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India keep winning - but the crowds stay away

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Adam Mountford | 19:11 UK time, Sunday, 23 October 2011

The one-day international series may be well and truly over as a contest, but we still have the garden of Eden to tempt us.

After another Indian victory in Mumbai on Sunday night, England's players head to Kolkata for two games at the iconic Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium.

It will be the first international match England will have played at India's most famous ground since 2002 after the scheduled World Cup game earlier this year had to be moved because redevelopment work was not finished in time.

Despite the travails of the tour, many of England's players have expressed their excitement at playing at a ground which is sometimes described as cricket's answer to the Coliseum.

The gardens of Eden can be a dangerous place for a man called Adam, but I must admit I am really excited to be visiting the stadium for the first time.

I have always been fascinated with stories of famous matches played in front of raucous crowds as cricketers made their pilgrimage to Kolkata's cricketing centre.

Mumbai stadium for India v England ODI

Despite India's success, the crowds have stayed away from the series against England

Tales of Douglas Jardine leading England to a series victory in 1934, games where the passion of the crowd spilled over such as the riots which disrupted matches against the West Indies and Australia in the 1960s or the World Cup semi-final in 1996.

Then there is the game recently voted on Test Match Special as the best Test match of all time when Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman led India to an amazing Test win over Australia in 2001.

It is always the size of the Kolkata crowd that has seemed the most remarkable part of these stories. You hear figures of 130,000-plus people crammed into the ground on some occasions giving their Indian heroes vigorous support.

I asked India legend and TMS commentator Sunil Gavaskar what it is like to play at a packed Eden Gardens. "Scary," he told me, "even for the home side."

But will it be packed when England play in the fifth ODI on Tuesday or the Twenty20 international on Saturday?

So far, the attendance figures at the first four matches have been really disappointing. I cannot remember seeing a single empty seat on my previous visits to India when the home team have played a one-day international, but on Sunday the Wankhede Stadium was less than half full, even though it was India's first match at the ground since winning the World Cup final in April.

It has been a similar story in Hyderabad, Delhi and Mohali with many tickets left unsold.

So what is keeping the crowds away?

There have been plenty of theories offered by some of the Indians I have met in my three weeks here.

The absence of India's "galacticos" must be a factor with the likes of Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and especially Sachin Tendulkar missing through injury.

The nature of India's defeat in England must have put off some looking to buy tickets in advance whilst conversely the one-sided nature of this series may have put off some hoping for a contest.

But as I arrived at the ground on Sunday morning I had a chat with Mumbai Cricket Association managing commitee member Vinod Deshpande, who had no doubt what was stopping people coming to the games.

"It is simple," Deshpande told me. "There is just too much cricket."

That argument seems pretty strong when you look at the schedule of India's players over the past few months. February to April had the World Cup with the emotional victory for Mahendra Dhoni and his team.

The Indian Premier League followed, just a handful of days after the World Cup was lifted, with the little matter of 74 matches before India headed to England for the ill-fated Test and ODI series.

India then hosted the Champions League which finished just days before this ODI series got under way. And that is not the end of it! India are about to welcome West Indies for Tests and ODI's before touring Australia.

The Mumbai official told me that there is a danger of the Indian sporting public turning its back on the game. "People want something new," he told me.

In the Times of India newspaper this morning there was a full page advert with the headline "One Nation. One Soul. One Indian Team."

But this had nothing to do with Dhoni and his side. The team in question was the Force India Formula 1 team.

Throughout the tour we have seen Formula 1 cars on display in shopping centres and airports with excitement growing ahead of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix taking place in Delhi at the weekend.

I don't think anyone is suggesting that Formula 1 is suddenly going to replace cricket as the most popular sport in India, but there is a sense that the cricketing authorities can't afford to be complacent.

Already there have been complaints that ticket prices have been too high during the India-England series, with not enough reasonably priced tickets available to buy.

One Indian fan, Yugam Sharma, tweeted me: "They have priced out the average fan. I went to get the tickets on Thursday, but the cheapest (1000 rupees) were sold out in two hours."

It's not just this series which has seen disappointing crowds in recent weeks.

The Champions League final in Chennai featured two Indian sides and yet despite the television commentators constantly going on about the amazing attendance, there were whole stands empty.

There is no real evidence that Indian passion for the game is diminishing. When I visited the famous Maidan playing fields in Mumbai, cricket was still far and away the most popular game among the thousands gathered.

