Test cricket: Does the oldest form of the game have a future?

Published on July 31, 2013   ·   1 Comment


It might seem odd to be contemplating the future of Test cricket in the middle of a sold-out Ashes summer.

But the undimmed appeal of five-day contests between England and Australia only highlights the wider problem in other countries.

In India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, New Zealand – and even to a certain extent Australia – crowds for Test matches are falling. Set against the growing popularity of Twenty20 cricket (particularly in India and Australia) there are concerns at the highest levels of the game that its most traditional format could die out.

For The Editors, a BBC programme which sets out to ask challenging questions, I decided to find out whether Test cricket, the longest and oldest form of the game, has a future.

If that sounds alarmist then don’t take my word for it. This is what former England captain Andrew Strauss thinks: “If we are arrogant enough to assume that Test cricket will always be there, we are sowing the seeds of our own downfall.”

But ask most fans and professional players and they will still tell you that Test cricket remains the pinnacle.

So what exactly is the problem?

On the playing side it’s a question of money. The emergence of well-funded T20 competitions like the Indian Premier League and the Big Bash in Australia has shifted the financial balance of power away from Test cricket to the shortest form of the game.

Consider Forbes’ 2012 list of the highest earning cricketers. Six of the top 10 are Indian with MS Dhoni the highest paid player in the world with earnings of $26.5m (£17.3m). The other four players in the top 10 are all Australian.

Read More: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/23494008

Readers Comments (1)
  1. Placi says:

    My conclusion is that at some point of time Cricket will go the same way as football & rugby, like the English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, FA Cup & Super Rugby and become franchise based in most if not all countries that play the game. There will be very few international matches between countries with the highlight being the World Cup – be it in the 50 overs format or the now very popular Twenty/20 format.England & Australia will perhaps ensure that the traditional Ashes series continues as long as possible but sponsors will fight shy of supporting matches that don’t bring in the crowds. TV Broadcasters & the media will call the shots and there could be multi million transfers of the top players from each country who would demand substantially high appearance fees to play in the IPL, Big Bash and other such leagues but not be available to play for their own country.Broadcasters will not agree to televise games that are played out in empty stadiums and sponsors will also be equally choosy about matches they support if they don’t get a proper return on investment. The only way forward is to attract bigger crowds at matches, but in countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and even India there is very little evidence that attendance at Test matches would ever match those seen at the shorter version of the game. Even the proposed Test Championship does not have the potential to attract spectators, since it has been already diluted by limiting the number of countries that would compete in the longer format. The spectator remains the king but money will rule the world of cricket, just like in most sports.

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