Will India as No.1 team prove the tonic for test cricket?

December 7, 2009

India’s crushing 2-0 series win over Sri Lanka to become the number one ranked test team for the first time has triggered huge celebrations across the cricket-crazy nation.

The hosts, ranked number three, leapfrogged leaders South Africa and the second-ranked Sri Lanka to become the first team other than Australia or the Proteas to head the list.

In an ideal world, the development in the game’s global commercial hub should work wonders for the classical format, overshadowed by both the limited-over formats, especially after the rise of Twenty20. India owes its current commercial clout to the shock World Cup win in 1983 which particularly turned the 50-over game into a cash cow.

The influential Indian board also successfully launched the franchise Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament in 2008.

Leading players worldwide are clear about their priority, vociferously backing tests as the ultimate challenge.

India’s consistency is reflected in the captaincy record of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, seven wins in his unbeaten 10-game tenure. The impressive win over Sri Lanka showed millions of fans still emotionally follow the fortunes of the test team.

However, India looks unlikely to cash in and the crown looks set to slip in the new year due to a lack of tests following a skewed schedule agreed by the national board. The Sri Lanka series was India’s first for seven months, since they won 1-0 in New Zealand In April.

In the next six months, their only competition will be against the bottom-ranked Bangladesh. Leading batsmen Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Vangipurappu Laxman – the last two play only tests – thus will not see much action in the twilight of their India career.

Will India’s number one ranking revive test cricket or will the long gap before the next big series kill the excitement?

PHOTO: Indian players walk back to the pavilion after winning the third test cricket match against Sri Lanka in Mumbai December 6, 2009. India won the three test cricket match series against Sri Lanka by 2-0. REUTERS/Arko Datta

3 comments

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Yeah definitely. If India keep performing well in Tests, then crowd in India would love seeing test matches. This would certainly bring relief to test cricket. However, biggest obstacle in it is the BCCI. They have to find some spare time for test cricket which currently comes after ODIs, T20s, and IPL.

Posted by TruthSeeker | Report as abusive

One of the vagaries of modern day cricket is the ridiculous schedule where player burnout is very common. Sadly for India the opposite is happening. All of this will be music to the ears of test cricket detractors, who trumpet the quicker format of Twenty20.
Perhaps now is the right time for the ICC to look at pooling test nations. Eg Top Six (India, SA, Sri Lanka, Aus, Pak and England) all play each other in short test series. The others (Kiwis, Windies, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe) do the same. Haven’t really thought this through so not sure how it would work but essentially something needs to be done! The fact India are not playing for yonks is a disgrace. There is no better sight than scrolling down the scoreboard containing Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Dhoni, Yuvraj..fantastic.

Posted by 1983Pilchard | Report as abusive

Firstly, this almost hysterical reaction to the rankings, which we are witnessing, is beyond my understanding. As to test cricket, I think it was never in the grave danger which the media makes it out to be. All the players and organisers have said it is the only true form of cricket, the lack of crowds is not any indication. It has been like this for over a decade. The reason is that the advent of TV rights and live coverage of a good quality, unlike what we were being served up by DD, has ensured adequate revenues to the boards to continue with test cricket.

My thinking is that if test cricket dies, the rest of the formats will also gradually decline. Test cricket is actually the breeding ground for younger players to take to the game gradually at the international level. It gives more opportunities than the slam bang versions. Otherwise we will see more and more one night stands, here today gone, tomorrow and no solid performances.

In fact if anything brings about a fatigue factor and sounds the death knell of the game, it will be the shorter versions. They serve a purpose definitely, but too much of it is already dwindling interest and killing the golden goose.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive