Test cricket gets fans' thumbs-up

Test cricket gets fans' thumbs-up

Shane Warne

If you thought Test cricket is dying, then think again. In a survey conducted by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) an overwhelming 86 percent of fans have said they prefer watching Tests compared to limited-overs cricket. MCC announced this on Saturday at the conclusion of its two-day meeting here, alleying fears that the traditional format of the game was on the brink of extinction.

It may be recalled that none other than ICC president Shashank Manohar had recently claimed that the longest format of the game was dying, a remark that didn’t go down well with many observers.

More than 13,000 fans across 100 countries participated in the MCC survey titled the ‘MCC Test Cricket survey.’

The survey found that an average of 86 percent of the participants said five-day cricket remained their “preferred” format followed by one-day internationals, Twenty20 Internationals and domestic T20s.

“Overwhelmingly, Test cricket came out as the format that interests fans the most, regardless of country supported or age,” the MCC said in a release.

“Responders to the MCC Test cricket survey still consider the Test format to be the pinnacle of cricket and the favourite format of cricket to attend, follow and watch, with respondents describing the game as the “ultimate” form of cricket.”

Former England captain Mike Gatting, who is chairman of the MCC World Cricket committee, said: "Virat (Kohli) has expressed his commitment to maintaining the position of Test cricket at the top of the sport, while off the back of South Africa's one-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka Faf (du Plessis) insisted such matches demonstrateTest cricket is still the number one format. When you have high-profile leaders like Virat and Faf being part of hugely exciting series, it shows what Test cricket can be," Gatting said.

Among other key findings, the MCC said over half of the respondents wanted to watch Test cricket regularly but would want some improvements such as addressing the cost and availability of tickets, increasing access to Test cricket on free-to-air TV and including half-day tickets to encourage families to attend.

Last year, the ICC had conducted another survey, which said that cricket had more than a billion fans globally, and close to 70 per cent (of 19,000 participants) supported Test cricket.

The MCC World Cricket committee includes former cricketers of eminence like Sourav Ganguly, Brendon McCullum, Ricky Ponting, Kumar Sangakkara and newest entrant, Shane Warne.

The MCC also unanimously backed the inclusion of women’s T20 competition in the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The next edition of the Games will be held in Birmingham and organisers are to announce this year whether cricket will get a place for the first time since 1998.

Warne attended his first Marylebone Cricket Club World Cricket committee meeting after being elected to the committee last year.

“It’s a hugely exciting time for women’s cricket after two great World Cups in two years and it’s up to the cricket world and Commonwealth Games Federation to build on that momentum and bring cricket into multi-sport games,” the former Australian leg-spinning great said.

“What’s more, including women’s T20 in the Commonwealth Games will demonstrate that the sport of cricket is inclusive, dynamic and with plenty of opportunities for growth,” Warne added.


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