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Gower finds Kohli's remarks on Test cricket encouraging
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Gower finds Kohli's remarks on Test cricket encouraging

Amid the rise of T20 cricket, Test cricket has found a strong backing from India captain Virat Kohli.

The ever-rising number of T20 leagues, source of big money for cricketers around the world, has attracted big crowds, especially in the Indian Premier League.

Test cricket by contrast – outside England and Australia – has seen the footfalls decrease around the world.

But former England captain David Gower said comments made by Kohli during India's 4-1 Test series loss in England earlier this year during the summer are significant.

"We had a fantastic series against India, closer than the margin suggests," said Gower during the inaugural Ranji Memorial Public Conversation on Cricket in London.

"It is a reflection of the balance of power if Virat says that – you've got a lot of people who will listen," explained Gower, who said the introduction of a World Test Championship from next year will help provide greater context for matches.

The Indian skipper had termed Test cricket as the "most beautiful format of the game".

He is, though, against matches in the 141-year-old format being reduced to a maximum of four days from five to make them more attractive. England are playing a four-day match against Test newcomers Ireland in July. The experiment was done earlier this earlier in a game between Zimbabwe and South Africa, which ended inside two days.

India are the undisputed financial powerhouse of world cricket. Tours by India boost opponents' bank balances, allowing home boards to sell TV rights to the lucrative subcontinental market.

Former India wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer said the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had been "blinded" by Twenty20 to the detriment of an overall vision.

"India have been sort of blinded by the T20, the IPL," said Engineer, speaking alongside Gower. "Your first priority is to play for your country and then the riches will come automatically."

Former Pakistan batsman Mushtaq Mohammad said it was crucial to make Test cricket affordable and that spectators risked being priced out of the game.

"If you want Test cricket to survive you've got to reduce the entrance fee. Open the gates, let the people come in, make it affordable."

As for the recent innovation of day-night Tests, the former Pakistan batsman added: "In Southeast Asia we've got the right weather for day-night cricket but don't reduce it (Test cricket)."

Gower especially emphasised reviving the red-ball cricket in once power-house of cricket – West Indies. Former England captain said that reviving the game in the Caribbean was no easy task despite a significant cash injection.

"If you are talking about the Caribbean, you are not talking about one nation but several nations," he said. "You are talking about socio-economic problems and it's disjointed."

Of some consolation to traditionalists is that the debate is nothing new, with Test cricket still alive and kicking.

"In this ultra-modern age, counter-attractions have multiplied many times....They (young people) just haven't the time to devote to cricket or is it they just can't be bothered to dash home to tea, then to the local cricket ground?"

It might sound like a contemporary lament, but those words were written by England great Herbert Sutcliffe after his country's 1950-51 Ashes Test series loss in Australia.