Fixed Test centers would facelift level of WTC in India
The venues for the test matches in India should be fixed so that World Test Championship matches remain fair.
The ICC came up with the concept of World Test Championships to bring out the essence of the test cricket among the fans and young players around the world, and it has worked really well. But as they say, nothing is perfect and a slight loophole can trigger the whole action backward. The Indian Cricket team whitewashed South Africa in test series at home and the series looked one-sided. The first test was won by 203 runs, the second one by an innings and 137 runs and the third was won by an innings and 202 runs. The margins through which the Indian team has won the series are huge and South Africans looked completely helpless at every point of the game.
After winning the series, Indian captain Virat Kohli has suggested that the venues for test matches in India should be fixed and should not be more than five. The point raised by the skipper is completely relevant as in order to keep the test cricket alive, there should not be any trial and error with the original format. In the series against South Africa, BCCI introduced two new test venues that are in Ranchi and Pune.
The motive of BCCI behind introducing new centers for test cricket is to create a sense of the popularity of this format among the fans in the smaller cities. But what was noticed during these test matches was the lack of interest among the crowd and very less flow of the viewers. Before the third test match against South Africa in Ranchi, there was just the sale of 3000 tickets. The crowd was noticed only during the weekends and the weekdays had almost empty stadiums.
When it comes to cricket, and especially when the Indian team is playing anywhere across the globe, the stadiums are usually packed with an enthusiastic crowd supporting the team. But the low level of interest during India vs South Africa test series came as a shocker to everyone.
India has been hosting test matches at various centers from the past many years. And during N Srinivasan's tenure as BCCI president, he allocated only major centers to host test matches, but from 2015, India started with the rotation policy where other venues also got a chance to host test matches. And now, the inclusion of new venues like Ranchi Dharamshala, Indore looks like the decision has gone wrong.
Traditional format, traditional centers
From the 1990s till 2000, the test matches were hosted at only major venues like Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru. But then in 2000 Jagmohan Dalmiya, then BCCI president came with the policy to allocate 10 centers for test matches and things completely changed as new venues were introduced.
It is really important, especially for the test matches to have fixed venues because it will not just help the players, but these centers will be tailor-made for the test matches only. In India, the old venues like Eden Garden, Wankhede Stadium, Arun Jaitley Stadium, MA Chidambaram Stadium should be fixed as the test centers as these stadiums are considered as the elite ones when it comes to playing test. Looking at the last played test match at these stadiums then, Eden Garden hosted a test match in 2017, whereas MA Chidambaram Stadium hosted its last test match in 2016. All of this was a long time ago, probably because of the new centers.
It is important for the visiting teams to know the venue well before they set for the match in India which points towards the need to fix centers, just like other major countries have done. If it is England, then the team knows that they will be playing Kensington Oval, Lords', Trent Bridge, Headingly. If it is Australia then the venues are Adelaide Oval, Brisbane Cricket Ground, Melbourne Cricket Ground. But when a team is visiting India, they do not have a clue about any of the centers, because it keeps on changing every time. Leaving the shore already becomes a challenge and then not knowing the venue, the pitch and the kind of crowd that will be coming to watch you becomes more challenging for the visitors. And this should not happen.
It is true that the new venues should be introduced so that even the smaller cities get to watch the cricket matches. But the new venues should be kept only for ODIs, T20I and IPL matches because they are of shorter format and can be kept on weekends in order to attract more crowd. BCCI is likely to consider the advice of Indian skipper on fixating the centers for Test matches in order to have a fair and competitive game from both sides. India will be playing against Bangladesh at home in November next and it would really help both the teams if the Test venues get stamped for WTC.
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