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A great game is nothing without an electrifying atmosphere charged with fans' emotions. In fact it brings the best out of players as was witnessed at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore during the recent Test match.
It proved again it's not the players or pitches that will decide the future of Test cricket but the passionate spectators who throng the stadium and charge it with their enthusiasm.
It's the atmosphere which the spectators create that brings the best out of cricketers. As professional cricketers they are expected to perform and they did so at Mohali where the stands were empty.
At Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi the connoisseurs of the game are starved for a good game of cricket. The cricketing atmosphere at these stadiums urges players to perform.
From the time their bus enters the stadium through heavy traffic all going in one direction till the bus leaves in the evening for the hotel, thousands of tri-colours flutter across the stadium and outside. The former President of the BCCI and KSCA, Mangalam Chinnaswamy, would have been proud to watch 30,000 spectators supporting the home team everyday. It was his dream to have a top-class Test centre.
When 37 years ago we watched the scintillating 183-run partnership between M.A.K Pataudi (100) and Brijesh Patel (93) in the MCC versus South Zone game in January, 1973 at Bangalore where temporary stands were erected, Chinnaswamy had said: “let the money come in the association and this will have the best facilities for spectators to enjoy cricket.” It was left to a bunch of committed cricketers led by Brijesh Patel to fulfil his dream.
Patel, who is perhaps one of the finest examples of a cricketer-turned-administrator in the country, created facilities that cricketers and spectators crave for. It's the committed lot of workers, young and old, who work day in and day out to prepare the flawless facilities when an international match is played. It's their initiative with drive that creates a comfort zone for players and spectators.
Usually when the home team loses the toss and the visitors pile up runs on the first day, the enthusiasm and presence of the spectators begins to wane in the follow up, but not at Bangalore. Despite a pedestrian performance by the Indian bowlers on the first day, the public transport approaching the stadium saw enthusiasts precariously hanging to the bus.
Why then does the BCCI have a rotation policy and grant Test matches to cities that have no cricket culture? Whether one likes it or not, a game of cricket unless it's T20, can't be expected to have excitement every minute like football does. Cricket consumes more hours, can put a strain on eyes and necks, attract back spasms sitting on wooden benches and unwieldy plastic chairs.
But the beauty of it is that when one's brain is ticking in analysing the game and predicting its future, it makes you forget the discomfort.
It is a labour of love. However the Chinnaswamy Stadium deserves praise for its infrastructure.
If at all Test cricket has to survive in India, let Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi be the dedicated centres for Tests. These venues have the whiff of history.
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