Was Kanpur the best city to host India’s landmark 500th Test match, more so because this game has failed to excite the city’s cricket fans. It was far from ideal that India’s 500th Test match is being played before near-empty stands.
The tiny crowd at the Green Park was disappointing, even though the schoolchildren did try to make noise and raise excitement levels. The Indian cricket board (BCCI) and Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association (UPCA) had publicised the historic nature of this Test in the local newspapers and radio channels here, and also put up hoardings at major intersections of the city. But this didn’t bring in the crowds.
When Kanpur was given this Test, did BCCI take into consideration the fact that this would be a historically important match? It seems unlikely, for BCCI has done little to promote this match — it did nothing more than organise a Facebook contest for fans, and that too only a week ago!
Today, there were no celebrations worth talking about — BCCI officials merely handed mementos to the former India captains who had been lucky enough to be invited. No exhibition detailing India’s journey to this 500th Test, no display of photographs or trophies or cricketing gear belonging to cricketers from the past, no interaction for the fans with the stars of today. Just a cursory distribution, a mere photo-op of shawls and mementoes being handed to the captains, some of whom left the city this very afternoon.
In 1980, when BCCI organised its golden jubilee in Mumbai, it marked the occasion with a grand celebration, inviting all cricketers who had played Tests for the nation. It became a truly memorable occasion as former India Test players from far-off places reached Mumbai and proudly took part in the celebrations.
Today BCCI felicitated former Test captains Ajit Wadekar, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Ravi Shastri, Mohammad Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But BCCI didn’t invite three former Test captains who should have been there — Bishan Singh Bedi, Nari Contractor and Gundappa Viswanath. India have been led by 32 captains in Tests, from CK Nayudu to Virat Kohli, but not all living captains received the invitation. This seems unfair and petty.
The good part was BCCI chose to honour India’s women captains this time around. The seven captains honoured were Mithali Raj (present captain), Anjum Chopra, Diana Edulji, Poornima Rau, Shantaranga Swamy, Sandhya Agarwal and Shubhangi Kulkarni.
Rahul Dravid, who had been on the tour of Australia with the India A team as its coach, opted out of today’s ceremony as he wanted to spend time with his family in Bengaluru.