the 'real thing' - the cricketing skills, then I would say these franchise based leagues, much like their soft drinks sponsors, are not healthy for the game!

  • sray23 on March 29, 2013, 7:51 GMT

    Just because new audiences don't understand cricket doesn't mean cricket should dumb down to their level. Give the cricketers (esp fast bowlers) enough rest from a crowded schedule, have curators prepare good cricket pitches, have stadiums in India improve spectator facilities with non-harrassing security, sell tickets efficiently and fairly in India, schedule Test series well to have a build-up, have good educational commentary and you will have a playing and television product to rival any in sport. Right now in India most pitches are still featherbeds, except the Aus series India play a very defensive brand of cricket, spectator facilities and entry/exit to stadiums are atrocious and the commentary/analysis until the Tests were on Neo was dull and uninspiring. And we complain that audiences (esp in India) do not take to Test cricket?? I suggest try improving all of the above first rather than promoting a T20, which is nothing more than fairy floss cricket.

  • SherjilIslam on March 29, 2013, 7:49 GMT

    @KiwiRocker: As my fellow mates already gave you correct explanations on your views, but still like to enlighten you about the the fact that India's performance in overseas condition is excellent between 2000 to 2011 WC.It's only the two whitewashes that has taken some sheen away from India's performances overseas. Also you should not complain about the pitches being prepared in India.It's a traditional thing that pitches here in India supports spinners and I don't think any country has changed the nature it's pitches in the recent years.England & NZ offers swing and seam, SA offers hard and bouncy tracks and so are the tracks of Aus. Sri-Lanka offers spinning tracks.Had any of these countries changed the nature of pitches to suit their specific bowlers???The answer is no.Then How come you expect this only from India???

  • venkatesh018 on March 29, 2013, 7:22 GMT

    I can understand where Harsha is coming from. There is an audience for T20 entertainment and that should be catered to by the IPL and International T20s. But why should running of T20 cricket be given to private corporates when until now all domestic and international cricket in all nations was run by the respective cricketing boards? Why should players in T20 be paid millions of dollars ? All it does is turn potentially great Test match players ie Kieron Pollard, Pat Cummins, Lasith Malinga etc. into players satisfied with the easy dollar !

  • ram5160 on March 29, 2013, 7:16 GMT

    The fact is the only people who have the time to go watch Tests at the ground are teenagers, college-goers & Retired people. The lower prices for tests (at least in India) help these people too eg: Min ticket prices at Chepauk for IPL is Rs.750/match & for the recent Test was Rs.50/day. Go to any test match & look around you, there are only these age groups (predominantly male). If you want test cricket to survive, you can't ignore / belittle the knowledge of these people. What will kill test cricket is ELITISM - marketing it as something tough to understand & only for Very Serious People. The fact is T20 was marketed as a way to bring people to the ground, but actually its made for TV - it targets the prime time & an entirely different group of people - working class, white collar, female, married.

  • Crick_Connoisseur on March 29, 2013, 7:15 GMT

    This article seems to be straight out of a management book with jargon like 'entry point' and 'bouquet of offerings'. Mr. Bhogle, pl. write your heart out like you used to do in the good ol' days and refrain from trying always to be politically correct and making 'business sense'. This sport inherently has been an anachronism for most part of its history with the fan following restricted to that faithful few (of romantics). The focus should not be on bringing more into its fold but to retain the purity and spirit that has glued the faithful onto it for all these years. It isn't merely an accident that despite having those tournaments involving Lat. Am./S.E. Asian nations, cricket is still not followed beyond the dominant nations. Also, I'd like to stress that cricket as a sport transcends the oversimplified 'us vs them' spirit of most sports. Why has cricket produced such a rich literature unparalleled in world sport? Can a book on CSK's IPL season match A. Chopra's 'Beyond the Blues'?

