The Indian Premier League (IPL) has offered more options and opportunities to younger players but it has also disrupted the game of cricket, feels former England captain Michael Atherton. Atherton spoke during the UK launch of former India captain Sourav Ganguly’s book ‘A century is not enough’ at the Lord’s. Atherton was joined by fellow England player Mike Gatting and former Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara for a discussion on cricket.
“Like any other industry, cricket has been disrupted. IPL has been a disruptive event, giving players options and opportunities,” Atherton said, talking about the future of Test cricket in the wake of ever rising popularity T20 Leagues, offering big bucks to the players.
“We still sell Test cricket well here in England. The grounds in India may look empty (during Test matches) but we have to bear in mind that those are much larger grounds. The game has always adapted and will continue to do so. I remain optimistic about the future,” he said.
Ganguly suggested that more day-night Tests is the “way forward”. “It is difficult for working people to spend the whole day away from work at a cricket ground,” he said. Sangakkara stressed that Test cricket needs to be “financially viable” to be able to survive in future.
“There is still great love for Test cricket. But everything evolves and moves on. We will just have to change our mindset,” he said.
Gatting added: “It is very sad that fans do not watch as many Test matches in India. But I still believe there is room for Test cricket.”
Ganguly also recalled the moment when he made his Test debut at Lord’s in 1996 against an England side led by Atherton.
“We could see this was the start of a new generation of Indian players coming through; the start of great middle order,” said Atherton.
The images of Ganguly swirling his jersey after winning the Natwest trophy at Lord’s in 2002 are still etched in the memory of the fans but when asked to recall that moment, the former India captain dismissed it, saying it was a “very hot day” in July.