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Empty seats challenge cricket authorities

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David Bond | 06:50 UK time, Wednesday, 18 August 2010

For the first time since 1986, the first day of a Test match at The Oval is not sold out.

With England already 2-0 up in the four-match series, there are 5,000 seats available for Wednesday and 2,000 for Thursday.

Many will say it is a local issue and blame a one-sided series at the end of a sporting summer dominated by football's World Cup.

They will also point to ticket prices, which, critics claim, are now too high. That is undoubtedly part of the problem and might explain why the second Test at Edgbaston was not a sell-out, even though half the ground was closed for redevelopment.

But prices are set high because the grounds which stage Test matches have to recoup the millions of pounds they now pay the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for the privilege of staging Tests.

Empty seats at the second Test at EdgbastonThere were plenty of empty seats for the second Test at Edgbaston. Photo: Press Association

According to a report by Deloitte, commissoned by the nine grounds which stage international matches in England and Wales, the combined cost to those grounds of bidding and staging games will have risen from £5.4m in 2006 to £17.5m next year.

Having also invested £150m on improving facilities over the last decade, the income is too important for their survival to risk missing out. To prove the point, last year the Ashes and the West Indies matches generated almost £50m in revenue.

By giving more counties the chance to stage Test matches, the ECB has guaranteed more income for the whole of the sport in this country.

It has also led to more matches - and that risks devaluing the product. As Paul Sheldon, the chief executive of Surrey puts it, cricket is in danger of killing the goose which laid the golden egg.

But is the sight of empty seats at English Test grounds evidence of a far wider global problem for the game, as the old order struggles to contend with the forces of modernisation?

The rise of Twenty20 cricket and the growing financial influence of the Indian Premier League have demonstrated there is a huge appetite and growing market for the game - especially in the subcontinent.

But the new form of the game has not only enriched the world's best players, turning their priorities upside down in the process, it has exposed frailties at the heart of Test cricket.

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Michael Vaughan has suggested a two-tier Test league

The answer, according to former England captain Michael Vaughan, is to introduce a new two-tier league format for Test cricket, with the best five teams in the world playing each other and the rest battling it out in a second division.

That would help improve the competitiveness at the top and would help reintroduce sport's magic ingredient - uncertainty.

It would also go against the International Cricket Council's aim to raise the standard of the sport in all Test-playing countries.

After more than 130 years of history, Test cricket is unlikely to vanish any time soon.
And the prospect of another Ashes series down under this winter will soon turn this cluttered summer into a distant memory.

But the challenge for the most conservative of sports is to modernise while preserving its great sense of tradition.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    In my view it is ticket prices. I refused to pay £80 for a decent seat at the Lords Test. I am a self-employed professional who does not work for the taxpayer. For the gentleman I would have gone with he had no problem - he had a large NHS salary plus private work.

    Take less from the Test match grounds and get the seat prices down. Better to have a full ground with content punters than a part empty ground caused by too high prices. I do not believe that what has turned out to be a one-sided series so far makes any difference. Pakistan are stll a class outfit and a day out at a Test is a wonderful day out.

    I watch on sky - no extra cost to my subscription.

  • Comment number 2.

    what a 'nothing' article! thanks for the inside there david! test cricket is more popular in england than anywhere else in the world, if you're looking for challenges to test cricket you won't find them at the oval.

    a major factor in test cricket's relative decline over here is that NONE of it is screened on free-to-air tv. it's all sky. then there's the prices... easy fix in my opinion

  • Comment number 3.

    *insight

  • Comment number 4.

    I love test cricket and used to go to at least a couple of tests a summer. However, as there have become more grounds involed, although there are more tests in total there have been less at the more accessible grounds for me.
    This combined with rising travel costs and ticket prices has effectively priced me out of going to so many test matches and waiting for the big ones against India, Pakistan, Austrailia or South Afica to come to my nearest ground.
    Furthermore whereas I used to take time off to attend a match I'm not going to take time off to watch on Sky and therefore have less exposure to the game.
    I then become more likely to attend a cheaper (but still poor value) one day or 20 over match so I can see some live cricket, although I would prefer to attend a test.

  • Comment number 5.

    The big problem is the over saturation of cricket. I hope the ECB feel stupid about the gluttonous way in which it has tried to over do the 20 20 matches this season leading to many matches being played in front of 1 - 3,000 people, which is not the point!

    ECB have put themselves in a hole and the counties with them, by encouraging so many test match level grounds to be built. I mean, 4 test matches against pakistan of all people? just after they have played 2 against australia? They are already back home in their minds and in the way they are playing, its obvious, Asif has said as much.

    Profit will always be a factor but these days, it is the chief factor in decision making by those up top and even though in the past 5 years it has been clear to everyone that far too much (mediocre) cricket is being played both internationally and in england. While the profit margins reflect positively, the ECB/ICC they will absolutely continue to try and squeeze in as much cricket as they can without really caring about the obvious pitfalls.

  • Comment number 6.

    Cricket, and the state of, is just another reason for me to continue my decade long boycot of anything to do with Sky.

    They've already ruined football.

    Football and cricket. Two sports I spent the majority of my childhood following. Made possible because it was cheap enough for my father to pay for me and him to go and watch, all over the country. I remember one season following Notts we did'nt miss one match, home or away. I feel both sports have been taken away from me now. It's like having your childhood robbed. If I wanted to take my nipper to every game home and away I'd need a second mortgage.

    That brings me on to my second point. The fact that football and cricket back in the 80's (when I worrah nipper) were affordable to watch and therefor kids watched it, caught the bug and wanted to play. Thats where your generations of future players came from. By pricing people out of the game, they are killing the game's future. But its alright, because some guy who digs monopolies has fat pockets. So its end of discussion and have a nice day.

  • Comment number 7.

    So, grounds are pressured into cripplingly expensive upgrades in the hope that they will be granted the staging of more and more high-profile matches. The ECB sells the rights to the ground at an unrealistic fee and ticket prices go through the roof to fund the grounds' investment. Result: lots of devalued international cricket which few can afford to watch.
    I didn't realise that Bernie Ecclestone was a cricket fan...

  • Comment number 8.

    i looked at getting tickets for the 1st days play at lords which falls 1 day before my 30th birthday. this i thought would be a wonderful way to sigh out of my 20`s but at 90 pounds per ticket it ended up being imposable. even if i could justify paying 90 pounds for my ticket the extra cost of getting to London and then the days expenses of beer and food it quickly becomes a 200 pound day and that is just stupid!

