London: The world is changing but there's no reason Test cricket won't survive another 2000 matches, India's captain MS Dhoni has said. Dhoni was speaking on the eve of the Lord's Test between England and India, which has the distinction of being the 2000th Test, as well as the 100th between the countries and the first of what is expected to be a closely fought series.
The milestone comes at a time when Test cricket is under threat from the shorter forms of the game - Twenty20, the newest format, and the revival in popularity of the ODI following the World Cup earlier this year. Asked whether he thought Test cricket would survive another 2000 matches, Dhoni offered a nuanced response. "What's important is to see where it's going and there's no reason why we should doubt it because wherever I've gone I've seen a good response on the field. Of course you'll have games where there won't be a full house compared to some of the ODIs or the T20 format but yes, people are still following Test cricket."
The challenge, as he pointed out, also comes from the changes in contemporary lifestyles. "The world has changed. It means you have to go to your job, with the privatisation and everything that is happening, the bosses want you to spend more time at your desk and look less at the television so all of these things play a big role in it. But there's no good reason why Test cricket can't survive or won't survive for the next 2000 games."
The figure lent an already-special match an extra sheen, he said. "You can look at the number and feel good about it, because 2000 is a big number which means the game has survived for a long time, and 100 between India and England means we have a long-term relation with the English side. It's a special game - playing at Lord's is always special - but overall, rather than thinking too much about the numbers, we can just look at the number and be proud. You can't play 100 games against one nation but when you have left cricket you can look back and say you played in the 100th Test between India and England, and 2000 when it comes to the history. We can be proud we are playing but at the same time we need to stick to the basics and enjoy the game."
His counterpart Andrew Strauss, while appreciating the occasion, spoke of the importance of the bottom-line. "It helps in hyping up the series, although I don't think this series needs any hyping because India versus England is two very good sides with some high quality players. The recipe is there for it to be a very entertaining series. The wider context is not something we are focusing on. In any Test series every side is hoping to get a fast start, get ahead and then earn the right over four Tests to win the series. All that other stuff is not for us to concentrate on and will look after itself."