  • realfan on March 29, 2013, 6:57 GMT

    @KiwiRocker so now you comes out..... i wondered if you have gone to collect some facts, but all you did was just a lame comment against india...... i will recommend you to use the stats guru section of cricinfo to get your facts right..... indians are the next nation to AUS who has most number of win record and guess what pak is in the least....and regarding pitches where were you when the series was going on, or may be you were commenting on different name or so....ofcourse we indian do grew up watching walls and gods hitting sixes, not like pak audiance grew up watching many low score pak got in tests.... or may be they grew up watching their batsmen failing miserably when they are out of their home ( now its UAE )

    dont look at players like ojah ashwin and pujara, look at ajmal, junaid, nasir jamshed where they struggle big time in SA to pick even single wicket and to score single run, and you are still searching for perfect batsmen with test technique.... pathetic.....

  • rockstarinnellai on March 29, 2013, 6:08 GMT

    @ kiwi rocker the wall played well overseas. how could u blame him hitting sixes in dustbowls..? except South Africa no team performed outside home.. ind beat aus 4-0 nad they are no.3

  • mrgupta on March 29, 2013, 5:23 GMT

    @ KiwiRocker: Oh i was so much waiting for you to comment on India so that i can give you one very interesting stat i found about Pakistan team. Checking statsguru i found that since year 2000 Pakistan has Won series outside Asia only in NZ and Zim! Isn't this amazing record given that India in the mean time Drew series in Aus and SA and Won in Eng, NZ, WI, Zim (and Pakistan). The last 6 tests Pakistan played in Australia they have Won... Sorry lost all 6 and their record in SA since 2000 is also pretty amazing Won 1 lost 7! in England Won 3 lost 8! staggering stats. Check for the stats for India in these countries since year 2000 now. Hint: Better than Pakistan ;-)

  • on March 29, 2013, 5:15 GMT

    Hey @KiwiRocker, let me point you to this stat: http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;home_or_away=2;orderby=win_loss_ratio;spanmax1=31+Dec+2010;spanmin1=01+Jan+2001;spanval1=span;template=results;type=team From 2001-2010, India won 22 Tests overseas, second only to Australia. I guess you're one of those fans who hasn't really followed Test cricket for too long :) Also, your point regarding the pitches is unfair. Pitches in India have been like that always -- sometimes they turn more than usual, but good fast bowlers can do well -- case in point McGrath, Wasim, Srinath, Zaheer. There's nothing wrong with spinning tracks: part of the beauty of Test cricket is the different surfaces that suit different types of bowling, and how players adapt to those conditions. Would you ban clay courts in tennis, for example? No. Perhaps you suffer from ADHD so you should stick to watching T20. After all, that's the only thing NZ is good at anyway

  • GMNorm on March 29, 2013, 5:03 GMT

    Totally agree. The modern fan is looking for a beer fulled 90 minute sporting experience with his mates and test cricket is a million miles away from serving that need. Only Twenty20 can keep cricket competitive against Aussie Rules ( in Oz), Rugby ( NZ/SA) and football ( England). Next gen India will vote with their feet for football and F1 and all the media commentators who talked themselves out of a job while disparaging T20( their future) and lionising Tests ( imperial relic) can reflect on their stupidity in their country cottages

  • on March 29, 2013, 4:18 GMT

    I disagree with yogi s. The top four nations play more Test cricket than before. Take India's just concluded home season - 10 Tests! Eng and Aus also have two visitors instead of just one. SA finished a three match series in Aus only to head back and play three at home against Pak. Actually, there's overkill of cricket in all three formats. Too many Tests, too many ODIs, too many T20 leagues. That is because administrators just cram in as many matches in the calendar as possible and don't care much for what each series will bring to the table.

  • yogi.s on March 29, 2013, 3:17 GMT

    Slightly disappointed with the article, felt that you were talking about how to make test commentary more relevant to the common man (which is a worthy topic) but the article drifted off to talk about what you have said many times before . In fact I'm surprised you said we shouldn't push too much test cricket down their throat or they'l go away. There isnt too much of test cricket in any case. While it is undisputed that more and more people follow tests and dont watch it I think the challenge is to make the packaging of a test series a sort of tradition like the boxing day tests or the ashes series so that there are more people watching be it at the grounds or in front of the Tv's.

