In a die-hard cricket loving country, the stadiums that used to be buzzing with fans are now running empty especially in metros. This have been the scene for the last couple of years and it is worrying the cricket authorities. This concern was raised to Indian stalwarts in cricket, Rahul Dravid and Harbhajan Singh at the National University of Singapore. The university’s Institute of South Asian Studies organised the event and over 250 cricket fans and sports journalists attended it with great enthusiasm. Boria Majumdar, the moderator of the programme asked the cricketers on the dais, how will cricket generate enthusiasm among the fans to repopulate the empty stadiums?
Harbhajan Singh made a good observation about this burning question, he replied to Majumdar, “Take the game to smaller places like Amritsar or Bhopal, these places will always be full.” – as mentioned on Livemint. When matches are held in tier two and three cities, the tickets are sold out and the stadiums are full. However, that is not the case in bigger cities.
Rahul Dravid agreed with Majumdar that it is tough to draw fans to the stadium and watch the match live. He retorted to the question, “We might never get those crowds, but we can improve numbers.” He also said that the high-definition television has changed the viewing experience, and it is convenient to enjoy watch the match at home.
Dravid suggested that the experience for the fans should be revamped and recommended upgrading the toilets and parking lots at the stadiums. Plus, incorporating additional competitive wickets to draw cricket fans to watch live cricket at the stadium. Besides these suggestions, Singh and Dravid proposed to get all the players to engage in lot more Test matches; but there is a challenge with it. Dravid said that there are cricketers who have other issues, he said, “(They may) have economic issues with short career span, so they would maximise their time by playing big games”. Even though they will want to play Test matches.
The panelists unanimously supported the introduction of the pink ball in Test matches. This move has resulted in sold out match at Eden Garden. Sourav Ganguly has earlier told Times of India, “You can’t have greats of the Indian cricket play in front of empty stands. And here you will have a full house for the first three days”. He is making decisions that are revamping the cricket scene in India. Cricket in India is at an interesting stage where there are number of tournaments held often, but will it draw people to the stands?