Saturday, February 20, 2010


South Africa tried very hard to pull off an England, and Hashim Amla tried to be the Paul Collingwood. In the end, South Africa choked when the No. 1 ranking was up for grabs. And Amla ended up pulling off an Andrew Strauss (check my previous blog).

I have already blogged a lot about my joy in watching the crowd at Eden Gardens. I read Sidharth Monga's article of Cricinfo - The rot in rotation yesterday, and I must say that it made a lot of sense. I'll quote a bit of what he said:

"In a recent piece in the Hindu, S Venkataraghvan, the former India offspinner, wrote about the Pongal Test in Chennai. "In Madras, this festival [traditionally in mid-January] used to be synonymous with Test cricket at Chepauk," he wrote. "Schedules were carefully drawn so that a Test match was played at Chepauk during the season."

That is like the Boxing Day and New Year's Tests in Australia and South Africa, annual events that people plan for from months ahead. The last time Chennai saw a Pongal Test, though, was in 1988, and there have been only 10 Tests there since. With nine venues and only five or six home Tests a year, it is impossible to develop such Test culture."

India has ten Test venues (alphabetically, no favouritism involved) -
1. Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai
2. Eden Gardens, Kolkata
3. Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium, New Delhi
4. Green Park Stadium, Kanpur
5. M.A. Chidambaram Stadium (Chepauk), Chennai
6. M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
7. PCA Stadium, Mohali
8. Sardar Patel Stadium (Motera), Ahmedabad
9. VCA Stadium (Jamtha), Nagpur
10. Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai (temporarily unavailable due to renovation)

The most disturbing crowd attendances in Test cricket have been at Mohali, Ahmedabad and Nagpur (as stated by Sidharth Monga). And the cities where crowd has been the most disturbing for the visiting team are Kolkata and Chennai.

India plays about 5-6 Tests at home every year. I would suggest that 2 of these are awarded to Kolkata and Chennai every year. In fact, it should be so managed that like the Boxing Test (MCG) and New Year Test (SCG) tradition, Kolkata and Chennai should have a tradition of their own. In the long run, it will help prospective spectators plan their holiday schedules around it. They won't have to wait for BCCI to release the tour itinerary in order to confirm their own travel plans if they are travelling from other cities to watch these Tests.

The remaining home Tests should be awarded on the basis of a ranking system. This ranking should consider factors like last Test official crowd attendance and pitch preparation. Even domestic crowd attendance can be considered. The Ranji Trophy Final and Duleep Trophy Final showed very encouraging signs. And it's high time that Hyderabad's Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium is inducted into the list of India's Test venues.

And why only in India - may be, ICC could create a ranking system for Test grounds based on various such parameters. Then, a news flash in the future might read: India climb to No. 1 in Test Team Rankings and Eden Gardens climbs to No. 1 in Test Venue Rankings.

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