Kolkata, Nov 15: Expressing concern over dwindling crowds at the Indian playing grounds including the iconic Eden Gardens here, the Indian cricket board Tuesday said it would deliberate over the matter to bring back the spectators.
‘We are concerned about that. We are looking into this,’ Board of Control for Cricket in India chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty told mediapersons at the Eden Gardens.
‘We will discuss the matter in the next meeting. We will try to do something to attract people to Test matches,’ said Shetty, who was here to watch the second day’s action of the second Test between India and the West Indies.
Stylish batsman V.V.S. Laxman and former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly were also worried over the near-empty stands.
Eden Gardens, once known for its large and boisterous crowd, has seen largely empty stands in international matches involving home side India since last month.
The India-England ODI held Oct 25 saw only 27,000 people, the lowest turnout at the hallowed ground in an ODI featuring India. Things improved in the Oct 29 Twenty20 game when around 50,000 turned up.
However, the crowd presence hit a new low in the ongoing Test match, which had a massive build up with Sachin Tendulkar a ton away from his 100th international century mark.
But even when Tendulkar was batting on the opening day Monday, the spectator count touched a bare maximum of 10,000. The scene was more pathetic when the day started Monday with only about 4,000 in attendance in the 67,300 capacity stadium that has been hosting Test matches since 1934. It was also the first ground other than Lords to hold a World Cup final in 1987.
Laxman, who struck a fine hundred Tuesday, also expressed concern over the small crowd.
‘About the empty stands, we have to first find out the reasons, and then find a solution. I saw the same in England ODIs. It was sad to see an empty Eden Gardens. Something seriously needs to be done to get the crowds back to the stadiums,’ he said.
Ganguly, however, felt that playing Test matches under floodlight was not feasible in the subcontinent because of the dew factor.
‘In the subcontinent, there is dew in the evening, I don’t think day-night would be an option. But Test format is mother of cricket and we’ve got to find a solution to it,’ said Ganguly on the sidelines of practice for the Bengal Ranji Trophy team.