Ahead of the historic day-night Test starting in Kolkata from November 22, Former India captain and National Cricket Academy chief Rahul Dravid has voiced his support for the usage of pink balls, but still believes that it won’t be enough to bring the crowd back into the stadiums to watch Test cricket.
The entire city of Kolkata, including Eden Gardens, has been painted pink ahead of the second Test against Bangladesh with the tickets for the first three days sold out. Making waves with this innovation, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly believes that the five-day cricket “needed rejuvenation” to revive interest in the game’s traditional format. His former teammate, Dravid, though believes more remains to be done.
“It is not the only solution to rejuvenate Test cricket, but it is one of the things we need to do. If only we are able to control dew, the pink ball Test can become an annual feature in India,” said Dravid as quoted by The Economic Times.
“You make it tough for the bowlers when the ball gets wet and takes the swing away. It (pink ball) is a novelty that will attract people to the stadium and must be tried. But basic things like toilets, seating, car parking need to be looked into too, as these are things that will draw,” said Dravid.
The 46-year-old also spoke about the development in the internet which has led to spectators watching matches at home on their mobile phones and not feeling the need to come to stadiums.
“When we say there were 1,00,000 people at the Eden Gardens in 2001, we are missing the point. At that time, there was no HD television that could guarantee you a better experience at home, there was no cricket on mobile, and if you wanted to catch the action, you had to make it to the ground,” he said.
Dravid also advocated for the need of a Test cricket calendar like Australia and England so that fans can plan their visits to the stadiums better.
“Things are different now and it is important we accept the ground reality. Yes, you can argue that the Ashes are always full and that Test cricket is in good health in England and Australia, but that’s because they have a Test cricket calendar and we don’t.”
“People can plan for a Boxing Day Test in December and a Lord’s Test in July a year ahead. We need this to happen in Indian cricket. Also, we need better facilities at stadiums, for fan engagement is extremely necessary to bring crowds back to the game,” he concluded.