NEW DELHI, Feb 2: With attendance dwindling at major Test match venues across the country, some BCCI working committee members are batting in favour of staging Tests in smaller centres, a formula which seems to have worked with One–day Internationals.
According to sources, a proposal to this effect is already with the BCCI, with Rajkot and Cuttack being proposed as additional Test venues. Some BCCI members strongly feel two more venues should also be added to the proposed list, while others in the working committee want the number of Test venues to be increased from 10 to at least 15.
“The attendance in Test matches at bigger venues hasn’t been great in recent days and so it’s important to take Test cricket to smaller centres in future,” a top BCCI official told.
Currently, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Mohali, Kanpur, Nagpur, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad host Test matches on a rotation basis. In recent times, centres like Rajkot, Ranchi, Indore, Cuttack, Jaipur, Kochi, Pune and even Dharamshala have successfully hosted ODIs and attracted large crowds.
“There is no reason to believe that these venues can’t stage Test matches too. Enthusiasm is high among fans in smaller centres and they still love their cricket,” a BCCI official said.
Some also cited the example of the ongoing ICC Women’s World Cup, saying, “The opening match of the tournament between India and the West Indies had around 100 to 200 spectators at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai. But on Friday, the match between Pakistan and Australia was witnessed by 4,000 spectators in Cuttack. This is not men’s cricket but one can still see the enthusiasm.”
However, some members in the BCCI feel Test match attendances at smaller venues will dwindle once the novelty factor wears off. There are concerns over pitch preparation, proper hotels and flight services too.
There is also the issue of some venues not owning their own stadium, with the grounds being on lease from the state government. This is been a hindrance during the IPL. “All these factors will have to be taken into consideration before hosting Test matches in smaller centers,” a source said. Agencies