Test centres of gravity
RANCHI: The JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi hosted the third Test between India and South Africa, which the home team won by a huge margin on Tuesday. With the win, India also completed their first-ever clean sweep against the Proteas in Tests.
The venue will remain etched in the memories of Virat Kohli and his team for long as it produced their biggest Test victory over South Africa. The skipper was all praise for the pitch, saying Test cricket needs such surfaces where all three departments come into play. “This is a kind of pitch on which if you execute your skills convincingly, you will get the result. It’s not like it’s a batting pitch or will assist pacers. It’s just about executing your skills and you get your results,” he said after the series win.
Despite all positives and memorable moments, the venue failed to pass another test as empty stands greeted players throughout the match. In fact, Pune, which hosted the second Test, also witnessed a low turnout highlighting the apathy among fans for the longest format.
While day-night Test cricket could be an option, Kohli felt five centres should be developed to counter the waning popularity of Tests in the country. “If you want to keep Test cricket alive and exciting, I totally agree with the fact that we need five Test centres at max. It can’t be spread over so many places where people turn up or they don’t,” Kohli said.
Visakhapatnam, Pune and Ranchi hosted a Test each in this series. Each of them was hosting their second Test-ever. The venues, however, failed to attract crowds. The Indian board follows a rotation policy for allotment of games in various formats and the same must have been done while allotting matches to these three centres. Kohli, however, opined that this rotation policy should be restricted to limited-over formats and not Test cricket.
“I agree that you have state associations, rotation and giving games and all that... That is fine in T20I and ODI cricket, but for Test cricket teams coming to India should know we’re going to play at these five centres. These are the pitches we’re going to expect. These are the kind of people they’re going to come to watch, crowds...”
Citing examples of foreign countries with designated Test centres, the India skipper emphasised India should follow the same model. “That becomes a challenge when you’re leaving the shores because when we go to any place, we know we’re having four Tests at these venues. This is what the pitch is going to offer. It’s going to be a full stadium, the crowd will be behind the team. So in my opinion, absolutely, we should have five strong Test centres where the visiting team knows that this is where we’re going to play and nowhere else.”
On meeting Ganguly
Kohli was asked about BCCI president-elect Sourav Ganguly’s recent statement where he said he will meet the selectors and the India skipper to discuss MS Dhoni’s future. “I congratulated him (Ganguly). It’s great that he has become BCCI president. But he’s not spoken to me about that (MS) yet. He will get in touch with me when he has to... I’m sure I will go meet him when he tells me to.”