  • Comment number 9.

    Ah, Twenty20 is such an easy excuse to blame. It has nothing to do with it. I've been going to Test matches every summer since Headingly 2001, back then we could afford to see a couple of days play, maybe take in Days 2 and 3, you'd see the colourfulness of Day 3 as everyone dressed up and the mixure between tradition and youth on other days.

    Now, its just turning into a corporate exercise, bar a couple of known noisey stands, it's becoming the sort of event only afforded by the better off and it's incredibly frustrating. There was not an Ashes Test at Old Trafford last summer because they would not be blackmailed by the ECB over prices. They recognised who their core market where and now they get stuck with Bangladesh and a couple of ODI's for a ground with our incredible track record at in recent years.

    Sky don't help, people think football crowds are ok, but if that is the case why don't Blackburn Rovers (who subidise seat prices using TV money) fill their ground every week? Because who wants to watch Blackburn Vs Stoke when it's Man Utd vs anyone on the tele. People miss this because it isn't see as a problem. If you keep sport away from kids, they won't get into it, I grew up watching the Test Match on the TV, I have memories of watching Devon Malcolm get hit on the head and then take a 9 for, or Donald Vs Atherton, Egdbaston 97 and plenty of other test matches up to Trent Bridge 05. I'd watch them, then as a kid get out in teh garden and play at what I had just seen, skittling my little sisters stumps all over the place, now adays that is more limited and less likely to happen.

    The ECB say that the money is benefiting grass roots, but its not doing so up north, as shown by a questioner on 5Live the other week. All that is happening is like the FA in 1992/93 the ECB saw the cash cow and went after it, we have too much of all products, and it's short term gain thinking, they do not see teh future of the game properly.

  • Comment number 10.

    Yes, a bit of a 'nothing' article but the signs do point to at least a temporary decline in UK Test match attendances. I have to agree about ticket prices being the main reason. Add travel, the amount they charge for car parking, the cost of food and drink at the game and you're talking a fair amount of money. I never understand why they raise ticket prices so dramatically and think it will have no effect? Why don't they keep ticket prices to a reasonable level to ensure the ground is full and then make the money on concessions (surely if they don't own the food and drink stalls they should demand a huge take of the profits).

  • Comment number 11.

    I honestly cannot see how Vaughn's utopian "Two tier" system is viable. The best five test teams in the world playing each other in a league and the remainder slogging it out in the doldrums?

    Where would this top "league" take place? Who are the top 5 teams in the world? Who decides that? ICC rankings? Pfft.

    I am a cricket fan, let it be known, but I do wonder what all the emphasis on international cricket will have at County level....



  • Comment number 12.

    Two phrases come to mind. One is 'oversaturation'. The other is 'ticket prices'. There is undoubtedly two much cricket being played. International players have said so. Organisations like the PCC and FICA have said so. The county players have been quite pointed for the most part about the T20 overkill this season.

    The head men though have other thoughts. Paul Russell for instance:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/counties/glamorgan/8823147.stm

    "And Russell told any cricketers who are feeling the wearying effects of their commitment to T20 cricket to knuckle down to the busy schedule.

    "You are a professional sportsman, you chose this way of life so you do what it takes," he said bluntly.

    "When I was working I didn't particularly like working a 48 hour weekend without sleep to get a contract, but that is the life you choose so those are the things you do."


    I'm sure that's not an isolated attitude. As usual when it comes to cricket and money, Paul Sheldon got quoted. There's a fine example of a side throwing it all in for cash, making it rosy in the balance book whilst letting team performances on the pitch slide drastically.

    The ticket prices are too high. Simple as that.


    Now, Mr David Bond, explain this to me.


    "But the challenge for the most conservative of sports is to modernise while preserving its great sense of tradition."


    How do you judge that one then, David? Cricket as the greatest conservative sport on the planet... Tell me how many Sikhs, Muslims, and blacks you saw at the US PGA Championship this last weekend. Tell me how cricket is inherently conservative compared to football when it comes to technological improvements in decision making, and how cricket suffers from the same racism and violence problems you get in football.

    If not, feel free to peddle the usual tabloid argument that cricket is the refuge of posh upper class schoolboys. I think you'll find more wealthy playboys are all in the Premier League, not batting in the nets.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hold on!!
    Hasn't everyone missed the main reason for why all these seats are empty?
    - It's the PRICES!!
    I blame the blatant commercialism promoted by the likes of SKY/ECB and the rest of them, which is why we should not have TV coverage in the hands of pay-TV for our national sport!
    Basically, this is just all about the greed of commercialism.
    SKY is just a selfish and greedy broadcaster which is just not remotely interested in broadening the appeal of the sport or the British public!
    Just look at what happened in 2005 with the Ashes victory - this was because the cricket was available to everybody and on network TV etc
    What happened after that has been a total disgrace by the government allowing the TV rights to be sold to the highest bidder!
    I'm glad to say that the last government has reversed that decision in it's last period of office. At least that's a step in the right direction in my opinion!

  • Comment number 14.

    It's simple economics. The ECB feel that prices are inelastic, when in fact, in many series they are elastic.

    I've heard that most of the tickets are going for around £80. Think of a family of four wanting a day out, that would be £320 for one day, hardly a viable day out, no chance of being able to afford 4/5 days of a test. With the lack of cricket on free to air TV no wonder enthusiasm seems to be waining.

    In 2005 with Channel 4 coverage, the whole country seemed to be talking about the Ashes, in 2009 and Sky covering the series hardly anyone seemed to have noticed that we'd won them.

    I agree with an earlier post about ECB overkilling the Twenty20 tournament. It was the highlight of the summer, now they play so many matches that there is less interest, again, the lack of free to air coverage has lost many newer cricket fans.

    I have to say I am yet again disapointed with your blog David. You state the obvious and provide no insight, I am starting to learn not to expect better from BBC's lead editors/chief writers, though it is good to see you have finally writen about a sport that isn't football.

  • Comment number 15.

    Get ready for this article to be regurgitated on a regular basis for the next 3-5 years.

    1. The fixture schedule has been set for at least the next 3 years (ECB, SKY & ICC) so there will be over supply at the current prices.

