BCCI president Anurag Thakur has dismissed the idea of four-day Tests, as well as the two-tier Test system, saying neither change would necessarily solve the longest format’s biggest problem: poor attendances.
“If you don’t have a foolproof format in front of you, where is it going to help the game of cricket? I think we should not even [get into] into that,” Thakur told ESPNcricinfo in Florida, on the sidelines of India’s first official series in the USA – the T20s against West Indies.
When asked if he was referring to the idea of four-day Tests or the two-tier system, Thakur said: “It is four day versus five day, it is two-tier as well.”
“We should analyse the shortcomings [of Test cricket],” he said. “Is it the paucity of time? The issue is why aren’t you getting enough crowd for a Test match? That is the basic issue.”
According to Thakur, the obstacles to Test cricket’s popularity have more to do with competition from other sports in an increasingly crowded landscape.
“Ask yourself: football, how much time does it take to finish the game? Hockey, how much time does it take? American football, rugby. Fans, on one hand, have these kind of games which are finished in two hours time at the most; cricket’s shortest format, it takes close to three, three and a half hours. So that is one reason,” Thakur said.
“Second, there is a generational gap I believe. We must look into the crowd which comes in England, Australia or in India. What is the average age who comes to watch Test cricket. India is a young country. We have a lot of youngsters. Whether they connect with T20, ODI or Test, you can’t force the fan.
“It is the fan who has to decide what he wants to see. You can give all the products, he is the best judge whether he has interest in A, B or C. So we are playing all formats. Let’s see which is the most watchable product.”
On the topic of possible day-night Test cricket in India, Thakur said that the “BCCI is not in a hurry to take any decision” and will continue carrying out trials during the ongoing Duleep Trophy. Only after the competition is complete will the board revisit the discussion on the pink ball’s suitability in local conditions.
“This is one of the tournaments where we are trying the pink ball,” Thakur said. “We’ll take the feedback after the tournament is completed. Once it is completed, BCCI can take a call in future whether pink ball is viable in Indian conditions or not, whether it will help to make Test cricket more popular.
“We have a long season at home where we are hosting New Zealand, England and Australia [and Bangladesh] for Test matches, playing 13 Test matches at home and we have already finished four [away] with West Indies. So 17 Test matches in a season is a huge, huge period. When globally most countries are not playing enough Test cricket, BCCI is sticking to it, trying to make it as popular as other formats and we’ll try our best.”