Kolkata: India’s maiden pink-ball match lasted a little over two days but the buzz surrounding the event proved that proper marketing is essential for the future of Test cricket, said captain Virat Kohli.
India’s board has often been accused of neglecting the longest format of the game, which has been losing fans to limited overs cricket around the world, but there was no doubt about the BCCI’s commitment to the day-night Test against Bangladesh in Kolkata.
In the build-up to the match, prominent city landmarks were illuminated in pink, ticket prices were slashed, dignitaries were invited to attend, and players spoke excitedly about the challenges of playing with the pink ball under lights.
More than 42,000 fans turned up on each of the first two days, many of them drawn by the pink-ball novelty, and Kohli said this was how Test cricket should be promoted.
“I think it is very, very crucial to market Test cricket like we do for T20 or one-day cricket,” he said after his team’s victory. “If there’s enough buzz created around Test cricket, then there will be a lot more keenness to come to the stadiums.”
Kohli suggested measures such as allowing school students to interact with players during breaks as a way to further engagement with fans.
“It should be an event where you come and experience a Test match, not just sit there and watch in hot conditions,” Kohli said. “I think it has to be more for the fans and has to be marketed well.”
The series opener in Indore also drew a big crowd but India are not scheduled to play another Test series at home until they host England in 2021.
“It has to be marketed in a certain manner whenever Test cricket comes back home. There has to be enough anticipation,” said Kohli. “The pink-ball Test is a beginning. I’m sure these will be planned more often and that buzz would be created in different parts of the country as well.”
Former captain Sourav Ganguly’s rise to BCCI president has been the catalyst behind India’s decision to embrace day-night matches and Kohli was convinced Test cricket would be a priority for India.
“We’re walking in the right direction and I think, under him, we’ll see a lot more positive changes which will be cricket-specific and priority will be given to Test cricket,” Kohli added.