There were a few small football matches breaking out on the edge of the fields and you do see plenty of replica Chelsea or Manchester United shirts.

But despite such examples you sense it is still cricket which, if properly handled, should remain the dominant force in Indian sport.

Although if the lesson from the Garden of Eden was not to eat the forbidden fruit, perhaps the lesson for those running Indian cricket is not to kill the goose which has laid the golden egg.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    How can you constantly get excited about cricket matches when there are so many meaningless games.
    The IPL experience may be big in India, but selling it overseas seems to be less and less of an option with less and less interest - too many games, and biff, bang cricket with teams I don't have any connection with. And I don't think many people watch to see their 'favourite' player
    20/20 is destroying cricket - it may be family orientated, over in four hours but how many games are actually close? How many games have proper tactics to restrict runs, put pressure on the batsman etc, its hit and score, or hit and out
    Too much power resides in the asian block - DRS has proven to work, yet instead of the governing body backing it and saying it must be used due to pressure from Indians they back down and say its up to the teams to decide??????????
    Seriously, what other sport would have such little backbone

  • Comment number 2.

    Adam,

    India has been saturated with cricket this year and I think that we now see that IPL is a greater draw than the national team, no different than in the UK where PL football proves be a greater sell-out than England at Wembley.

    The structuring of the international fixtures (as well as economic issues) are now hitting the travelling fans. England do not have a 'proper' tour this winter until Sri Lanka. India ODIs & Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.

    The ICC show no enthusiasm for a more structured cricket fixture list and the TV contracts set the demand to fill schedules (yesterday 2 ODIs on at same time).

    Unless there is an IPL window and a new tour schedule the game is being thrashed to within an inch of its life.

  • Comment number 3.

    Far too much cricket - nail, head!!!!!

    3 (or rather incomprehensibly 2!) Test series including seemingly endless One-Dayers interspersed with the odd 20/20 then, just a few weeks later the same teams play another long one day 'series'.

    How about having May to August (NH) and November to February (SH) for Tests and their corresponding one day series and just one series per Summer? Then the interim months can be filled with the rest of the dirge!

    Cricket is quickly killing the Goose and the Golden Egg has long since been boiled. Interest is waning and there is no excitement of another Test Nation visiting (despite the endless hype from the broadcasters)

    Time for the ICC to take a serious look past the $$$

  • Comment number 4.

    I've just landed back in the UK from Mumbai and was at the game yesterday and was astonished by the lack of fans and atmosphere. My hosts assured me that would change when India were batting and more fans came in, but it remained pretty flat. For someone who'd always wanted to see India v. England in India, it was rather anticlimactic. A number of reasons have been proffered as you allude to, but there are a couple of others that explains yesterday. Firstly, it's Diwali this week and many Mumbaikers have taken the chance to escape the city for the holiday season. Secondly, the lack of Sachin - pure and simple. If he'd been playing in his beloved hometown the ground would have been full.

    However, that doesn't explain the lack of attendence at the other grounds, and for this you have to look at the BCCI and their relationship with TV. Rather as football has become in the UK, cricket in India (and to an extent the UK) has become beholden to TV money. Think about the money that a game generates - TV revenue is considerably more than bums on seats. TV demands constant international ODIs - it's what generates the audiences, hence the ad revenue. The model's simple. Whilst the administrators continue to pander to the broadcasters, who pay the bills, half empty grounds will become the norm, not the exception.

    It's tragic, as there's nothing like a full house at a cricket match, but that's the reality and I can't see that changing!

  • Comment number 5.

    As an addition, one thing that could be done to help the in-ground atmosphere is offer cheap / free tickets to school kids. The MCC did this for the final day at Lords during the summer and it was fantastic. If you offered really cheap tickets to the game to various schools in Mumbai and other venues, not only would the atmosphere be fantastic, but a generation of kids (expecially the underprivileged ones) would see there idols in the flesh and become more and more obsessed with this great game!

  • Comment number 6.

    #1, great comment

  • Comment number 7.

    #1 forrester I can agree with your point about the power of the BCCI with the amount of money to dwarf all the other cricketing nations but money rules sport nowdays as shown by our own ECB selling the tv rights to Sky.
    I don't agree with your analysis of T20 though. The game is promoting cricket to new audiences and new tactics and innovations are being created through it. The recent Champions League T20 had lots of close high quality matches and most went down to the last over. It is noticeable to me how many more sixes are scored in Test matches now since T20 began (though admittedly I grew up at a time of Boycotts forward defensive stroke). T20 isn't killing cricket, it is ensuring it's survival at a time when people can't afford to take days off work just to watch a match.

