While traditionally, India vs South Africa doesn’t generate the kind of eyeballs that India vs Australia does, this was still considered a big series. The numbers, though, were a revelation. Viewership was down to about 50 per cent of the average from 2011-14 and that is alarming. T20’s upward curve By contrast the numbers for T20 cricket from India vs Australia through to the World T20 showed a very healthy upward curve. Viewership of the 2016 World T20 was 50 per cent higher than for the 2014 event. It would suggest that far from being fatigued, viewers were actually looking for more. Off all these, the viewership of the Asia Cup was the most revealing for me. I expected the World T20 and the bilateral T20 internationals to generate huge eyeballs but the Asia Cup hasn’t captured people’s minds in quite the same way as some other tournaments have. That it so comfortably, so overwhelmingly, outrated a marquee Test series meant that the ringing of alarm bells has to be taken more seriously. It led to a hypothesis that I’ve had for a while; that saying Test cricket is the ultimate is a bit like praising Mother Teresa was back in the nineties; it was the right thing to say but it meant little beyond that. I find a lot of people talking up Test cricket but that isn’t reflected in the numbers of those watching. And so I believe that, instead of merely saying how good it is, if people actually participated in Test cricket by watching on television or going to grounds, they would help in keeping it alive. Currently Test cricket runs the risk of becoming a niche viewership sport and since sport on television has to be financially sustainable, especially due to rising costs of acquisition, it is understandable that there will be a call for more T20 cricket. Maybe one other way of measuring importance could be to analyse the chatter on social media for a vastly greater number of people will be talking about Test cricket than actually watching it and that could be an indicator of its continued acceptance. But sadly that doesn’t help with the monetisation of cricket for eventually commerce determines sustenance. Personally, I love watching all three forms and the many inherent qualities of Test cricket, especially the second chance it gives players, appeal greatly to me. But it seems I belong increasingly to a smaller group. And so, the message going out to fans this home cricket season is: if you like Test cricket, watch it because it grows increasingly endangered. Merely saying how great it is will not help sustain it. For the future of Test cricket in India, this is going to be a big season.