x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

A test of tradition ahead for Indian cricket

The games against England in Mumbai and Kolkata will also be an indicator of Test cricket's relevance in modern-day India.

England may be the No 1 side in November when they go visiting India.
England may be the No 1 side in November when they go visiting India.

If you're an English or Australian cricket fan, you will usually have a good idea about your home season.

Australia generally play six Tests either side of Christmas, while England play six or seven between mid-May and late August. If you're Indian, you usually have no idea until the Board of Control for Cricket in India unveils its itinerary.

Last year, after the World Cup win, a tour of the Caribbean and a disastrous trip to England, India played just three home Tests, against West Indies.

In 2012-13, there will be 10, with two against New Zealand setting the stage for four-Test series against both England and Australia. After the meagre pickings of 2011, Indian fans will be spoilt for choice.

Or will they? Two of the Tests against England are to be staged in Ahmedabad and Nagpur, venues where supporters seldom bother to turn up for Test matches.

The games in Mumbai and Kolkata will also be an indicator of Test cricket's relevance in modern-day India. Over the past half decade, attendances in Kolkata have dropped steadily. The 80,000 baying fans that helped bring Steve Waugh's legendary side to its knees back in 2001 are now almost a hazy memory.

If England, who might still be ranked No 1 come November, can't bring in the numbers, especially with India's desire to avenge last year's 4-0 drubbing, then the five-day game really is in trouble.

Tests used to be scheduled around popular festivals, like Pongal in Chennai. Restoring such traditions may be a good first step to bring back the fans.

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