  • Comment number 8.

    #7
    Thanks, and maybe I like test cricket too much, however maybe more sixes are being scored in test cricket - but how many batsmen fashion an innings, how many tests are over in 4 days, batsmen don't 'bat out the day' anymore, 20/20 shots are now included in the tests, and they don't work

    I can't keep up with all the cricket going on, especially 20/20, and it may be helping cricket survive at the moment, but I can't see this flood of this short game being maintained in the long run. Too much of a good thing is eventually just that - too much

  • Comment number 9.

    #7 & #8 Re T20

    The recent Champions league was an excellent tournament once they got through the need for qualifiers!

    On the international scene T20s worth unclear when you have a single or two match series. T20 is a cricketing lottery that only TV wins. Give it meaning and international context as qualifying for the T20 World Cup?

  • Comment number 10.

    #1 Spot on! Too much cricket at all levels, with the focus on "entertainment" a la 20/20 instead of the sport itself. I cannot agree (#7) that t20 is innovative at all! all I see is smash and bash like wot I used to play at school. The adverse effect is plain to see at test level (more sixes or not).
    Stupid music celebrating a boundary, messing about with the colour of the ball, pyjama kit (no sweaters allowed - I ask you), constant use of stupid, stupid technology to ensure that no one is ever out, Ra Ra girls, burger-munching families who have lost their way en route to Tescos, what have we done to this beautiful game.
    Oh and by the way, "Barmy Army"? Foul mouthed football yobs all of them, feted by players when drunk. Why take the next generation to watch a match when they are subject to the truly awful (and illegal) abuse that these morons produce?
    The game needs to get back to being a sport-not an Americanised trivia.

  • Comment number 11.

    #8."how many batsmen fashion an innings, how many tests are over in 4 days, batsmen don't 'bat out the day' anymore, 20/20 shots are now included in the tests, and they don't work"

    That is a very good point. I concede the skill of being able to play for the team and just stay in does seem to have declined in tests with the rise of T20 which is certainly not a great thing.

  • Comment number 12.

    T20 is incredibly popular, but only really in India or at least the sub continent. The players obviously like it, big crowds, bigger paychecks for little work.

    But the calls for it to get a slot in the international schedule is ridiculous. It isn't international cricket it's nothing more than a showy domestic league (albeit very wealthy). Indias love of T20 explains how heavily weighted in the IPL sides favour teh CLT20 is. When only the Indian teams can field anywhere close to the maximum number of international stars it makes their sides stronger (and less Indian).

    The CLT20 could be very good, if it was the best two sides from every first class nation. It isn't.

  • Comment number 13.

    Sorry Hawkeye jock - T20 is here to stay what we need is a balanced diet and money in the game to develop cricket at grass roots. Otherwise the game will not survive full-stop.

    Give the Barmy Army some credit they're a loyal Test match following fan base. Yes a small minority of them hark back to the terraces humour but as a whole they bring passion and support abroad. No wonder they steer clear of ODIs & T20.

  • Comment number 14.

    I don't agree that it's too much cricket. I think the problem is stupid scheduling. It is ridiculous to have the same two countries play each other in a test series, a one-day series a 20-20 series then move country and start playing each other again.

    We are in the 20th century. Teams can travel by aeroplane now!! Yet it seems like tour schedules have been determined as if it takes 3 months to travel from England to India! Why not play the different series against different teams. How much more exciting to have a summer with a test series against India, then a one day series against Australia, then a 20-20 series against South Africa, as an example. Obviously that would sell more tickets than the same England vs India ad infinitum. It's not rocket science.

    Last year when Real Madrid and Barcelona were scheduled to play each other 4 times in a row even the players and managers were sick of it by the end. And that must be just about the most anticipated fixture in world sport! England and India have just played each other something like 18 times in a row! Crazy.

  • Comment number 15.

    #10 - I'm intrigued as to the difference between a "football" yob and any other yob. Aren't they just one and the same thing or are you trying to suggest that football yobbery, whatever that may be, has it's ow unique characteristics? An individual behaving badly at a cricket match is a yob, pure and simple. Maybe we'd be more accurate if we described them as "cricket" yobs.