    2. Prices can only go up due to the VAT increase in 2011

    I love my cricket and prefer to either play or watch local cricket the international cricket is usually on the telly (I won't pay for SKY). The ECB(CA) does a decent job in promoting the coaching structure and I recommend being a volunteer coach instead of watching one sided mismatches with the occasional turn-up.

  • Comment number 16.

    11. At 09:02am on 18 Aug 2010, Im gonna be Hodge wrote:

    I honestly cannot see how Vaughn's utopian "Two tier" system is viable. The best five test teams in the world playing each other in a league and the remainder slogging it out in the doldrums?

    Where would this top "league" take place? Who are the top 5 teams in the world? Who decides that? ICC rankings? Pfft.

    ---

    I totally agree that this is not viable. England are currently ranked what, 5th? So what would happen if we dropped to 6th?

    If that happened you'd have England in the bottom tier and Australia in the top, as a result the Ashes wouldn't be competed. Still think it's a good idea?

    What would happen in countries like Bangladesh, who are improving. Currently their players have series against the likes of Australia to look forward to and give them an incentive to improve. If they are only playing against sides that top quality then yes their results may improve, but would their performances?

    If you were to split it into two tiers I would split it in such a way that you still had to play everyone in a 2/3 year period, however you played more tests against the teams in your tier, which is almost what happens anyway for England. For example you play 2 tests against Bangladesh and 5 against the Aussies.

  • Comment number 17.

    It's a bit harsh to blame 20/20 or Sky (wholly) or the ECB. I'm a huge cricket fan and up to 2006 attented one or two days of a Test match every year for about 10 years. I'm certain a big problem is ticket prices as many many people (myself included) are priced out - it would cost me well over £150 to see a single days play with my wife and son - a lot of money for a day out.

    As I understand it, the ECB do not set the prices - grounds bid a certain amount and those which bid the most get the test match. Hence the counties have to balance the amount they can bid with the amount they are likely to earn in ticket sales over 5 days. At the moment they bid high, pass that on to the punters. Since the post-Ashes boom in 2005 that's worked fine as the interest has been there to keep enough people willing or able to pay those inflated prices. Now with a summer full of poor opposition (Bangladesh and Pakistan hardly set pulses racing), three or four-five years of reduced exposure/profile due to the game only being seen on Sky (compare the audiences for the final deciding Ashes test in 2005 vs 2009) and further increased prices cricket has finally hit the point where there aren't enough people who are sufficiently interested in a one sided series or sufficiently well off to buy a ticket. How to solve it? Two choices, drop ticket prices (problem is no county will do this as they have to bid less to the ECB and risk not getting a Test), or re-invigorate interest by better planning (ensure one marque test series per summer) or giving over a couple of tests to terrestrial TV?

  • Comment number 18.

    I think there's just too much cricket. A lot of people actually play cricket as well as watch, so have all their club fixtures to think about and pay for (not to mention those that need to organise teams). I haven't got the time to fit it all in, not if I'm interested in seeing my wife or friends outside of cricket at all.

    The prices are high, but prices of everything are high at the moment so that doesn't worry me too much. Just cut down the fixtures - reduce the number of one day games, and the game will become more special, and more people will be inclined to pay for the privilege

  • Comment number 19.

    Echoing the others - it's the prices.

    Twenty20 will "kill" Test cricket only in the sense that the former is the only form of professional cricket many youngsters will have wished and been able to afford to go and watch.

    If children don't grow up watching Test cricket, they won't want to watch it and they won't want to play it. We might be able to get enough South African born batsmen to fill the gaps, but we can't fill the stands with South African born fans.

  • Comment number 20.

    I am a 22 year old who thoroughly enjoys test match cricket, i have been to the oval or lords every year for a test since, well i ... as long as i can remember with either dad or more recntly mates.

    However, this year we are not going, one due to the fact more and more games are played on tues, weds etc and not the traditional days, take a day off on the friday and have a long weekend, not anymore.

    Also since the price of a ticket is crazy, i cannot afford to buy any of the food which lords prices so fairly, i think im right in saying something like £5 - £6 for a sandwhich!!!

    Anyway, yes, tickets are to expensive as is the whole day, and with pay cuts and mates unemployed, i wont be supporting england in any form of the game at a live venue this year.

    Shame on the ECB and their money grabbing ways

  • Comment number 21.

    A number of points which a few of you have already covered, but having been to the Edge on Day2 and seeing the lack of Saturday crowds and atmosphere was disappointing.

    1 - David, the blog could have a lot more depth, especially with what does the ECB do with this money? How much does it cost to go through this process of bidding (for counties, ECB, lawyers etc)

    2 - The ECB are meant to be looking after the interests of the game, instead of taking money at source, why cant the contracts for staging a test be something like. 10% of profit goes to ECB, 20% of profit goes to local coaching initiatives, 20% of profit reserved for county development of youth teams etc etc.
    It cost me about 150 quid for my day out, and it was my 40th I wanted my brothers to be there - one of them (who works for the NHS - post 1) couldnt afford the train and ticket.

    3 - You can give counties packages choices over 2 years. So one 'Good' Test side + 2 average ODI's or 2 average tests of 1 Good ODI etc, this then balances out that the Aussies and Indians will go to all parts of the countries for ODI's or Tests.

    4 - London virtually always having 2 tests and ODI's - links to point 3 as well. Get over the nostalgia!

    5 - Give venues 5 yearly test & ODI / T20 commitments so they can make business plans on restructuring

    6 - Having Day 4 on a Saturday - Why? The players will be on the golf course by then.

    7 - And the one that gets my goat the most - SKY, agree with most of the comments that have already been mentioned - get the kids watching it on TV!

  • Comment number 22.

    I forgot an additional point. I have bought some tickets for Adelaide at 20 quid a piece - I hope to attend for 4 days, which will be the same price for attending the Oval today.. please explain?

  • Comment number 23.

    AndyPlowright has hit the nail on the head, IMO.

    I have no great cricketing memories that i can replay in my mind from the 2009 ashes win. Yet I can rememeber Gooches 333, getting hammered by the Aussies in 89, Gowers languid drives, Bothams massive club masquerading as a bat, Butchers 100 on the last day against Headingly vs The aussies in 01, getting inside Old Trafford (just) for the last day in 2005, all because I watched them. And those memories keep me in love with the game. My kids will never have that because I can't afford Sky or Test match tickets any more.

  • Comment number 24.

