James Sutherland Feels that the Value of Test Cricket is Plummeting Fast
Cricket Australia’s Chief Executive James Sutherland went on to reveal that how three hours of a Twenty20 match is worth as much in Indian Television broadcasters as five days of a Test match, a sad market reality which has affected the longest and the most traditional format of the game immensely.
Sutherland while interacting with Grade Cricketer Podcast. Sutherland said that “alarm bells” were ringing for Test cricket all around the world and in spite of this a sell-out crowd is expected for the upcoming Malegan Ashes scheduled to begin from 23rd November. The ICC approved the plans for a World Test Championship to begin in 2019 but Sutherland stated that the five-day game’s value was giving major headaches around the cricketing future.
“In many ways, there’s so much doubt about Test cricket and its future I think and in some parts of the world, it really is in a desperate state. That’s partly because it’s just not commercially viable,” he said when asked how he saw Test cricket looking in 15 years’ time. “There are some really significant warning signals in some parts of the world.
“As a starting point if you go to India, the country where there is supposedly the most lucrative commercial market, the current valuations on a Test match, five days of Test cricket, is exactly the same as the valuation on a three-hour Twenty20 international match. That’s a perspective on what the market in the biggest country in the cricketing world sees as the value of Test cricket, and that has a significant flow-on impact to other countries.
“So the alarm bells are ringing for Test cricket and that’s one of the reasons why I think this context around Test cricket is so important with this league championship. In 15 years’ time I sincerely hope that this league will create extra relevance and drive and importance for Test cricket, ideally the championship has significant incentives for countries and players to stay involved in Test cricket, and the rewards and recognition from that will also be seen and reflected in fans coming and continuing to stay connected to the game.”
Sutherland has earlier suggested for day-night Tests to have more of their span played at a time when audiences are attracted more both in the stadium and in front of the television sets. He also suggested for the enhancement of the preparation of pitches which should be bowler-friendly which will balance the battle between bat and ball in a game which is largely dominated by batsmen, especially in the limited overs format.
“Money is basically a function of fan interest and support and there’s a lot of romantic connection to Test cricket and rightly so,” he said. “But Test cricket has to remain relevant and contemporary for the modern-day fan and I think it’s challenged by the fact there are two other forms of the game that are alternatives.
“So context and relevance is particularly important. I’m not saying there’s any silver bullet solution so I’m not suggesting it’s that, but it’s another reason why we’ve been very strong in trying to introduce day-night Test cricket to time shift it into more available hours for fans to engage with cricket, and I think there are other things that need to be looked at, including pitches to ensure there is a better balance between bat and ball.
“What I’m talking about there is actually giving more advantage to the bowler in Test cricket to make the game more interesting, because the one-day game and T20 game in terms of pitches and conditions heavily favour the batsmen. I think to even that up a little bit for the bowler would make for more compelling Test cricket.”