    In terms of the poor attendances at international cricket matches, why are we surprised? As other posters have said, the sheer amount of cricket, of all types, has reached such mind-boggling saturation levels that I'm surprised that as many are still watching as they are. One meaningless series rolls into another and even a cricket fan like me was totally unaware, until I channel-hooped on Sky, that England were actually playing the 4th ODI against India yesterday. I soon switched back to some rather more interesting and entertaining Premiership football. Quite simply, the game held no interest for me and, if that's true in my case, after 50 years of watching and playing the game, what does that mean for those with less accrued attachment to the sport?.

    Spectator sport depends on two things; an interest in who wins and a competitive contest. Yesterday's game had neither quality for me and, guess what, I didn't watch it and I'd no sooner pay £30 or £40 to be in live attendance as I would walk on broken glass.

    Very sad.

  • Comment number 16.

    #1 is spot on in his analysis. Something needs to be done soon before it's too late.
    Cast your minds back to snooker. The golden age of the early 80's led to snooker saturation and look where it's at now. Outside of the World Championship nobody cares about snooker........

  • Comment number 17.

    When I was growing up, we played 20/20 in school. We then moved on to 50/50 at club. As an adult, who's travelled abroad to watch England in Series in Australia (x2) and South Africa I have to honestly admit, I don't want any T20 or ODI cricket.

    I just don't care about it, because I don't think they are formats of the game that the best cricketers in the world should be playing.

    I actually agree with both sides of the argument about T20... it does attract new crowds (and should be encouraged to do so), but it also doesn't teach people how to play the game properly and therefore should never, ever, be seen as the pinnacle of the sport.

    As for scheduling, again this does need looked at, but people have been saying that for years... and no one ever listens.

  • Comment number 18.

    Wishing Adam, Jonathan and Team TMS a wonderful time at the Eden Gardens in our City of Joy.


    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 19.

    An Indian friend said that being beaten by Indian police as they attempted crowd control dampened his enthusiasm for Eden Gardens. Wonder why!

  • Comment number 20.

    My main thought was that having reached #1 status in Test cricket and won the ICC World Cup in April, the hopes of all fans of Indian cricket have for the moment been consummated, and what has followed is largely irrelevant. Any fears that they might have had about being thrashed by England have not been borne out by events.

    The absence of the recognisable superstars may also be a factor...

  • Comment number 21.

    There is no one reply to the reason for 'Half empty stadium'; but a collective of all the reasons stated.
    1. Diwali week; offices closed wednesday, thursday
    2. Sunday night; some people may have work on monday morning.
    3. Hot weather; it gets really sweaty in the stadiums; especially in mumbai
    4. Too much cricket; Mumbai Indians just won the CL.
    5. Missing of big stalwarts of the Indian cricket - Sachin a big factor - no other player in the Indian team is from Mumbai
    6. Ticket prices - not cheap - earlier matches in every city were a rarity; nowadays the big cities hosts too many games too quickly; also; lots of matches for the IPL in the big cities - its just cheaper following things at home

  • Comment number 22.

    #21 Of course, whilst I don't dispute your list of contributory factors, there may be a rather less comforting reason for people voting with their feet and that is that the spectacle is quite often pretty poor. I've thought for some time that the 50 over format is tired and, although there were some twitches of life evident in the recent World Cup, the entertainment value is usually disappointing with far too many dull passages of play and one-sided contests. Let's face it, a one day, limited over game of cricket is not much without a tight or close finish. It doesn't unfold and meander endearingly like Test or four-day cricket and I think the appeal of it, as with the T20 format, is on the wane, certainly played at the current quantity and frequency.

    I sometimes think cricket suffers from this endless chase of an ultimately illusory goal; to become a mass global spectator and participatory sport and, in so doing, exposes itself to the worst of all worlds. Far better to be more comfortable with itself and develop its obvious strengths; a pleasing and unique game but one that has exhausted its capacity for greater global penetration and popularity. It's where it as a game now through natural osmosis; don't force it chaps!

  • Comment number 23.

    @crossbat - "far too many dull passages of play ".. that to me sounds like Test cricket.
    Truth is no one in India has time to watch 5 days of cricket. Do you have any idea how much national productivity will be lost if people started watching 5 day matches! India cannot afford (and hope never implements) a system of social benefits so that its citizens can remain entertained for 5 consecutive days without having to work and earn. Bring on 20/20 and ODI's !!

  • Comment number 24.

    Simple guys, its Diwali season , people wants to go shopping , would you go to see england playing football on 23 december?