    22. At 09:36am on 18 Aug 2010, Leidens_SS wrote:

    I forgot an additional point. I have bought some tickets for Adelaide at 20 quid a piece - I hope to attend for 4 days, which will be the same price for attending the Oval today.. please explain?

    ---

    My mate, currently in Australia is taking great pleasure in boasting about the fact that he's got tickets to 4 days of all of the winters tests for only a little more than it would cost to watch all of one test against Pakistan here this summer... surely the ECB have gone wrong somewhere!

  • Comment number 25.

    It's a total no brainer ticket prices simple as that. I've always been a season ticket holder at the football but went to a number of cricket matches at Lancs and a couple of England games there also. Only 5 years ago I paid about £30 for an ashes ticket and yet last year when we looked at prices for Headingley they were £80. This smacks of the ECB or the clubs trying to milk it for all it's worth and quite rightly people will refuse. The same situation with the 20/20 where I refuse to pay £40 for a ticket at Old Trafford when I paid half that a few years ago and i can pay a tenner to watch a Lancs 20/20.

    The Clubs will point to football as a comparison and say people pay £50 for 90 mins so it's good value but that is missing the point. If you more than double the price of a sport that has always been excellent value for money surely you will suffer the consequences and how can anyone be surprised?

  • Comment number 26.

    The ECB need to have a good long look at themsleves, their stategy and most importantly what 100% of cricket lovers in this country are saying.

    It is time the system changed. The ECB argue that all these prices, the massive TV bids and the pointless and congested calender is necessary to fund "grass roots cricket".

    Grassroots cricket, as outlined above many times, is not about cash at county clubs. It is about young kids getting inspired by watching cricket happen, whether on TV or live. Both are now unavailable. It becomes horribly obvious that the only real motivation in all this is to get some lovely cash out of it all.

    Ok, so maybe these turkeys won't vote for christmas anytime soon, but surely they can understand some basic business speak; namely that selling 30,000 tickets at £30 makes you more money than selling 4,000 tickets at £80?

    And please journalists, dont blame Twenty20 - its such a lazy arguement. Twenty20 has got nothing to do with the decline in test cricket - since when did the two become mutually exclusive?

  • Comment number 27.

    Vaughan's idea is an absolutely dreadful one. If the counties' problem is one of financial security then how is destabilising test cricket by introducing promotion and relegation going to help matters? If England were to be relegated to a lower tier they would face a period of playing tests against only the lower ranked teams creating even more problems with test match ticket sales. This smacks of an idea thought of on the hoof rather than one that should be given any serious consideration.

    More worthy of comment is Martin Crowe's idea unveiled last year (see http://www.cricinfo.com/ci-icc/content/story/426001.html) for an annual test championship that would add context to every game and provide a showpiece final that Test cricket sorely lacks. This is much more of a realistic proposal than Vaughan's.

  • Comment number 28.

    I'm with all those who said it's an access thing. The fact that IPL TV audience figures in the UK quadrupled when it moved from Setanta to ITV4 shows that there is still an appetite for cricket of any kind. Sadly that may well be the only way a lot of British kids get to see cricket, which may then consequently breed the attitude that T20 is the only type of cricket worth bothering about and reduces enthusiasm for Test cricket. Sadly however with the Powers That Be being in a certain person's pocket I doubt that's going to change any time soon.

    I'd also like to see more Tests go north of Birmingham - rather than having to 'buy' your Test from the ECB, surely a rota system for each Test or ODI is a much better policy, to give more people opportunities to see the matches and also to see a wider variety of teams. As would be a discount policy, say 20-30% off for under 25s to encourage more young people to attend cricket matches, and playing matches over the weekend so less need to take time off work.

    (Although, re: food, I've sadly never been to a Test match in my life, but can you not just smuggle in your own sandwiches?)

  • Comment number 29.

    I agree with the above comments - ticket prices are too high, and I think Sky have successfully ruined the level of interest in cricket in this country since they took over after the 2005 ashes.

    One thing I can still not understand is, why on earth are the ECB starting a test match on a Wednesday?! in the last 3-4 years since they started some matches on Wednesdays, far too many of them have finished early, meaning in many cases the ECB missing out on a whole weekends revenue. Same applies to this match, the weather forcast for the weekend is looking good, and I'm sure it'll be a great atmosphere at the Oval if the games still going on, but judging by the batting form of the 2 teams involved, its fairly unlikely we'll see 5 days play (unless its a really flat track).
    I think its a very innappropriate tact from the ECB to start these matches on a Wednesday, I expect the main reason being to get an extra day of corporate customers in, but us true cricket fans that have to work during the week miss out completely.

  • Comment number 30.

    At 09:51am on 18 Aug 2010, Angusgus wrote:
    Ok, so maybe these turkeys won't vote for christmas anytime soon, but surely they can understand some basic business speak; namely that selling 30,000 tickets at £30 makes you more money than selling 4,000 tickets at £80?

    Agree, also how much does it cost to market the unsold tickets. Lets bring it back to basic economics,find out what the average punter will pay and charge that! And make sure you have a decent advertising campaign (free for all TV coverage would just about do it!) and off you go.

  • Comment number 31.

    Why on Earth would people go and watch a Pakistan vs England Test Match?

    1. The vast majority of Cricket playing nations now favor the One Day or 20/20 game.
    2. England have made no secret of the fact their priority is the Ashes
    3. The last two tests have been very one sided
    4. High prices for tickets
    5. Loss of National identity. Team Director is from Zimbabwe, Spin Coach is from Pakistan! Andrew Strauss, Matt Prior, Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott, Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb all born in South Africa! Morgan is Irish and Eoin Shah was born in India! The likes of Morgan and Ed Joyce switching countries!

    Sadly Test Cricket has descended into farce and obscurity.

  • Comment number 32.

    Since test cricket moved to Sky TV it has become a lost sport slipping from the national conscience. It's been buried on pay to view TV and is simply gone for all but the few die hards who subscribe. As recently as 2005 test cricket was openly discussed, commented upon and analysed in pubs, bars, restaurants etc. and was an active living thing. Now I never hear it mentioned, not once this summer have I heard a anybody express an opinion about the test matches - they've simply vanished.

  • Comment number 33.

