After beating South Africa in the three-match home series, India captain Virat Kohli had called for permanent Test centres following the England and Australia model. Now he is looking at the longer format as an interactive affair, as an event of sorts.
“I think it is very crucial to market Test cricket like we do with T20 and ODI cricket. It is not only the job of the players, it spreads out to the management and the cricket board, the broadcasters as to how you portray a particular product to the people. If you create excitement only around T20 and not so much about Test cricket, a certain template is established in the psyche of the fan.
“I am a big fan of having more interactive areas for people. Maybe a play area for kids, school children could interact with Team India players at lunch, be on the field play with them like we see in other countries,” Kohli suggested the idea after beating Bangladesh by an innings and 46 runs inside three days of the pink ball Test.
The day-night fixture, however, had a good turnout of 50,000+ spectators cheering from the stands. But that, perhaps, is a one-off thing in India at the moment. As Test playing nations are slipping in the pecking order, the intensity is lacking. And not all Tests will be pink.
To make it count from here on, Kohli batted for making a Test match “an experience”.
“All these things [interactive parks] will add to it. It should be an event to come and experience cricket and not just sit there and watch in hot conditions. There has to be more for the fans. Test cricket has sessions when not much is happening. In limited-overs, people are already anticipating slam bang cricket,” Kohli spoke his mind.
The Gabba at Brisbane (Australia) has a pool deck for the fans. The day-night Test against Pakistan three years ago marked its debut. Olympic swimmer Stephanie Rice acted as the pool’s ambassador.
Even the Kengsington Oval at Bridgetown in the West Indies flaunts a giant pool. A pool party is usually on during a cricket match.
Most of the grounds outside India also allow beer. In fact, there would no Ashes if there was no beer. The movements are restricted in this part of the world as the spectators are emotional. Past incidents of crowd outrage has snatched that freedom to an extent, but this is the right time for a change.
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