  • Comment number 25.

    #15
    Yes, football yobs do have unique characteristics:

    They watch football and they are yobs. Unfortunately, their violent verbally abusive behaviour has spread across most sports. The "Barmy Army" has become cringe-making drunken cancer at cricket grounds and should not be tolerated. A trip to Lords was ruined for me and hundreds around me by their inane attempts at "Banter". They should grow up and understand that children have ears.

  • Comment number 26.

    As an Indian, I can tell you that the ticket pricing of > Rs. 1,000/- is way too high for ODIs. Even the average Mumbaikar cannot shell out so much money for an ODI.

    The greedy BCCI should cut down ticket prices to get large crowds in.

    Also, I noticed my nephew watching the game on DD National ( a free channel in India) instead of Neo Sports (who have got the rights).

    Things might've been better if the games had been staged in Southern venues like Bangalore and Chennai but it is the rainy season in south India this part of the year.

    And lastly (though it might offend a few people on here); the Aussies, Pakistanis and Saffers are much better crowd-pullers in India than the Poms. None but steadfast sadists would pay good money to watch the hapless Englishmen getting beat time and again in India.

  • Comment number 27.

    "It is simple, there is just too much cricket."

    I think Vinod Deshpande is right. I used to follow the Indian Cricet team whenever they were playing. When growing up in India, I remember making any number of excuses to be in front of the telly to watch India play. For the first time in my life, after we won the world cup, i did not follow the tour of the West Indies and didnt even know the Champions League was on until someone at work asked me about it. There is definately an overkill going on. The rich corporates along with the BCCI are using cricket for making rich people even richer. The Planning Commission recently defined earning of Rs 35/- per day as enough to keep an India citizen above the poverty line. This is ridiculously low but if one thinks about a cheapest cricket ticket for Rs 1,000, it is easy to understand how many people are being excluded from the game. Cricket is becoming a corporate money making machine, that only rich people, ministers, foreigners with money and filmstars can afford to watch. Lavish after games parties and all the shameless showoff of money being splashed out at the IPL only further alienates the game from its support base. As an Indian fan, I find it very repulsive and fear that the game is being taken away from us.

  • Comment number 28.

    I suspect the fans are sick of seeing England against India! It seems a never ending battle, with players dropping by the wayside as the grind goes on, and delivering 2 very one sided series that nobody cares about.

    England are getting just as bad, those meaningless T20 games against the W Indies at the end of the summer, and somehow are managing to play Australia in a one day series next summer, a year before they are back again for the Ashes!

  • Comment number 29.

    #25 HawkEye...

    As far as I'm aware and I know a few of the BarmyArmy they DON'T DO Lord's.

    There are plenty of casual fans who think they're part of it and buy a T-Shirt but the core stick to the out grounds.

    I love Lord's & hate the Oval but it is nothing to do with the Army!

  • Comment number 30.

    People on here seem to have a lot of problem with the scheduling of series, the fact that England have gone straight to India after playing India at home is a good example. Another issue is the fact that games are meaningless. A One Day series is a bit like the England football team playing Germany five times in a row for no particular reason.

    There is one more problem to add to these two that leaves cricket struggling to find a meaning to the endless 'friendly' matches. There simply aren't enough top quality cricket playing nations. The ICC should take a look at what just took place in New Zealand. Instead of trying to stifle the emerging nations the Rugby World Cup included them. And not all the games were as one sided as people might have imagined. New countries need to be embraced for cricket to survive. Take the current situation. In the Caribbean cricket is falling behind Basketball, Football, Athletics; who knows what is going to happen in Pakistan; Bangladesh are still struggling for decent players; Zimbabwe have gone backwards; England have to recruit from around the world. If India begins to turn from cricket the world game is screwed.

    Maybe we could get to a situation where countries have qualifying groups for tournaments. These could be arranged to happen on specific weekends like Tennis do with the Davis Cup. I also think the World Test Championships is an excellent idea. This gives players a reason to make an effort in every Test Series. The rankings and the battle for top spot brought a new dimension to the series between England and India.

  • Comment number 31.

    Even though Englad has won a few test matches, they remain a very poor one day side. Except Mohali, all matches have been totally one sided and predictable. No one wants to sit for a whole day and watch a dead donkey being flogged from all sides. England apart from meaningless verbals have failed to deliver anything remotely exiting for the cricket fans in this series.

  • Comment number 32.

