True test

Written by Vinayak Bhushan | Updated: Jun 1 2009, 04:49am hrs
All cricketers, past and present, consider Test cricket as the biggest draw. Those who have hung their boots, cherish the memories of the five-day format, those who havent or are yet to experience the test, want to make their own set of memories.

But the popularity of Twenty20 cricket and its growing influence Englands tour of West Indies had to re-scheduled under pressure for players, wanting to play in the Indian Premier League has cast serious doubts on the relevance of the longer version of the game.

The Indian team travels to England to defend its World Twenty20 crown that was won in South Africa. Coming soon after the 57-day Indian Premier League in South Africa, the biennial tournament, will once again feature the top draws of world cricket, hoping to take home the winnerspurse and with it, enhance reputations of being match-winners.

Test cricket is fast losing its prominence and space to Twenty20. Consider this, after the World T20 championship, some of these very stars will again feature in the Champions League from October 8-23. And sandwiched in between is the BCCI sponsored corporate T20 event, where again players, including Virender Sehwag, who is signed up with ONGC, are expected to participate. Concurrently, the only relevant Test series after the T20 world championships is the Ashes series. And India plays its second Test series of the year against Sri Lanka at home to be held in November after the New Zealand tour in April. But the BCCI doesnt think that the two issues are related. BCCI chief administrator officer Ratnakar Shetty insisted that the scheduling of the bilateral series is been done under the ICCs Futures Tour Programme and the question of too much exposure to T20 doesnt arise.

The series are decided under the FTP and all member countries have to abide by it. And Sri Lanka Tests in November is part of that schedule. If you look at the fixtures, the bilateral series are not that frequent because it is a four-year cycle, Shetty explains.

Test cricket retains its charm and I dont agree that it is losing its pull. It was a full-house in Chennai when we were playing England. And even the series against Australia was well watched.

But despite the attention by the administrators and the players to the ultimate test of skills, the Twenty20 formats explosion in the past couple of years, especially in the Indian sub-continent, has ensured its prominence, in the eyes of the paying public has fallen drastically.

Current Indian team member, Amit Mishra, who was fairly successful for the Delhi Daredevils side, has a suggestion to restore the growing divide.

IPL is great platform, but it is the Test match cricket, which is the big test of any cricketers skills. We should play more Test matches only then can we restore its prominence, he adds.

Is BCCI listening