Eighty years ago, the Indian cricket team, under the captaincy of CK Nayudu, took the field at the Lord’s Cricket Ground in London for the country’s first ever Test match.
India have come a long way since 1932. In 2009, it became the highest ranked Test team in the world only to lose their domination through some poor results in England last year. The 0-4 loss in England was followed by a 0-4 shellacking in Australia.
The last 80 years have not been thickly layered with success, but there have been phases where India’s Test prowess has been the envy of the world. Had the International Cricket Council rankings existed in 1971, Ajit Wadekar’s India would have been right on top since they defeated both West Indies and England in the hosts’ backyard.
India have earned high praise for their one-day ability, but they must lead the way in providing the right kind of importance to Test cricket. It is that arm of the game which brings into focus the entire set of skills a cricketer must possess. Test cricket must be marketed better too.
India have the challenge of attracting more spectators to Test cricket. At the moment, administrators are not doing enough even as the players do not hesitate to state that Test cricket is the real thing. A few years ago, batting icon Sachin Tendulkar suggested that school kids should be welcomed free of charge at Test matches. Unfortunately, that suggestion has not been implemented entirely by the host associations in India.
The followers of the game too need to realise the pleasures the five-day game brings to the table. It is here where the role of good television commentators comes in. Nearly all commentators today are former players and they must use their knowledge and experience in telling the viewer what he/she cannot comprehend. Test cricket needs all the stakeholders of the game to survive and flourish.