    Some really interesting comments so far. As I prepare to go to Eden Gardens this morning I read in the local paper that only 6 thousand tickets have been bought for today. Even though they suggest with people buying on the day we should get a crowd of at least 25 thousand - that is still not the Eden Gardens crowd I was hoping for. Interestingly there is a suggestion that the T20 in Kolkata on saturday may be sold out. Also some interesting comments about scheduling. One other suggestion here is that playing games during the Diwali festival is not helping crowds with the low Mumbai attendance on sunday partly being blamed on people choosing the shops rather than the cricket. Also talking about football and its growing infuence I read that huge crowds turned up earlier this year here in Kolkata to see Lionel Messi and his Argentina team play an international friendly.

  • Comment number 33.

    As am an indian i have to say that why seats r empty, reason 1.due to the absence our superstars ,2 it is just a one sided match(if england come back in the series with leveling ,no one bothrd about tickets price,there should be housefull,(remember worldcupfinal 1,00,000 for each tiket n black markat) reason3. a bit of matches conducted by icc n recent days (worldcup ,clt,nd ipl by bcci) 4.due to diwali,5. the two countries played each other just b4 two month, 6.if match going intresting more nd more peple come to the stadium after evening I think it is just becoz ofwrong plan of icc that y seats are empty during championsleague,they conducted the match only n banglor and chenni for reducing the expense cost ,they didnt transfer the matchs to other cities hey Adam! indians always welcome ny other type of sports ,not only cricket so why u see the formala 1 cars on the display of shopping complex, i think no other sports can take the position of cricket in our country , i agree with #22 billion's comment that indians always not like to watch 5 day test series,if we watch test series in stadium,nd also inTV our productivity become low he he!! ,f there are 5 series ie 25 days ,think what will happend to our growing nation lol.......

  • Comment number 34.

    Hey Adam footall is famous only in two states out 25 states of our country, one is bangal ( kolkata is the capital of bangal) nd other is kerala (my own state,kochi tuskers kerala) ,now i think u can understand from this dis line why kochi tuskers out of the ipl team

  • Comment number 35.

    @Shafeek, You know there is a state named Goa in India?

  • Comment number 36.

    An interesting blog, the main lesson i learn from this is that, although we in England are very worried about our board compromising all values in order to maximise the £££, we have a long way to go before we reach the level of saturation being pushed by the BCCI and the Indian TV companies!! What they are asking their players to do all year round is quite extraordinary.... No wonder the crowds are dwindling.

    Cmon England! Its been too good a year to end it on a whitewash!!

  • Comment number 37.

    Cricket hasn't been the 'street talk' in India for several years now. Try going out on the street and starting a conversation with strangers about cricket without telling them your profession. Then you'll know what I mean. You'll be amazed how quickly they turn the subject to something else. Everyone but the media and BCCI have noticed.

  • Comment number 38.

    Would you pay 500 pounds to see Andorra, Malta or FYROM being beaten by England at Wembley? Seems doubtful. You'd only go if you have money to burn, or to actually go to Wembley, rather than to the match. It simply has limited appeal. The lack of competitive international cricket certainly contributes to poor attendance figures. If the series was closer, attendance would have been higher.

    Meaningless fixtures do not help. So what you lose a series. You drop a few points on a mostly meaningless log. As it is with all rankings in cricket. That is not peculiar for cricket either. Who cares about the Fifa rankings? The only bit the fan cares for is who wins what tournament, or in the case of the more modest teams (and non-delusional fans), how far one gets in them.

    IPL and CL are private enterprises. India's State based T20 competition is being played as we speak. CL has buy-in from the Australian, South African and Indian Cricket Boards. Hence the preferential treatment shown to the respective countries. Fair? No. Money talks. It is all about the money. And that is not a problem that is peculiar to the BCCI. Ask yourselves why the Windies came over last month for 2 T20Is. It was to save the ECB from financial meltdown, due to breach of contract.

    International cricket is not in a good shape. Either the ICC does something about it, or people start voting with their feet. Focus on the basics, keep the game healthy and sustainable. Good governance is already too much to ask for half of the Full Members' Boards. The game is also marred by unequalities. Dhoni makes more in endorsements than most of the other Test squads combined over their careers! Perfect feeding ground for corruption and match-fixing ..., especially in countries where gambling is illegal or poorly monitored.

