Chandigarh: Admitting that drawing spectators to the ground to watch Test matches now-a-days has become a "great challenge", BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur today said the Cricket Board was open to the idea of hosting five-day games in smaller centres in the future.
Thakur, who wants India to play more Test matches, today said the BCCI was taking various steps to promote Test cricket, including taking the traditional format of the game to the country's second tier cities.
"It's a great challenge for anyone to draw crowds for a Test match," he said while speaking to reporters along with Punjab Cricket Association joint secretary G S Walia after addressing trainees of Under-19 (Boys) Zonal Cricket Academy at Sector 16 Stadium here.
"Given the size of India, there are millions of cricket followers who still love to watch a Test match. So, I think we need to think about whether to take Test matches to smaller centres. We need to have a good mix of big and small centres," said the 40-year-old BJP MP from Hamirpur.
He also cited the example of Himachal Pradesh in this regard.
"We have tried this in Himachal Pradesh. We hosted Ranji ODI matches in smaller towns like Bilaspur and Nadaun where 7000 to 10,000 spectators came down to watch the matches. I think if you take it (Tests) to smaller cities, its going to happen," Thakur said.
Talking about the Indian Premier League, which in its eighth edition, Thakur said the high-profile Twenty20 tournament has carved its own place in minimum possible time but advised budding cricketers to keep their main focus on playing for the country.
"IPL is a domestic tournament which has got international recognition. It provides youngsters and budding players an opportunity to play under pressure situations along side some top players of the world. But nothing can substitute the honour which one gets by playing for India, one should always have that fire in the belly and passion," he said.
Asked what changes the Cricket Board was contemplating to make in the National Cricket Academy in the near future, Thakur said they want it to emerge as a Centre of Excellence, a "one-stop shop serving all needs of players, umpires, coaches and state cricket academies"
"We have tied up with Cricket Australia (CA), they have done good work in Research and Development and put money into this and they are ready to share their knowledge with us," he said.
"It will be our endeavour that in the first 2-3 years we will utilise the experience of CA to move forward."