    32. At 10:15am on 18 Aug 2010, Guzzie wrote:

    Since test cricket moved to Sky TV it has become a lost sport slipping from the national conscience. It's been buried on pay to view TV and is simply gone for all but the few die hards who subscribe. As recently as 2005 test cricket was openly discussed, commented upon and analysed in pubs, bars, restaurants etc. and was an active living thing. Now I never hear it mentioned, not once this summer have I heard a anybody express an opinion about the test matches - they've simply vanished.


    ---

    I know the feeling, I was in a pub during the first test against Pakistan. I had watched many a test match there, however when I asked them if they were planning on showing the cricket the landlord wasn't even aware that there was a series going on.

  • Comment number 34.

    More lazy journalism with no real insight.

    20/20 has no negative bearing on the attendance of this or any other test match. The reasons are entirely due to the circumstances right now. Tickets are expensive, fewer people have spare cash. Remember as well that the British based Pakistani community have already shelved out to watch their team in England this summer so that will take a hit.

    Prices have gone up because every county is now trying for test matches and are involved in an arms race of sorts with spending upgrading facilities. We can not accomodate so many test arenas in this country without having stupid prices.

  • Comment number 35.

    Oh dear, oh dear.

    People always say how they could afford it when they were younger blah, blah, blah.

    Ofcourse ticket prices have increased dramatically - the rise of cricket as a mainstream sport has meant that Test Match tickets can now be tiered into subcategories such as very good/good/average.

    Pay for what one you can afford - your paying for the atmosphere and the drama of being there! If you can't afford, or won't pay, then enjoy the game using free services such as bbc sports text commentary.

    IT'S VERY SIMPLE.

    Going to a test match is a special occasion, those who wish to go for 3 or 4 days either have a the money to do so, or love the sport so much they do not worry about what it costs.

    As for the ground redevelopments, many counties would have been waiting until a significant opportunity came along (i.e. the chance to hold international test on a regular basis {over-saturation some of you call it}) before commiting the the expense with the knowledge that they to do have partially-succesful chance of recouping some of the money from the tests.

  • Comment number 36.

    Perhaps if the ECB spent less money on 'commissioning' very expensive agencies like Deloitte to work out for them that they need bums on seats at Test matches, they could charge a bit less and get more people in!

  • Comment number 37.

    Lets be honest Test matches have no purpose either as competitive matches there has never been any proper test structure unlike one day and 20-20. Get rid of test matches altogether and run more one day games they are more lucrative anyway as if the result is in no doubt by about day 3 nobody will pay to go to the last days of a test.

  • Comment number 38.

    Sadly, the situation will not change as long as Giles Clarke is in charge. He has unapologetically chased Sky's money claiming its for the grass roots while at the same time increasing ticket prices for eveything. He is rich, as are all his friends. He has probably never met a poorer person so has no concept of how few of them attend cricket. I could afford prices at Kent in the 70s and early 80s with my pocket money. My son with an £18 paper round can barely afford to get into a game for that.
    As with football, cricket is now lost to the majority of the country.

  • Comment number 39.

    2 years ago, the first day at Lord's for the South Africa Test was £60 per ticket (Edrich Upper). Last year, for the Ashes Test, the price was £90.
    Whilst I can understand the higher price last year being due to increased demand for Ashes tickets, the decision to leave the prices at the same level for the Pakistan series in 2010 was a poor one, driven by greed.
    Hopefully the empty seats will be a reminder that we are not stupid and that we know value when we see it.

  • Comment number 40.

    Ticket prices are way too high, and players are now selling their souls to the TV devil!
    However, my main reason for NOT attending test matches is quite simple: Why should I fork out a huge amount of money to sit next to a beer-filled load of yobs dressed as superman or nuns, continually chanting "Barmey army"?
    Test match crowds have become the new soccer fans, with absolutely no interest in what's happening on the field of play. The language is disgusting, (and if one or two were to be arrested that would cure it). Young fans should not be subjected to the rantings of these idiots.
    The players and media should take some responsibility for this, as they seem to idolise the self-styled Barmey Army morons.
    Sort out the yobs, ban drinking at games, reduce prices, and I'll come back.

  • Comment number 41.

    I used to watch cricket a lot in my youth but have not been to a game for years but recently with the success of the England team i have been considering going but having found out the cost have changed my mind.

  • Comment number 42.

    31. At 10:15am on 18 Aug 2010, JamTay1 wrote:
    5. Loss of National identity. Team Director is from Zimbabwe, Spin Coach is from Pakistan! Andrew Strauss, Matt Prior, Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott, Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb all born in South Africa
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Rubbish- they all have English parentage (or in the case of Kiewswetter, British)

    I saw a German team at the football World Cup play Sami Khedira (ethnic Tunisian), Cacau (adopted Brazilian), Mesut Ozil (ethnic Turk), Piotr Trochowski, Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski (all ethnic Poles, born in Poland) They thrashed our football team 4-1 and I'm sure most sports fans thought what a breath of fresh air they were. Germany has large Polish and Turkish emigrant population. We live in a globalised world.

    I'm sorry but this whole 'team of South Africans' stuff has been exaggerated and is nonsense.

    It's all about the class of people who play cricket, in my view. Sons of rich mummies and daddies who had 'business interests' in South Africa during the 70s and 80s and married South African partners. Cricket is a mainly middle class sport.

    The issue of Irishmen and Scotsmen playing for England has always been there because they don't have Test status as countries. If you're Irish, or Scottish, and you're good enough, why shouldn't you be able to play Test cricket? It's already the England and Wales Cricket team, so why shouldn't it be UK & Ireland?

  • Comment number 43.

    We can always point to the excitement that a series against Australia brings and say that Test cricket is still alive and well. The problem is that T20 and the volume of poor international cricket means that outside of the Ashes test cricket in England is in trouble. Playing tests so early each summer doesn't help either.

  • Comment number 44.

    Lol nothing to do with the fact that Cricket is the most dull, bland, boring sport on the planet

  • Comment number 45.

    A lot of random blaming going on on this blog. At one time I would have agreed that cricket should stay on terrestrial, but it’s just not practical. Test Cricket takes too much time out of the schedules, and – Ashes aside – doesn’t generate the viewing figures to justify that. And then it rains, the day gets extended, and the host channel has to move around its evening schedule. All these people getting nostalgic about the good old days of the BBC – yeah, right. Over to Doncaster for the racing, and you miss Dominick Cork taking a hattrick. The coverage is much, much better on Sky – and uninterrupted. It’s not their fault crowds are going down.