    Cricket is a niche sport, like 99% of all sports. Whether that is checkers, darts, curling, snooker, modern archery (I am surprised they have not legalized homing arrows), or pétanque, the sports either appeal to you or they don't. No amount of marketing will change that.
    In fact, the sight of someone like Wayne Rooney in corporate outfit (could you imagine George Best doing something like that?) will turn many a potential fan away from Football.
    There is no pleasing everyone. Cricket Boards have to accept that. Catering to the biggest denominator has its uses, but can only get you so far.

  • Comment number 39.

    For the record... the 'injured' players you mention are more 'aged' than 'injured'.

    I guess that if no one turns up to these games it will be the end of test cricket as apparently these one dayers pay for the tests...

  • Comment number 40.

    i think India should stop playing cricket at least for one year now.
    dkexplorer.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 41.

    Problem is England team if it was Pakistan team then ground would have been full.
    This England team is so pathetic that it got 15 donkeys in there side who can not bat bowl or field.Who will pay to watch such jokers?
    Even Bangladesh plays much exciting cricket that England team.

  • Comment number 42.

    This series reminded me of the 2007 World Cup, where the locals were also priced out and the cricket has dragged on too long. 50 over cricket was good in England when we had the triangular series and final, but now you end up with 5 or 7 repeat matches which is just too many, and it goes through the motions.
    England at the moment seem to have a first team pool of 20 possibles, rather than a best 11 with 9 back up players.

  • Comment number 43.

    I agree with the points of cost of ticket & too much cricket, but, there is a very big factor that many people are being turned off by and that is "flat pitches".
    Everyone wants to see a match being played on even terms & the best team win's, but, with different pitches all over the world the game is not even, its more like asking a thoroughbred horse who runs on turf to run on dirt or vice versa. To some manageable degree ICC should have some standards of the condition of a pitch. Thoroughbred race tracks import thousands of tonnes of dirt/soil from another part of the world so that the condition to some extent is comparable to another track.
    Looking at this last 2 series between England & India with extremely opposite results piont to that. Incidently in todays Hindustan Times Somshuvra Laha, writes the follows:Former national selector and wicketkeeper Kiran More told HT: "Overall, the batsmen have done fairly well during Powerplays but kudos to the English for bowling well. Sadly, the wickets in India have not allowed them to be effective."

  • Comment number 44.

    Although the atmosphere at Eden Gardens last night was very good, according to the "Times of India" today the crowd in Kolkata was the lowest ever for an ODI involving India. Cricket Association of Bengal Treasurer Bablu Ganguly is quoted as saying the turnout was "around 20,000" But he also reveals that according to official figures only 5,758 tickets were bought from counters. The rest of the crowd had received free tickets. The association distributes 24,000 free tickets among its affiliated units - but Ganguly admits "only 18,000 of them were picked up". When the World Champions chasing a 5 -0 victory can attract less than six thousand paying customers with even some free tickets rejected, there has to be a problem somewhere.

  • Comment number 45.

    It has everything to do with England's abysmal record in ODIs in India. Why would you think anyone will shell out 1000 bucks for watching a team which is guaranteed to lose the match even before it has started? Just one win in last 17 ODIs in India ...

  • Comment number 46.

    Pitches differ all over the world. Should we only stick to Test venues at altitude? Or only on sea level? What kind of winds? What kind of climate? All kinds of things you cannot control, and will influence the degradation of the pitch.

    And most ODI teams are backyard bullies, just like most Test teams are backyard bullies (England's away record is not the most impressive to say the least - the real test is if they can make away series go their way, and win Test series in the subcontinent and wipe out the blot of the WI loss of 2009).

    The only exception is Australia, who seem to be capable of winning ODI series everywhere, and have done so in the past 4 years (including in India, albeit not in the last series they played there).

    Besides, we could not even get agreement on what the standard pitch would be, let alone which ball to use for Tests. Should it be the standard Indian pitch or the standard English pitch?

  • Comment number 47.

    Many reasons for low crowd
    1)Diwali week - equivalent of Christmas in India. Everyone went to meet their relatives. TV viewing is better option in that case.
    2)Lack of competition from England side. The series was already won 3-0..the glamour of 4th game was lost due to that.
    3) Sachins absence was big factor ...Cricket and BCCI in general became billionaires only after advent of Sachin.
    4) Tickets are normally priced high. Few of my friends did not try for tickets assuming they were sold off as usual.
    5) TV coverage was higher ...again due to Diwali because its more fun watching at home on TV with loved ones rather than go to crowded stadium

 

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