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Phil Simmons backs Virat Kohli’s idea of marketing Test cricket

Unlike what we see in England and Australia, here in the sub-continent Test cricket is no exactly the most popular format from the point of view of crowd attendance at the venue. There will be hardly a seat empty at the stands during an ODI, T20I or and IPL fixture but in the longer version this enthusiasm goes missing drastically. However, in this regard the recently concluded day-night Test match in Kolkata witnessed a massive paradigm shift as close two lakh people went to the Eden Gardens throughout two and half days to see Virat Kohli’s men thrashing Bangladesh in that historic match.

Going into that fixture, there was a huge marketing and PR campaign on part of the Cricket Association of Bengal as well as the BCCI to encourage people to come to venue and witness the inaugural pink-ball Test match on Indian soil. And after the success the stakeholders enjoyed in Kolkata, Kohli suggested the board to promote every home Test match on a similar manner.

Now the Indian captain has found support from Phil Simmions, the former West Indies cricketer and the current coach of the Caribbean team, who watched the match sitting in his hotel room in Lucknow.

“I did watch the first day. It was exciting to see Eden Gardens full. It’s an awesome sight,” Simmons said on Tuesday [November 26]. “I think Virat hit the nail on the head when he said we have to promote Test cricket as hard as we promote T20. Even though T20 has more money involved, we have to promote it the same way. I think if that’s done, we can see a resurgence of big crowds in Test cricket anywhere you go in the world.”

However, unlike many, he seemed convinced that pink-ball matches are the way forward for cricket. “Especially day-night Test cricket, I think that is the future,” he said.

Simmions, who was talking with the media on sidelines of his team’s practice session at the Ekana stadium prior to their one-off Test match against Afghanistan which starts on Wednesday (November 27); also expressed his excitement of watching the current lot of Indian fast bowlers, who have intimidated the opponents throughout this home season with their pace, accuracy and lateral movement.

“I can’t say how long ago, but when I first came here, you would have Madan Lal opening the bowling,” Simmons said. “Now you have guys bowling at 90 miles per hour opening and your premier fast bowler [Bumrah] was injured for this Test, so you still have him to come back. It’s exciting for world cricket. Teams know now that you have to play properly on both sides – you have to have proper fast bowlers and proper spinners to beat India.

“Fast bowling from anybody is exciting, so it’s great to see that happen. Hopefully we can get back our battery of young fast bowlers to the level where we’re competing and giving people trouble,” he added further.

Sandipan Banerjee is a senior cricket journalist with experience stretching across more than a decade. Having founded a number of cricket information resources and prior experience of working in big-ticket events like ICC Cricket World Cup, IPL and ICC Champions’ Trophy; he joined the team at in 2019 to provide strategic guidance and to assume a brand ambassador role as principal correspondent. Due to Sandipan’s commitment towards the game, it’s safe to assume that if India are involved in a Test, ODI or a T20I, he’ll be there covering the match!


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