December 12, 2009

BCCI act before it’s too late


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), by requesting their South African parts to play a couple of Test matches at the expense of a few limited overs contests, have acknowledged the significance of the longest version of the game in which their own team is the best in the business.

It would have been a pity had the South Africans come all the way to India only to play One-day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals. India and South Africa occupy the first and second positions respectively in the ICC Test rankings and it would have been a great injustice for the followers of the game not to have watched them lock horns in this particular format.

The BCCI has already taken the initiative, albeit after a lot of media criticism in which they were also labeled as the killers of Test cricket. Now the ball is in the court of the Cricket South Africa (CSA) and there seems no reason why they would not meet the request of the hosts.

Some quarters had feared that the future of Test cricket was being jeopardized by the BCCI move of accommodating maximum number of ODIs and T20Is with negligible provision for Tests.

Obviously quick bucks are there for the taking in the limited overs matches but the BCCI have now been prompted to go back to the drawing room and make allowance for some Test matches as well.

Every cricket team in the world is eager to play India these days. Now it was the duty of the BCCI to strike a balance and ensure that the paying public was provided every flavour of the game.

Yes time has certainly changed and life is moving at a faster pace yet there are millions of people who derive pleasure in the real thing. Who will dispute that a Test match is the ‘real thing’ in cricket.

It had looked surprising in the first place why the BCCI functionaries were showing so much disrespect to Test cricket because India is one country that possesses the largest number of passionate fans. They constitute the biggest market for cricket that India have become of late.

Probably the movers and the shakers in the BCCI, already the richest and the most influential cricket board, wanted to cash in on the growing popularity of the T20 matches that caught the imagination of the Indian public when their team won the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007.

The BCCI should, however, not have lost sight of the fact that they do have a responsibility to take care of the people who are their actual strength. It are the big crowds at the grounds and the millions of television viewers sitting at home who have made them the most sought after entity. It’s payback time.

By having performed consistently in the limited opportunities that came their way, India have climbed to the top rankings in Test cricket. The Indian fans in particular would like to watch their heroes in action in the five-day games on a more regular basis.

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