Kohli: India needs to have five permanent Test centres

India skipper Virat Kohli feels the rotation of state associations vis-a-vis hosting matches shouldn't come at the expense of Test cricket's popularity.

The spectator count on the first four days of the third South Africa Test reads a dismal 8,441, 8,741, 7,109 and 4,091.

The spectator count on the first four days of the third South Africa Test reads a dismal 8,441, 8,741, 7,109 and 4,091.   -  BCCI

In this day and age when cricket is driven by commerce, India captain Virat Kohli prioritises Test cricket and continues to be fascinated by the challenges of the five-day game.

"We should have five Test centres, period," was Kohli's response to a question about dwindling attendance at the JSCA Stadium for the third and final Test in Ranchi.

The spectator response and the overall conduct of the matches in new Test venues like Pune, Ranchi and Dharamsala are critical for the future of the five-day format.

However, it is not that the lack of spectator response is a new trend in international cricket. Watching Sunil Gavaskar’s innings during the India-Australia Test in Adelaide in 1985-86 on YouTube, you can see empty stands. The spectator count on the first four days projected on the screen reads a dismal 8,441, 8,741, 7,109 and 4,091.

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The BCCI president-elect Sourav Ganguly, for example, is in favour of day-night Tests, and has called it “inevitable”. Kohli, who led India to its maiden series whitewash against South Africa here on Tuesday, feels the rotation of state associations vis-a-vis hosting matches shouldn't come at the expense of Test cricket's popularity.

"Teams coming into India should know they are going to play in these five centres, that's how the pitches will be and that's the kind of crowd that will come to watch them.

"That then becomes a challenge even before the side has left the shores because when we travel overseas, we know we are playing four Tests at these four venues. We know what the pitch has to offer and that we will play in front of a full stadium, where the crowd will be right behind their team," Kohli said. 

"To keep Test cricket alive and exciting, you need five centres at max... it can't be sporadic and spread over so many places where people may or may not turn up," he said.