Is the IPL one of the contributing factors to the downfall of Test cricket’s popularity?

Empty stadiums are becoming an increasingly common sight in Test matches around the world

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

Back in the day, Test cricket used to reign supreme. It used to be the held in the highest regard and ruled unopposed in the sport of cricket.

But, once ODI cricket came along, Test cricket’s power began to dwindle as people liked the idea of a shorter match with a result being guaranteed within the space of a day.

In February 2005, the first-ever Twenty20 International was played between Australia and New Zealand. That was the starting point for the demise of Test cricket’s popularity as an even shorter format was introduced. With a result being guaranteed in three to four hours, people welcomed Twenty20 cricket with open arms.

The format subsequently spread like wildfire and took every country by storm, so much so that domestic Twenty20 leagues began popping up almost overnight.

But, the one league that stands high above the rest is the Indian Premier League (IPL), which was born in 2008 and has attracted the biggest names in world cricket since then.

While there is no doubt that the IPL is a revered tournament on the cricketing calendar for all international players, it is, in my opinion, contributing to the downfall of Test cricket’s popularity.

Some people might say such a remark is nonsense, while others will nod their heads and agree. But, these comments are not baseless as there are two key reasons why the IPL is hindering the much-needed regrowth of Test cricket.

The first reason is the fact that international players are starting to forego international duty when it comes to Test series in order to keep plying their trade in the IPL.

When it comes to playing any sport, representing your country is supposed to be the crème de la crème as there is no better feeling than donning your nation’s flag over your heart.

But, for certain countries, especially the West Indies, players no longer see that as their top priority since they can make more money in a shorter span of time if they compete in the IPL.

This is a serious concern when it comes to Test cricket’s popularity as the crowds that pay their hard-earned money to watch their country live and in person want to see the best players in action. If many of the high-profile cricketers are missing, then their interest in going to Test matches or even watching the format on TV will start to decline.

The second reason is attributed to the younger and future generations. With the mind-boggling amount of money on offer in the IPL, there is no doubt that the up and coming talents in all countries will flock to the star-studded tournament rather than pull their socks up and go down the harder route by playing Test cricket.

Should they be able to secure an IPL contract, their financial worries will start to wane as they know they have a chance of securing an even bigger payday should they excel in the competition.

When it comes to Test cricket, the younger generation realise that it is much tougher as mental strength and grit is needed to get through five potentially tough days of cricket.

While many cricketers will say that there is no better feeling than winning a Test match or series due to the hours and hours of work that goes into setting up the victory, the younger and future generations are likely to take the easy way out since it could be much more lucrative financially.

All in all however, even though the IPL is an entertaining tournament that gives players a platform to express themselves and show what they have to offer against some of the biggest names in the world, Test cricket is still the ultimate format when it comes to cricket.

It’s easy for me to say why Test cricket should continue to be seen and revered as the best format in international cricket, but iconic India batsman Sachin Tendulkar sums it up to a tee.

“Test cricket is like a main course, and always will be – the other versions are like starters and desserts.”

Feature written by Bimal Mirwani

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