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Feeble Indians reflect ill health of Tests: Boycott

Calcutta: Former England captain Geoffrey Boycott has lamented the decline of the standards of Test cricket in his column for The Daily Telegraph.

Though he is happy with the rise of the England team to the top of the rankings, Boycott says that the lack of genuine competition dilutes the achievement to some extent.

“I am thrilled and delighted by the England team’s performances this summer. But it is a shame that they have risen to No. 1 in the world in an era when other countries’ Test teams are declining,” Boycott wrote.

“England can only play and beat what is put in front of them. It's not their fault that others are failing to match their high standards. But the timing is unfortunate for two reasons.

First, because testing yourselves against powerful opposition is more fun than lording it over a bunch of inadequate rivals. Secondly, and more importantly, every hammering that England inflict on this feeble Indian side is deepening the problems of the world game,” he explained. Boycott is also of the view that given the might of the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the volume of cricket fans in India, the game will suffer if Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men put up suck lacklustre performances.

“India’s financial might is the biggest thing cricket has going for it, from a business point of view, and everyone will suffer if their spectators become disillusioned. India are the paymasters of cricket. Every time their Board auctions a TV rights package, at least five broadcasters bid. And those same broadcasters provide vital funding for other countries when India tour abroad. So if India sneezes, the whole world catches a cold,” Boycott said.

Worried about the future of Test cricket, Boycott wrote: “I am worried about the long-term future of Test matches. When you look at the sort of cricket most teams are playing, and the vast acres of empty seats, you have to say that the game is in crisis.”

“The England team play to full houses, despite expensive ticket prices, so the ECB makes well over 1 million from each Test. And when you turn on the TV to watch the winter tours, the grounds always seem to be healthily populated.

“Yet those pictures beamed back from Cape Town or Bridgetown or Colombo are deceptive, because England have a regular overseas following of 8-10,000 fans,” he added.

He also blamed the rise of Twenty20s for the dip in quality in Tests. “This decline in Test attendance has been going on for years, but it has been accelerated by the rise of Twenty20. The five-day game is losing out to its upstart younger brother, and it is not just the fans who are affected. Young players see the riches on offer, the excitement of the spectacle, and dream of a 20-over career,” Boycott said.

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