Punjab Cricket Association president and ICC principal advisor I S Bindra on Sunday said the dwindling crowd interest in Test cricket is a result of poor facilities at venues and admitted that the organisers have been "short changing" the spectators.
Even as existing stadiums struggle to pull in the crowds despite the massive hype around the ongoing India-Australia Test series, Bindra believes building more stadiums would be able to attract spectators, who would be enticed to see new structures and facilities.
"It will impact everything if crowd remain aloof from Test cricket. We have been short changing the public and I admit we have not been more spectator-friendly. The state associations will need to create more facilities and we have to accept it as a challenge.
"To draw more crowds to the grounds, we are now looking at creating more international standard facilities at Bathinda and Jalandhar. If matches are rotated, the novelty factor will be there because only one venue cannot keep drawing crowds," said the veteran administrator.
Bindra said one reason behind the low turnout for Test matches at PCA Stadium at Mohali could be that it had hosted 13 matches in the past two years -- including Test matches, ICC Champions Trophy and seven IPL matches -- and the charm of the longer version of the game might have been lost a bit.
To attract more crowd to Test matches, Bindra said the PCA will have to provide more facilities. He said the PCA stadium are working on building a new pavilion block, covered stands and more facilities before the 2011 World Cup.
"New facilities are also coming up at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium, Nagpur and soon 26 other state associations will have new facilities," he said, adding all the associations will get help from the BCCI to improve facilities.
"There will be no discrimination. We don't discriminate on the basis of affiliations or who voted for whom," Bindra said when asked if Cricket Association of Bengal, led by former BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya, will get all the help it will need to create the facilities.
When asked if the IPL, which commanded 87 per cent crowd occupancy in the first edition this year, would adversely impact the longer version of the game, Bindra said, "No. On the contrary IPL has generated more interest among the people towards the game.
"Twenty20 has in fact attracted more people to Test cricket. Even the TRP ratings for the current Test are high which shows more people are watching the game on TV. T20's effect on Tests is both a challenge and opportunity if we draw proper lessons from it.
"IPL has generated interest in people who were shifting to F1 and American sports, but what we now need is to attract the crowd to come and watch inside the stadium," he said.
Asked what steps are being taken by the ICC to promote Test cricket, he said, "ICC is looking at various things. There is still discussion going on for a Test championship and details are being worked out. A company from Boston is doing the necessary research and it's still a long way to go and we have to carry all the members along."
On the BCCI-Indian Cricket League (ICL) row, Bindra said the ICC is awaiting the Indian Board's report on its recent meeting with the 'unofficial' league.
Bindra said one important job at his hand now is to promote cricket in the United States and China.
"After India, United States is the second biggest market for cricket in terms of TV rights."