Since last two years there is lot of concern spread among the cricket fraternity and media about the survival of test cricket which is also know as purest form of cricket. Cricket experts feel test cricket is losing its popularity and too an extent they are correct as well because spectators are not turning up for the test matches at the venues where it is played. But I must say still people love test cricket and there is audience which watch the test cricket as well but on television and on Internet. So it is too early to say that test cricket is vanishing. According to me purest form of cricket is still test cricket, only thing require is to promote this format of the game aggressively and intelligently.
The first officially recognized Test match commenced on 15 March 1877, contested by England and Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground(MCG), where Australia won by 45 runs. England won the second ever match (also at the MCG) by four wickets, thus drawing the series 1–1. From this first test series in 1877, more than 2000 test matches have been played in a period spanning over a century, so it is not correct to say that test cricket is vanishing. It has survived for more than century which itself shows that people love the longer format of cricket.
It's hard to believe that Test cricket is in trouble, especially as India and England play out the first of their clashes to be the top-ranked Test nation in front of packed stands at Lord's. But the possible demise of the sport's oldest, most testing, most complex and most loved format has been a talking point for some time. Ongoing series between India and West Indies is drawing very few people to the venue but one has to remember that West Indies is not the same team as it was in 70s and 80s. So lack of contest is solely responsible for less crowd. I think BCCI must take test cricket out of the metros and play it at smaller venues where till date people have been deprived of live test cricket. Live test cricket will definitely become novelty for the people of smaller cities and will definitely go and watch the test match and this way it will get more popular and its reach will become more wider.
As International Cricket Council Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat pointed out last week, Test cricket has never been marketed as aggressively or cohesively as ODIs and T20s. That's partly because, with its endless bilateral series, the only outcome of which is to move up or down a ranking decided by an complex mathematical formula. Test cricket lacks the sort of focal point provided by the World Cup or World Twenty20. The solution is the World Test Championship, recently confirmed for England in 2013, where the four top-ranked teams at the time, right now, it would be India, South Africa, England and Sri Lanka will battle it out to be the first ever official champion of Test cricket.
It's a good idea, but cricket has never done anything like this before and inevitably there are complications. One is that the sport would have three different world title-holders but then, with the rankings, it sort of does already. A bigger problem is that the Test format has never lent itself to knock-out competitions as it involves a lot of draws, and obviously people don't want joint world champions, and audience certainly don’t entertain drawn semifinal. But I think for semi-finals rules can be changed and which every team scores more runs in entire test match must be declared winner and this way draw can be avoided. Same rule can be applied for the final as well.
Timeless test match is also an good option to fetch the result and I think, the way batsmen play aggressive cricket, timeless test will not last long more than 6 days. So timeless test is also a very good option to be looked at. Apart from this audience must be treated like VIPs at the venues and ticket rates must be slashed, so that common man can afford it. I think creating picnic like atmosphere at ground will certainly popularise the test cricket. I must say test cricket is still the best format and recently we witnessed one of the best test match of this decade between South Africa and Australia at Capetown which eventually won by South Africa even after conceding the lead of 188 runs and lot of spectators thronged to ground to watch this interesting test match, so it is really hard to believe that test cricket is vanishing. If it is played between two competitive sides than it will certainly attract the crowds to the venue.
I think ICC also have to take initiative in promoting its associate countries to play test cricket. According to me, ICC have to make a pool of 8 team each. One pool will have ICC ranked Top 8 team and another pool will have ICC ranked Bottom 8 teams. ICC have to promote 6 good associate nations like Ireland, Netherlands, etc. to play test cricket. This will definitely increase the interest among the people of associate nations in test cricket.
The team which tops the Bottom 8 group over the period of one year will automatically qualify for the Top 8 group and team which ends last in Top 8 group will automatically gets demoted to the Bottom 8 group. This fear and happiness of going up and down in the pool will certainly increase the competitiveness and quality of test cricket as Bottom 8 group teams will look to get promotion and Top 8 group teams will certainly try to avoid the demotion and this will definitely make the spectator happy. test cricket will get more teams with this formula and become very exciting as well.
So there is way forward for test cricket and I am sure test cricket will never die.As a cricket lover I don’t want it to die, no matter any number of shorter formats introduced, test cricket will always remain closer to my heart.