This is a rebuttal to a passionate, if somewhat over-the-top criticism of the idea of playing test cricket in a specific few venues in India, and selecting the others for One-Dayers and T20; in the fine blog Bored Cricket Crazy Indians. The disclaimer: I have visited the blog a few times, and have quite liked it, especially the ‘Player Profile’, which is hilarious. This post is aimed at the arguments, not the person behind them.
Rebuttal 1: Transformers, Sofia Copolla and Percentage Capacity Utilization:
‘Lost in Translation’ is an excellent movie. ‘Transformers’ is not so much so. Now, let’s hear it from the bean counters.
Here’s the truth. Test cricket is not instant gratification. It is not paisa-vasool in the normal sense of the term. No sporting event that lasts for more than 3 days can be for the entire duration (if you exclude the World Cup Football of course). There are ebbs and flows, moments of great excitement and moments of intense boredom. Indeed, there could be days of intense boredom.
Thus, stadiums will hardly ever be filled to the rafters for entire test matches (while they will be for One-dayers and T20s, you know that if you stick on through the day, you will go home entertained. Or at least have a result, reason enough to celebrate an India win or feel sad for a loss). Test cricket, is a different animal; a form of entertainment that is not based so much on the end result as capturing the moments within the game. Subtle. ‘Lost in Translation’-esque.
Stadiums are hardly ever filled to the rafters in India, nor anywhere else in the world for test matches. But that’s fine, isn’t it? It’s not about the percentage capacity utilization of a stadium that should decide whether the stadium should stage a test match. It’s something a little more subtle than that.
I have nothing against Motera. But Srinath’s 6/21 does not quite have the making of a stadium as much as a standing ovation to Pakistan, the dreaded enemy, after they have vanquished India even after Sachin’s masterpiece. Gavaskar’s 10,000th run does not make a stadium as much as an all-stadium farewell to Asif Iqbal, a minor cricketing figure in the larger scheme of things, but who was taken to heart by a people from another nation. Performances give a stadium its reputation, the fans give a stadium its heritage. Chelsea, for all its wins, will not be Liverpool yet.
Again, it’s a subtle thing. And percentage capacity utilization has nothing to do with it.
(Disclaimer 2: I do not know much about crowd participation in Motera, it might well have been impressive, it certainly has not been highlighted enough to have built a reputation for the stadium. I’ve never seen a game there, you can replace Motera with Mohali or Barabati)
Rebuttal 2: Bharat Bhagya Vidhaata?
There are around 10 major stadiums in India.
Four of them – namely Eden, Chinnaswamy, Chepauk Chidambaram and Wankhede, are in big cities with ideal locations.
The others, as the article suggests, are not. Far away from the heart of the city, with rudimentary transport facilities, they would certainly constitute a bit of a stretch for the casual cricket fan, when he/she knows that there is a good possibility that this would be a rain-curtailed 40-over day with the score progressing by 78 runs for the loss of a wicket. It would not quite be that dreary, why, it wouldn’t be dreary at all for the instant gratification seekers going for a One-dayer, mind you. 40 overs? Great, the One-dayer will be a 20-over thing then! Will they play Yusuf Pathan for Rohit Sharma? Who will open? Will India win? Match on!
But fair enough. Some cities are in a position of advantage in terms of stadium location, over others. What to do with that? Well, dear sir, you can do nothing. We can do nothing.
Know what? It’s not the BCCI who decides where in a city the cricket stadium is built. It is the city’s municipal authority, the political who’s who that take the decision. The BCCI, ahem, does not rule the country yet… but you never know that might change.
And now that a stadium is already made, it is the decision of that municipal authority if they can live with this white elephant and invest tons and tons of money to build another stadium in the heart of the city, such that it can be utilized for five days, every two years, for a test match. The one-dayers and T20s will not be affected, they are fairly paisa-vasool, and the crowds will still flock, be the stadium 20km outside city limits.
Can we do anything about it? Nope.
Rebuttal 3: A working class hero is something to be…
Do you remember, sir, whose comment led to this sudden outpouring of ‘save test cricket via the Eden, Chinnaswamy, Chidambaram and Wankhede’ wailing from the media? Dhoni’s, and he is the antithesis of elitism. He is more small-town than I am (I hail from a smaller town than he does, however). And ask me if I would take your idea against that of this admirable, straight-speaking, working class hero, who is the captain of our Cricket team. Oh sir, you never had a chance, did you?
Un-rebuttal 4: One day is better than five.
Cannot agree more with your stand against 5-day passes. I could only go for the third day of the match. I do not think that there would ever be a moment in my cricket-watching life that will come near the experience. And this is verbatim from a facebook comment.
Perfection, is a rare thing, guys. That day, Sachin was flawless.