    Prices are a major factor – it’s certainly got too expensive. And there’s definitely far too much cricket played – I agree with everything Andy Plowright says (in fact I always do! He’s also completely right about this nonsense about Cricket being “the most conservative” of sports – what a load of ordure that is!)

    But let’s not overestimate the problem. A world cup summer – and, since South Africa, we’ve had two series against Bangladesh, and one against a tenth rate Pakistani side. The test cricket available just hasn’t been very inspiring, and it’s been surrounded by a load of meaningless one day stuff. A good, competitive Ashes down under will soon revive interest.

    Oh – and Vaughan’s idea. I’ve got the greatest respect for him, but it’s a dumb idea. World cricket is the lesser for the lack of a powerful Windies and a powerful Pakistan. And Vaughan’s idea could just about destroy them if their home crowds don’t get to see them competing against the world’s best teams.

  • Comment number 46.

    Three simple reasons why this summer's matches aren't attracting full houses:

    1) Financial - tickets are expensive, and then the additional costs (car park, food, drink) add up to make it a very expensive day out. Add to which the current economic state, and many people not having as much disposable income as 3 or 4 years ago, it's not that big a surprise that attendances are down.

    2) The quality of matches - Obviously the Bangladesh series was a mis-match, but it has been sad to see one of the traditionally strong countries in Pakistan being so uncompetetive with the bat in English conditions. I don't know if it's the quality of the team or the political side of Pakistani cricket that is reducing the number of anglo-Pakistani supporters that would usually fill grounds like Edgbaston, The Oval (and Headingley).

    3) Starting matches on a Wednesday is hardly condusive of a great attendance anyway, and during the holiday season when it is harder for those who are not actually away on holiday to take a few days leave. Compare with rugby union, which has a roughly similar profile and a less currently successful national team, but who could sell out Twickenham 3 times over for most of the autumn internationals and 6N matches, all of which are held on the weekend.

  • Comment number 47.

    Phew - where to start!

    It is clear most people think it is just too expensive now. I was lucky enough to be a Lord's for the Aussie one dayer, but only because a generous customer of mine boght me a ticket. It was £90!!! No way would I have paid that for myself.

    I am an Oval regular and always go to a day of the test, but this year I just have said NO. I can't justify paying £60 and take a day off work. It had gradually crept up over the past few years and now I have hit the wall.

    There is also far too much cricket. The 20/20 domestic season was just plain greed and therefore it lost it's appeal. There is value in that, but it needs an overhaul - as does the whole domestic season.

    I think Vaughan is right. There is no value in test series against the likes of Bangladesh. It is time to have an elite test playing club - perhaps Davis cup tennis style where you have to earn the right to play in the top league. England in the early 90's would not have been in it!!



  • Comment number 48.

    I feel that I am banging my head against a brick wall, the reason for the lull in Test Cricket is because the matches are not on free to air television. People still enjoy watching England but the passion is not there whenever they win because people can not see it live. Think about the reactions of winning in 2005 when on Channel 4 to 2009 when on Sky. How can anyone get so excited about England whenever they cant see the match live with a bit of highlights on channel 5 at night. Sky should have never been allowed the cricket and it should have remained on BBC or Channel 4.

    To emphasise this point all cricket matches involving Austrailia whether Test, ODI or T20 are on free to air television ensuring everyone can see them play live. So that is why I believe the ECB has sold out for the money and not treating cricket fans with respect they deserve and now they are relient on Skys money as shown because they cant afford to put the ashes on the free to air list.

    If Englands matches is on FTA then people will become interested, sure we see interest in Tennis going through the roof during Wimbledon, Football during World Cup and Rugby Union during Rugby World Cup, So why not England for the Ashes

  • Comment number 49.

    I have been to the Trent Bridge and Edgbaston Tests.

    The standard of Test Cricket is below average overrall and the prices are far to high. Trent Bridge £45 ok, but Edgbaston £60 to sit next to a building site was awful.
    Take in consideration , travelling costs and the high prices of food and drink within the grounds it adds up to be a very expensive day which is just not value for money. I would like to take my son more often to introduce him to Test Match cricket but it is too expensive in an era when we are all cutting expenditure.

  • Comment number 50.

    If a Test match starts on a Thursday as was the norm, there's a fair chance of the working fraternity getting to see some decent cricket on the Saturday or Sunday. The 3rd test is starting on a Wednesday which means, given Pakistan's performance so far, that the game is likely to be over as a contest by stumps on Friday. Who's going to bother buying a ticket in advance for Saturday/Sunday if there's a high risk of them not getting to see any cricket? And even if they do, 'hawkeyethejock' is spot on with regards to the yobs who turn up because apparently their fancy dress party was cancelled. What's that got to do with cricket? If the Sky cameras stopped giving them so much air time (which produces manic 'look-at-me-I'm-a-prat' waving at the big screen) then they might stop it. Sorry - rant over!

  • Comment number 51.

    Couple of points which I would like to add. First, cricket is the only sport which directly suffers from the weather, and because of this I will no longer buy test match tickets in advance, at the current high prices, when there is a good chance that play will be interrupted and chunks of the day being lost. OK, I know that there can be refunds if less than 25 overs are bowled, but whenever I have attended test matches there has always been at least one rain interruption with the net result that overall playing time has been reduced, giving me less 'value' for my cash.
    The other point is SKY TV. Since they took over 100 % coverage of cricket, for which I am not prepared to pay out the huge sums that they ask in subscriptions, the result for me is that I have lost interest. Even the last Ashes series was something remote, compared with 2005. Contrast with football, where free to view coverage still means that there is normally at least one live game shown each week, and interest is thus maintained for everybody. Cricket is the only mainstream sport which offers total exclusion in televising the live game, and this will only have the effect of disenfranchising large swathes of the population, with the result that the game will potentially slip into the status of a minority and fringe sport.

  • Comment number 52.

    The costs are simply too high.

    I go to most england games in london but struggled to find people who were willing to go to this one due to the cost.

    tickets are £58 each.

    no alcohol can be brought in ground which would normally reduce the cost a bit.

    a pint wll be £4.

    A burger and chips will be £9.

    Fish and chips will be £12.

    The queues will be massive. There will be a nonsense hour long break where they stop serving at all bars to restock.

    A typical day per person will cost approx £100 to watch a day of cricket which is just too much.

