The other day I had the brief pleasure of watching Bangladesh versus Sri Lanka on the goggle box. It only lasted about an hour as other family members succeeded in prising the remote away from me as soon as my back was turned.
But it was test cricket at its best. There wasn’t a flurry of wickets and only a few runs were scored but from the perspective of the game it couldn’t have been more vital.
The awesome and ever green middle order batsman Kumar Sangakkara had crafted yet another fine century as he looked to marshal the tail to get a meaningful first innings lead over the hosts. Sri Lanka had a lead of around 40 runs with only four wickets in hand. Gripping test match cricket as the game ebbed and flowed.
The sad thing was the crowd – or lack of. I wasn’t there I could only see what the TV beamed back. But from what I could see it was like watching a second XI match in terms of bums on seats. It was the proverbial ‘one man and his dog’ stuff.
This is a great shame. I am an unapologetic fan of test match cricket. For me it is the best aspect of the best sport in the world. One day cricket is fun and helps to generate decent sums of money but nothing beats a closely fought five day match. In England attendances seem to be fairly stable but if the Bangladesh v Sri Lanka attendance is anything to go by (hardly a scientific test, I know) I do fear for the future.
And I wish I knew the answer to get attendances back up. Do ticket prices play a part? Is too much cricket (in all its forms) played? Are the pitches too helpful to batsmen so teams rack up 500+ scores in each innings?
My opinion? As always it’s probably a mixture of the various issues. Test match cricket is a pricey business in the UK but there still seems to be enough people willing to part with their hard-earned cash to fill grounds. But in other countries the question needs to be asked if that is the case? If money is a barrier then get prices down. Sharpish. Get the kids in for free. Too much cricket is also played across the globe and too many modern day batsmen are growing over-inflated averages they don’t merit because of batting friendly surfaces (these are debates for another day).
If you have some thoughts then please contribute to the discussion.
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