  • KiwiRocker- on March 29, 2013, 3:12 GMT

    I do take Bhogle's point and somewhat agree with the sentiment expressed in his article. In my opinion, ICC has yet again failed to fully control the game of cricket. The recent pitches in India were a shame for test cricket. There is no better sight in cricket than a fascinating fast bowler running at full steam and destroying stumps. There needs to be a balance between ball and bat. Indian public is being fed a huge dose of sixes on manufactured pitches via a circus like IPL. India's young generation has grown up watching their Gods and walls hitting sixes in India and failing spectacularly so media and cricket admins keep feeding same does to the fans.Look at players like Ojha, Ashwin and Pujara who have no or little success outside India and are being touted as stars.There need to be sporting and balanced pitches to ensure test cricket stays alive or else people will keep turning away.ICC rankings are also flawed. India with worse records outside India is ranked no.3? Clueless!

  • shrikanthk on March 29, 2013, 2:45 GMT

    Mr Bhogle - Also Test cricket is not as niche as you imagine. More people follow test cricket closely in India than anywhere in the world (UK included)

    It is a massively popular form of the sport as evidenced by the significant crowds in several home tests this season and the large TV viewership.

  • shrikanthk on March 29, 2013, 2:45 GMT

    Mr Bhogle - Also Test cricket is not as niche as you imagine. More people follow test cricket closely in India than anywhere in the world (UK included)

    It is a massively popular form of the sport as evidenced by the significant crowds in several home tests this season and the large TV viewership.

  • KiwiRocker- on March 29, 2013, 3:12 GMT

    I do take Bhogle's point and somewhat agree with the sentiment expressed in his article. In my opinion, ICC has yet again failed to fully control the game of cricket. The recent pitches in India were a shame for test cricket. There is no better sight in cricket than a fascinating fast bowler running at full steam and destroying stumps. There needs to be a balance between ball and bat. Indian public is being fed a huge dose of sixes on manufactured pitches via a circus like IPL. India's young generation has grown up watching their Gods and walls hitting sixes in India and failing spectacularly so media and cricket admins keep feeding same does to the fans.Look at players like Ojha, Ashwin and Pujara who have no or little success outside India and are being touted as stars.There need to be sporting and balanced pitches to ensure test cricket stays alive or else people will keep turning away.ICC rankings are also flawed. India with worse records outside India is ranked no.3? Clueless!

  • yogi.s on March 29, 2013, 3:17 GMT

    Slightly disappointed with the article, felt that you were talking about how to make test commentary more relevant to the common man (which is a worthy topic) but the article drifted off to talk about what you have said many times before . In fact I'm surprised you said we shouldn't push too much test cricket down their throat or they'l go away. There isnt too much of test cricket in any case. While it is undisputed that more and more people follow tests and dont watch it I think the challenge is to make the packaging of a test series a sort of tradition like the boxing day tests or the ashes series so that there are more people watching be it at the grounds or in front of the Tv's.

  • on March 29, 2013, 4:18 GMT

    I disagree with yogi s. The top four nations play more Test cricket than before. Take India's just concluded home season - 10 Tests! Eng and Aus also have two visitors instead of just one. SA finished a three match series in Aus only to head back and play three at home against Pak. Actually, there's overkill of cricket in all three formats. Too many Tests, too many ODIs, too many T20 leagues. That is because administrators just cram in as many matches in the calendar as possible and don't care much for what each series will bring to the table.

