ICC concerned about vanishing crowds during Test matches

October 18th, 2008 - 7:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Sachin TendulkarMohali, Oct 18 (IANS) Empty stands and thin crowds have forced the International Cricket Council (ICC) to mull over the dwindling popularity of Test cricket.ICC chief executive office (CEO) Haroon Lorgat accepted that the world body was concerned about the decline in popularity of Test matches after he saw batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar create history by becoming the highest run scorer in front of near empty stands at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium during the ongoing Test against Australia.

“I came a little late (Friday) and could not see Tendulkar go past Lara but I saw him passing that 12,000-mark. The empty stands are a matter of real concern. All of us who came here were concerned at the lack of spectators and this is something we have to look into because we need to promote and protect this form of the game,” a worried Lorgat told reporters here Saturday.

“In Bangalore, we had good crowd but we are disappointed by what we saw here.”

Lorgat went on to add that it was a challenge for the world body and its members to bring back crowds to fill stands during the five-day games.

“It’s a challenge for us, no doubt about that. Of course there is great attraction for the short forms but it’s a challenge for us, administrators and member boards to convert that attraction towards Tests,” he said.

He also said that the sanctity of Test cricket cannot be compromised at any cost.

On the issue of the Sri Lanka-England Test series which clashes with the second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Lorgat said: “It’s difficult to speculate on the England-Sri Lanka series when a series of discussions are on. I think regardless of that, all members respect Test cricket’s primacy.”

“We still have some time before the series and the issue is being dealt with by both the boards. I’m sure BCCI would also support them and everyone would ensure the primacy of Test cricket,” he added.

Asked if a window for IPL would prevent such crisis, Lorgat said: “We have not yet discussed that. We are waiting to see how it unfolds…I suspect it will be discussed when a complete review of the Future Tours Programme comes up for discussion.”

The ICC CEO also ruled out cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics in immediate future due to the cramped calendar.

“We are already a member of the International Olympic Committee and there is a strong view in favour of cricket’s inclusion in Olympics, as well as efforts to resist that because of its possible impact on the calendar. Though there is a move to get the Twenty20 format in Olympics, I think it would be a challenge to reschedule the calendar,” he said.

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