Test Cricket is not just the traditional but the most challenging format as well. A test match measures the potential, capability, and strength of a player to withstand firmly on the ground for a longer time. The bowlers and fielders have to make a strategy to pressurize the batsman and get their wicket. It is the original version of cricket, that has been played for centuries all across the globe. However, change is the rule of nature. It cannot be avoided. Cricket has advanced during the past decades and new formats getting huge popularity. At this stage, the test format is lagging.
Issues behind the decline of test cricket
There are various reasons behind this decline in test cricket. Some major issues are:
1. Lack of public interest in test cricket
Spectators in the stadium and television viewers are the two basic requirements to make revenue from the sport. However, there is a huge difference between the past and present audience. In 2000, television with few channels was the only recreational way for people. Now, we got thousands of channels and mobile phones in our pockets. The whole entertainment is with us all day. We can search for anything with just a single click.
Today’s young generation doesn’t have much time. They can’t dedicate 5 days to a single test cricket match. They prefer ODI’s and 20/20 instead of Test matches. This lack of public interest affects the revenue of cricket boards as well as the income of players. Hence, they also prefer to go with the audience.
2. Popularity of 20/20 leagues.
2020 matches are a thrilling and heart-pounding experience for cricket fans. This looks like, do or die scenario within limited overs. In this format, players are in an aggressive mood instead of just defending their wickets. They have to take quick measures to win the game.
Over time, cricket leagues are progressing. Now, 5 major leagues such as: Big bash, PSL and IPL are organized globally. The players earn a handsome income by participating in these leagues. So, they prefer 20 overs instead of long 5 days match and this is what a busy audience needs. They are preferring to spend a few action-packed hours for a complete game instead of patiently watching a single match for 5 days.
3. Test cricket requires more effort
Test cricket is far more challenging for the players as compared to other formats. The player is tested mentally and physically in these matches. If a player wants to be popular in this format. He has to develop more stamina, power, and technique to save his wicket for a long period. It is an exhausting experience for batsmen, bowlers, and fielders. While, on the other hand, they look at other formats with less effort and more money plus fame. So, they choose to go with the limited overs of the game.
According to an cricket analyst and writer Bharat Sundaresan:
“In the next five to 10 years, Test cricket will mainly be played by India, England and Australia”
Still, in Australia and England, the stadiums are full. But most of the spectators are above 40 years of age. While in other countries, organizers are thinking to construct stadiums near rural areas. Because in urban areas, people don’t have much time for test matches. In UAE, the stadiums are almost empty during the test series. Because most of the public living in UAE is working class. They can’t manage to spend 5 consecutive days for a match.
Although the popularity has decreased in the past decade but, still test format is not going anywhere. Cricket boards and players should take immediate measures and bring new features in test cricket to make it more entertaining for the audience. They can reduce the days and select only weekends for test matches. Moreover, they can think about organizing these matches in those countries and areas where the audience is taking more interest. Some think tanks can join together to bring the finest strategies to revive this most vital and original form of cricket.