India is a cricket-mad nation and there are no second thoughts about it. But what fuelled that madness? The Indian team winning the ultimate title, the ODI World Cup in 1983 under Kapil Dev fuelled the love for the game among the fans back in the country. The sight of an Indian captain lifting the biggest prize at the Lord’s is still one of the most iconic moments in the history of the game. But after four decades, when franchise cricket has totally taken over, is that image still the best sight for Indian cricket fans?
The answer will not be clear if taken overall, because different age groups will answer differently. For fans who are in their 30s, it will be a straightforward pick but modern-day fans may or may not do that. The simple reason is the growth of the Indian Premier League (IPL) globally. IPL is the biggest T20 league in the world and this is seen as a bigger achievement than India winning a World Test Championship title.
The number of Indian cricket fans who follow IPL is way more than the number of followers of Test cricket in the country. The number of fans in the stadium during an IPL match and a Test match just adds salt to the wounds. Former England all-rounder Ian Botham has pointed out the same thing and has claimed that Indian cricket fans won’t watch Test cricket because it is all IPL here. He also raised a question on the longevity of this trend.
“You go to India now and they won’t watch Test cricket. It’s all IPL. They earn big money and it sounds great now, but how long do they think this is going to last? Test cricket has been around for 100 years plus, it’s not going to go anywhere. And if we do lose Test cricket, then we’ll lose cricket as we know it. It will become meaningless. To play a Test match is what every player should want to do,” said Ian Botham during an interaction with Mirror Sport.
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Botham also claimed that the fans back in England still consider Test cricket as the supreme format and the tickets selling months before a big series like Ashes just testifies to the fact. “We’re lucky in England, all the Tests are probably sold out by now for The Ashes, certainly the first four days anyway. They don’t get that anywhere else in the world. In Australia, if England are playing you’ll probably get 75-80,000 on Boxing Day. Most grounds in Test cricket wouldn’t get that in a season,” said Botham.