    Also unlike Lords there is nowhere to go at the break periods apart from the dark covered areas under the stands.

    At a time when the england team has never been so successful and we have so many exciting players - the fact games aren't selling out is a disgrace.

    I got a survey from the oval last year asking for feedback on experience of visiting the ground. Instead of asking questions about what people care about all the questions were about whether signage to the ground was adequate and stewerding.

  • Comment number 53.

    At 10:47am on 18 Aug 2010, Subterranean wrote:

    Rubbish- they all have English parentage (or in the case of Kiewswetter, British)

    I saw a German team at the football World Cup play Sami Khedira (ethnic Tunisian), Cacau (adopted Brazilian), Mesut Ozil (ethnic Turk), Piotr Trochowski, Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski (all ethnic Poles, born in Poland) They thrashed our football team 4-1 and I'm sure most sports fans thought what a breath of fresh air they were. Germany has large Polish and Turkish emigrant population. We live in a globalised world.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    @42 Not sure how your argument makes my point rubbish. I never mentioned where their parents were from. With regards to the German football team, this is a blog on Cricket! Although to the best of my knowledge the Mannschaft have not been reduced to stealing players from other countries as per Joyce and Morgan!

    Yes I am well aware that we live in a globalised world, but a bit of National identity when it comes to Sports would be nice.


  • Comment number 54.

    Vaughn's idea of a two-tier test status is laughable.

    I'd imagine that as long as england were in the top tier, he'd see it as working fine, but if England were 'demoted', I'm sure he'd be the first to call for its abolition.

    A few years ago, after Ireland knocked Pakistan out the World Cup (and Bangladesh did the same to India), Jonathan Agnew wrote that a system must be devised which ensures that both Pakistan and India featured in the Super 8 series. He was (rightly, in my opinion), heavily criticised on here and elsewhere.

    Blaming the lack of big-name opposition for cricket's woes is barking up the wrong tree. Either people want to keep cricket a rather exclusive club (which Vaughn's idea would do), or people want to see the sport grow in popularity around the world.

    But never mind growing in popularity around the world, the current policies of both pricing and number of cricket matches, combined with a lack of free-to-air coverage, means that even domestically, the game hasn't managed to capitalise on some remarkable successes by the English cricket team over the last few years.

  • Comment number 55.

    For me its price. I paid around £15 for day 4 between OZ and SA at the WACA, I was looking at well over £50 for the England v Pakistan series in some places.

    Last time I went to a test I paid £42 at Trent Bridge v New Zealand for the 4th day. It was all wrapped up in around an hour, and naturally there is no refund if the game finishes early. Value for money? No chance.

  • Comment number 56.

    I can only comment on the situation in England. I believe English crowds still want to see test matches but there are four issues:
    - Lack of terrestrial coverage has reduced public awareness.
    - Ticket prices must have an impact for some.
    - Too few competitive sides ... how we miss a strong West Indies.
    - Too much international cricket.
    It's this last one that has reduced my enthusiasm. It is hard to feel the result matters much when the same two sides will be playing each other in another series so soon. (And for that reason I'm against Michael Vaughan's suggestion - if the same sides play more often it will only make it worse.) There is all this media talk about the next Ashes series but it only seems like yesterday when we won it. And with this constant media talk focus on the Ashes since 2005, I'm bored with hearing about it. It has stopped being special, just as the (football) World Cup would be if it was every year.

  • Comment number 57.

    53. At 11:09am on 18 Aug 2010, JamTay1 wrote:
    At 10:47am on 18 Aug 2010, Subterranean wrote:

    Rubbish- they all have English parentage (or in the case of Kiewswetter, British)

    I saw a German team at the football World Cup play Sami Khedira (ethnic Tunisian), Cacau (adopted Brazilian), Mesut Ozil (ethnic Turk), Piotr Trochowski, Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski (all ethnic Poles, born in Poland) They thrashed our football team 4-1 and I'm sure most sports fans thought what a breath of fresh air they were. Germany has large Polish and Turkish emigrant population. We live in a globalised world.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    @42 Not sure how your argument makes my point rubbish. I never mentioned where their parents were from. With regards to the German football team, this is a blog on Cricket! Although to the best of my knowledge the Mannschaft have not been reduced to stealing players from other countries as per Joyce and Morgan!

    Yes I am well aware that we live in a globalised world, but a bit of National identity when it comes to Sports would be nice.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Well Germany have stolen Cacau from Brazil. I have used an example of a German sports team who recently beat one of our national sports teams using players that were not ethnically German or born in Germany. Also their fans seemed very much behind them during the Football World Cup. Cricket, football, whatever- it's sport and its relevant.

    You seem to think players of somehow 'unpure' origin who are not entirely english in your view are undermining the England Cricket Team and killing the interest of cricket/sports fans in the side. The point I'm making - which I think is relevant here on this cricket blog- is that opinion is basically xenophobic, right wing-nationalist rubbish. Have I made it clear?

  • Comment number 58.

    Yes, Clubs need to recoup the money they spend to secure the Tests, but surely it's better to have all the stands full with people happy having paid £20 a ticket than 3/4-empty because people were asked to pay 4 times the price? The net income is exactly the same, but there won't be these questions from the media about whether the game is losing its appeal.

  • Comment number 59.

    The rise in prices is certainly a factor in the lower turnout, especially in the current economic climate. It also was a factor in the lower attendance for 20/20 games this season at some grounds.

    There also seems to be an issue about how the game is promoted to the Pakistani community as there have been fewer supporters for the Pakistani team than was expected.

    I also can't understand the logic of starting a test on a Wednesday. The big days for gates will always be Friday, Saturday, Sunday so why not schedule the game accordingly. This match might be over by Saturday so that would be a massive loss of earnings.

  • Comment number 60.

    I've had a good read of everyone's comments and to be honest I fail to see the problem with 20-20 cricket. At the end of the day it puts bums on seats and that's what counties need. My local team is Glamorgan and their first 20-20 game this season had an attendance of 7,500. When was the last time they got an attendance like that for a 4 day county championship game? County teams need money to survive and also need money to put into academy's to develop new players. Where else is that money going to come from? Also reason attendances are low is yes because prices are too high but also because Pakistan are bloody awful. I wouldn't pay a tenner to watch a one sided game never mind £80!!! I also like whoever mentioned about having a 'UK and Irish' team rather than England but let's face that's never going to happen when media can't even be bothered to ever mention the "and Wales" bit when they're playing.

