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'Cricketers like Tendulkar can still attract vast spectators in Tests'

Last updated on: September 11, 2009 13:01 IST

Sachin TendulkarCricketers like Sachin Tendulkar can still attract a huge crowd in Test matches around the world, says Robin Marlar, a former president of Marylebone Cricket Club.

"Cricketers like (Sachin) Tendulkar can still attract vast spectators at Test matches," Marlar said, while delivering the inaugural Ranji Memorial Lecture at the Nehru Centre in London on Thursday night.

In his lecture titled 'How to Protect, Preserve and Make

Prosperous Test Cricket' Marlar was critical of the cricket administrators in India, who, he said, were driven by commercial considerations rather than making Test cricket attractive.

"At present they (cricket administrators in India) were driven by financial consideration rather than the spirit of the game," he said.

Describing Ranjisinhji as one of the all-time great batsmen, Marlar said he had a team of coaches and bowlers who honed his cricketing skills.

Marlar also claimed that Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan was a "chucker" but he could get away because the "laws drafted by MCC are not alright."

Ex-India captain Sunil Gavaskar and his former team-mate Dilip Doshi, former England batsman Mike Brearley, former Pakistan basman Asif Iqbal, chairman of MCC Charles Frey and Zubin Mehta, well-known Indian western music conductor were present on the occasion.

Asif Iqbal said Test cricket would never die but administrators must work out schemes to allow students watch Test matches free and provide concession tickets to commoners.

"Test cricket is here to stay," he said.

Ashis Ray, cricket commentator who was in the chair, said, "If Test cricket doesn't survive, cricket as we know it doesn't survive either."

He said Kumarsri Ranjitsinhji, later ruler of the princely state of Nawanagar, was a rare talent.

"He was recognised as one of the finest batsmen of all-time -- one who added new dimensions to the art and science of batsmanship," Ray said.

"On his debut for Sussex in 1895, he posted 70 and 150 against MCC. A year later, making his maiden appearance for England at Old Trafford, Manchester, he scored 62 and 154 not out against Australia.

"On the third morning of this Test match, Ranji was 41 not out. By lunch, he had reached 154. In other words, he had realised a staggering 113 runs in a two-hour session. In an era when eminent batsmen struggled to average 40 in Tests, he averaged 45.

"It's not a small matter that for 10 seasons in a row he exceeded 1,000 runs in a season for Sussex. In 1899 and 1900, he crossed 3,000 in a season. He was prolific in Australia, too, averaging over 60 when he toured in 1897-98. He was truly a legend in his life time," Ray said.

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