Chester-Le-Street:England captain Andrew Strauss has admitted Test match cricket is "vulnerable" in an era of lucrative Twenty20 tournaments such as the Indian Premier League.
Before the start of England's two-Test series against the West Indies, Strauss questioned whether opposing captain Chris Gayle had done the right thing in turning up just two days beforehand following a stint in the IPL.
England won that match by 10 wickets inside three days at Lord's.
But they did so in front of lowly crowds at the 'home of cricket', where Tests are usually well-supported.
As at Wednesday morning, less than half of the available tickets for Thursday's first day's play in the second and final Test here at the 16,000-capacity Riverside had been sold.
Officials at the ground have not been helped by the fact that this match has been scheduled at a relatively early stage in the English season and that the West Indies were only confirmed as England's opponents after Sri Lanka withdrew because of their players' IPL commitments.
"Test cricket is slightly vulnerable at the moment. It is under pressure," said Strauss.
"I think it is important we play good Test cricket to make people aware of what a good format it is and how entertaining it can be. It's also up to the people who market the game to market Test cricket well."
Strauss said if that meant day/night Test matches, an idea being considered by the International Cricket Council, then so be it.
"As long as quality of the play isn't affected by the lights," he explained. "That is something that needs to be trialled. But if it means more people watch, and makes it a better spectacle then why shouldn't we look at it?"
Strauss was adamant Tests should remain at the pinnacle of cricket.
"It's the only game that really tests your temperament, your technique, your hunger, your bravery."
Crowds for Test matches have generally held up well in England compared to many other countries where the one-day game, and especially Twenty20, is far more popular with spectators.
Strauss, who is set to lead England against Australia later in the season, added: "An Ashes series will always provide a huge amount of interest around this country.
"But we need to get more people watching Test cricket and not just the same people every year."
Gayle gave an interview to the Guardian newspaper here on Wednesday in which he said that Strauss would be upset if Twenty20 prospered while Tests withered because "there is no way he can make the change".
The West Indies captain said later Wednesday he had been misquoted but a relaxed Strauss added: "Maybe he is right about that. He's there playing in the IPL and getting paid a fortune for it and I'm back in England playing a four-dayer for Middlesex.
"But I believe that even our players who play in the IPL value Test cricket as the ultimate format of the game."