'Timing of England's victory unfortunate'
Former captain Geoffrey Boycott feels England's hammering of a financially powerful Indian team might leave spectators disillusioned and deepen the problems of Test cricket.
"I am thrilled and delighted by England's performances. But it is a shame that they have risen to No 1 in an era when other countries' Test teams are declining," Boycott said.
"England can play and beat what is put in front of them. It's not their fault that others are failing to match their high standards. But the timing is unfortunate for two reasons.
"First, because testing yourselves against powerful opposition is more fun than lording it over inadequate rivals. Secondly, every hammering that England inflict on this feeble Indian side is deepening the problems of the world game."
Image: Geoffrey Boycott
'When you see acres of empty seats, the game is in a crisis'
He felt the game's future and India's performance is inter-linked. "India's financial might is the biggest thing cricket has going for it, from a business point of view, and everyone will suffer if their spectators become disillusioned.
"India are the paymasters of cricket. Every time their board auctions a TV rights package, at least five broadcasters bid. And those broadcasters provide vital funding for other countries when India tour abroad. So if India sneezes, the whole world catches a cold," he wrote in Daily Telegraph. Boycott felt the rise of T20 coupled with the political and economical scenario is pushing Test cricket to the brink of extinction.
"When you look at the sort of cricket most teams are playing, and the vast acres of empty seats, you have to say that the game is in a crisis," the 70-year-old cricketer wrote.
Image: Cricket fans in fancy dress enjoy the action during day four of the 3rd Test at Edgbaston
'Economics dictate which four countries rank in the top division'
"This decline in Test attendances has been accelerated by the rise of T20. Young players see the riches on offer. Then you have the local difficulties in various parts of the world. Nobody will tour Pakistan because of terror threat, Zimbabwe has been racked by political strife, and Kumar Sangakkarra spoke of the financial irregularities afflicting Sri Lanka," he said.
"The result is a two-tier Test structure. Economics dictate which four countries rank in the top division."
Boycott believed the sophisticated coverage of matches by TV channels is shrinking the number of on-field spectators and subsequently pushing the administrators to pack in more series, which is taking a toll on the players.
"TV may be holding the game together through the money provided by Sky and other broadcasters, but it is also part of the problem. As coverage gets more and more sophisticated, the motivation to pay your money and travel to the match is shrinking," he wrote.
Image: Kumar Sangakkarra
'This series has damaged the brand of Test cricket'
"As crowds shrink and income falters, administrators look to pack in ever more series, especially if they involve money-spinning visitors like India or England.
"That explains why Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Indians have been on the go non-stop since the beginning of the year. The only break in their touring schedule was for the IPL, and it is hard to see players pulling out of that," he added.
Boycott believed the India-England series have further dented the brand of Test cricket and if it continues in this way, the format might not exist in its original form for long.
"Gautam Gambhir receives 1.5 million for just over a month's work (IPL). On a week-by-week basis, that makes him better paid than a Premier League footballer. Is it any wonder that the Indians have looked tired and jaded on this tour?
"The series promised to be a thriller but ended up further damaging the brand of Test cricket.
"The whole thing is a mess, and I do not have faith in the ICC to come up with the right answers. In a few decades' time, I doubt if Test cricket will exist in its current form,"
"I believe there is a good chance that the Ashes will endure, because of the unique history. But for many other countries, the future looks bleak," he added.
Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni