Test cricket remains as strong as ever; has ‘robust future’: MCC Survey

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The Marylebone Cricket Club’s Cricket Committee has announced a positive future for Test cricket after reviewing results from the MCC Test Cricket Survey.

The MCC Cricket Committee has met in Bengaluru to discussions on current key issues faced by the game.

The survey included 13,000 responders from more than 100 countries with the majority of responses supporting England, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka. Overwhelmingly, Test cricket came out as the format that interests fans the most, regardless of the country supported or age.

An average of 86% of the responders placed Test cricket as their preferred format to watch, follow and support over One-Day Internationals, T20 Internationals and domestic T20 matches, MCC has stated in a write-up on its official website.

Former Sri Lankan captain and record-holding wicketkeeper batsman Kumar Sangakkara, who has sat on the MCC World Cricket committee since 2012, said: “Test cricket has had the most incredible year and that has contributed to the strong support for Test cricket.

“With superstars like Virat Kohli leading India to a first-ever Test series win in Australia and winning three ICC awards, including 2018 Cricketer of the Year, there’s a real opportunity – and responsibility – for us all to cement the future of our superb longer form.

“And great Test series like the Windies’ win over England and Sri Lanka’s win in South Africa show there’s huge competition amongst the top countries at the moment and it makes for exciting competition. It is brilliant news fans are backing the great cricket being played the world over.”

The results of the survey supported the findings of the ICC’s first global market research survey, which were announced last year. The ICC found close to 70% of the 19,000 global cricket fans interviewed are interested in Test cricket – with 86% of fans in England and Wales showing interest in the format, more than any other nation.

Responders to the MCC Test cricket survey still consider the Test format to be the pinnacle of cricket and the favourite format of cricket to attend, follow and watch, with respondents describing the game as the “ultimate” form of cricket.

While over 50% of responders saying they watch every Test match they can, the survey also highlighted some of the key challenges in increasing the attendances at and support of Test cricket, including:

  • Addressing the cost and availability of tickets to enable more fans to attend
  • Increasing access to Test cricket on free-to-air TV
  • Including half-day tickets to encourage families to attend.

MCC World Cricket committee chairman Mike Gatting said: “It is important we listen to cricket fans to continue to improve their experience of Test match cricket and address their concerns. We want to see Test cricket continue to thrive, especially as more formats of the sport such as The Hundred and T20 leagues gain popularity.

“Having the support of stars such as Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis will encourage a whole new generation to follow Test cricket. Virat has expressed his commitment to maintaining the position of Test cricket at the top of the sport, while off the back of South Africa’s one-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka Faf insisted such matches demonstrate Test cricket is still the number one format.

“When you have high-profile leaders like Virat and Faf being part of hugely exciting series, it shows what Test cricket can be. It is easy to see why the format is viewed as the pinnacle of our sport and we want to see it future-proofed and that could include looking at more day/night Tests, which we can see there is a big demand for, especially in Asia.”

The MCC World Cricket committee is now looking to expand the research and gain deeper understanding of the cricket audience, including commissioning further research with an even broader base and international representation.

“With the committee meeting again at Lord’s in August ahead of the second Ashes Test,” added Gatting, “there is a real opportunity to seek the views of further committee members, discuss this in more depth and produce some considered suggestions to the global game to secure Test cricket for future generations.”

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