  • GMNorm on March 29, 2013, 5:03 GMT

    Totally agree. The modern fan is looking for a beer fulled 90 minute sporting experience with his mates and test cricket is a million miles away from serving that need. Only Twenty20 can keep cricket competitive against Aussie Rules ( in Oz), Rugby ( NZ/SA) and football ( England). Next gen India will vote with their feet for football and F1 and all the media commentators who talked themselves out of a job while disparaging T20( their future) and lionising Tests ( imperial relic) can reflect on their stupidity in their country cottages

  • on March 29, 2013, 5:15 GMT

    Hey @KiwiRocker, let me point you to this stat: http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;home_or_away=2;orderby=win_loss_ratio;spanmax1=31+Dec+2010;spanmin1=01+Jan+2001;spanval1=span;template=results;type=team From 2001-2010, India won 22 Tests overseas, second only to Australia. I guess you're one of those fans who hasn't really followed Test cricket for too long :) Also, your point regarding the pitches is unfair. Pitches in India have been like that always -- sometimes they turn more than usual, but good fast bowlers can do well -- case in point McGrath, Wasim, Srinath, Zaheer. There's nothing wrong with spinning tracks: part of the beauty of Test cricket is the different surfaces that suit different types of bowling, and how players adapt to those conditions. Would you ban clay courts in tennis, for example? No. Perhaps you suffer from ADHD so you should stick to watching T20. After all, that's the only thing NZ is good at anyway

  • mrgupta on March 29, 2013, 5:23 GMT

    @ KiwiRocker: Oh i was so much waiting for you to comment on India so that i can give you one very interesting stat i found about Pakistan team. Checking statsguru i found that since year 2000 Pakistan has Won series outside Asia only in NZ and Zim! Isn't this amazing record given that India in the mean time Drew series in Aus and SA and Won in Eng, NZ, WI, Zim (and Pakistan). The last 6 tests Pakistan played in Australia they have Won... Sorry lost all 6 and their record in SA since 2000 is also pretty amazing Won 1 lost 7! in England Won 3 lost 8! staggering stats. Check for the stats for India in these countries since year 2000 now. Hint: Better than Pakistan ;-)

  • rockstarinnellai on March 29, 2013, 6:08 GMT

    @ kiwi rocker the wall played well overseas. how could u blame him hitting sixes in dustbowls..? except South Africa no team performed outside home.. ind beat aus 4-0 nad they are no.3

  • realfan on March 29, 2013, 6:57 GMT

    @KiwiRocker so now you comes out..... i wondered if you have gone to collect some facts, but all you did was just a lame comment against india...... i will recommend you to use the stats guru section of cricinfo to get your facts right..... indians are the next nation to AUS who has most number of win record and guess what pak is in the least....and regarding pitches where were you when the series was going on, or may be you were commenting on different name or so....ofcourse we indian do grew up watching walls and gods hitting sixes, not like pak audiance grew up watching many low score pak got in tests.... or may be they grew up watching their batsmen failing miserably when they are out of their home ( now its UAE )

    dont look at players like ojah ashwin and pujara, look at ajmal, junaid, nasir jamshed where they struggle big time in SA to pick even single wicket and to score single run, and you are still searching for perfect batsmen with test technique.... pathetic.....

  • Crick_Connoisseur on March 29, 2013, 7:15 GMT

    This article seems to be straight out of a management book with jargon like 'entry point' and 'bouquet of offerings'. Mr. Bhogle, pl. write your heart out like you used to do in the good ol' days and refrain from trying always to be politically correct and making 'business sense'. This sport inherently has been an anachronism for most part of its history with the fan following restricted to that faithful few (of romantics). The focus should not be on bringing more into its fold but to retain the purity and spirit that has glued the faithful onto it for all these years. It isn't merely an accident that despite having those tournaments involving Lat. Am./S.E. Asian nations, cricket is still not followed beyond the dominant nations. Also, I'd like to stress that cricket as a sport transcends the oversimplified 'us vs them' spirit of most sports. Why has cricket produced such a rich literature unparalleled in world sport? Can a book on CSK's IPL season match A. Chopra's 'Beyond the Blues'?