Spectator interest in Test match cricket is reaching dangerous proportions in India. Both Delhi and Kolkata did not attract large crowds and the response on Day One of the third and final Test at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai was nothing near wholesome.
Sure, there will be good ticket sales if and when Sachin Tendulkar approaches his 100th international century, but it is easy to be cynical about a good crowd response in that scenario too. Although the administrators have an unenviable task of filling the stands, they cannot take things lying down. Reducing the ticket prices is only one of the solutions.
The need to attract fans to the Test match needs to be handled with some marketing acumen. In England, for example, there is a lunch time show hosted by the series' sponsors, which involves a former cricket star, who interacts with spectators and talks to them about various aspects of the game. Hundreds, if not thousands, flock this particular area at every venue and the cricket star is happy to pose for photographs and sign autographs.
If a fan is told that he has the opportunity of meeting an Ajit Agarkar or a Vinod Kambli at lunchtime, wouldn't he be attracted to the venue?
Also, administrators need to look at how much comfort they are offering spectators. There are reports that the seats of the new Wankhede Stadium are uncomfortable and too small in size. Why would a fan put himself through inconvenience when he can watch the game comfortably in the comforts of his living room?
If administrators reckon only the cricketers will bring people to the ground, they are living in a fool's paradise. More attractions for spectators over five days will create a buzz at the turnstiles. The cricketing bosses ought to give it a try.