  • Comment number 61.

    53. At 11:09am on 18 Aug 2010, JamTay1 wrote:
    At 10:47am on 18 Aug 2010, Subterranean wrote:

    Rubbish- they all have English parentage (or in the case of Kiewswetter, British)

    I saw a German team at the football World Cup play Sami Khedira (ethnic Tunisian), Cacau (adopted Brazilian), Mesut Ozil (ethnic Turk), Piotr Trochowski, Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski (all ethnic Poles, born in Poland) They thrashed our football team 4-1 and I'm sure most sports fans thought what a breath of fresh air they were. Germany has large Polish and Turkish emigrant population. We live in a globalised world.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    @42 Not sure how your argument makes my point rubbish. I never mentioned where their parents were from. With regards to the German football team, this is a blog on Cricket! Although to the best of my knowledge the Mannschaft have not been reduced to stealing players from other countries as per Joyce and Morgan!

    Yes I am well aware that we live in a globalised world, but a bit of National identity when it comes to Sports would be nice.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Well Germany have stolen Cacau from Brazil. I have used an example of a German sports team who recently beat one of our national sports teams using players that were not ethnically German or born in Germany. Also their fans seemed very much behind them during the Football World Cup. Cricket, football, whatever- it's sport and its relevant.

    You seem to think players of somehow 'unpure' origin who are not entirely english in your view are undermining the England Cricket Team and killing the interest of cricket/sports fans in the side. The point I'm making - which I think is relevant here on this cricket blog- is that opinion is basically xenophobic, right wing-nationalist rubbish. Have I made it clear?

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    @57 Xenophobic? I resent that accusation, and to resort to name calling does your argument no credit.

    I am purely stating that in my opinion it is better for National Sport for teams to be comprised of Players, Managers and Coaches from their own Nation. Otherwise why bother having National teams? You might as well just play Test Matches between County teams!

  • Comment number 62.

    It's great that Test matches are being held in different parts of England and Wales but the whole bidding process seems flawed to me. Counties are risking their very futures in the hope of hosting the odd Test match by bidding extortionate amounts for the privelige. Then the only way to recoup the money is to hike up the ticket prices and pray that the punters will still pay up. I see what their argument is when you compare a whole days Test cricket to a 90 minute football match and look at the ticket prices. But it's still less of an outlay in one go to pay for a ticket to a Premier League match than it is for a day's cricket. It's definitely something that needs to be looked into, sadly though I don't see the ECB changing things until one of the counties is close to going to the wall and if that does happen it really will be a sad day.

  • Comment number 63.

    I Agree with the other comments...We have a generation that has missed out as they have not been exposed to live Test Cricket. Football and Rugby will go the same way if we are not careful. National sports should be of free to view TV without question. Surely with all the Sky money slushing around in the sport, ticket prices could be subsidised. If not, where does it all go?

  • Comment number 64.

    I was going to go today but then i saw the prices £50 to sit in thee worst end of the stadium no thanks!

  • Comment number 65.

    first of all I don't believe it is anything to do with a decline in the popularity of test cricket in this country - 20/20 cricket has also seen steep falls in attendance this season as well.

    there are 3 factors which have contributed to poor ticket sales this week at the Oval at Lords next week

    1) ticket prices - it is bad enough for a prestige test series to pay such ridiculous prices, but for Pakistan it is ridiculous.
    This summer I have paid £20 for crystal palace athletics, £25 for Ascot horse racing, £20 for Wimbledon (ground pass) This winter I can pay £32 to watch Arsenal in the Premier League.
    I am not going to pay £70 for a day at the cricket!
    2) the schedule - whoever is in charge of this has not got a clue. 2 neutral tests were arranged when the World Cup had finished, and before the start of the football season. A half decent test series has not got underway until the end of July this year! Added to this the incompetent scheduler has managed to not only arrange back to back London tests but for the Oval to start on a Wednesday!!!
    3) cricket will continue to decline as it is not on free to air TV.
    I predicted this 5 years ago. Why are people so surprised now?
    Attendances have only held up for as long because England has a relatively successful test side at the moment and also because people will pay whatever it takes to see the Ashes.

    I just hope that this game is over by Friday night, it might concentrate peoples minds a little more in the future!

  • Comment number 66.

    This situation is all down to basic economics. Your average fan who wants to go and watch England has a limited budget and then has to decide how he spends it. The problem now is that there is far too much spurious cricket being played. Here is what I would like to know; What is the average age of a spectator at a test match as against a one day match. I suspect the answer will reveal an older spectator attending the former and the younger watcher for the latter. The point here is that the older spectator has a greater appreciation of the nuances of test cricket in addition to a greater disposable income. Through no fault of their own, younger spectators are excited by the prospect of going to watch a match from start to finish on the same day. Naturally, their inclination will be to emulate the cricket which they have just seen. Therefore, test cricket is slowly killing itself because a whole new generation of cricketers is about to emerge with a twenty over attitude to cricket. With regard to the admission prices for the test matches, if I were running one of the test venues, I would sooner have 50% of something than 100% of nothing. The ECB needs to take responsibility here and get as many young spectators in as they can. They will try to emulate what they see and our future may not be quite so bleak. I am an ECB qualified coach and I can tell you that both the numbers and desire of what is coming through is extremely worrying. In the 1980's my school used to take us to see a day's play and it is sobering to reflect that what I saw in a session wasn't much less than what most people now deem to be an entire match. We can all see why twenty twenty was embraced by the authorities but I can't help reflecting that they have cut off their nose to spite their face. The big prize is test cricket and always will be. We lose sight of this at our peril.

  • Comment number 67.

    58 Pounds!!! I live 5 mins from the oval, I walked down thinking about 20 should. I had to turn around and walk home, what is this... the ashes???????

  • Comment number 68.

    @66 - It's free for kids to go watch county championship games at Glamorgan. Still doesn't get as many in as it does for one day or 20-20. No matter what ECB does with ticket prices for juniors they'd still sooner go and watch one day or 20-20. Kids only have a limited attention span and it doesn't last for 4 days!!!!

  • Comment number 69.

    I have watched Test and other forms of cricket for the past 30-odd years. One of my bugbears is the ticketing process - it is daft to have to apply for tickets 9 months before any event, let alone (in my case) the fourth day of a Test match. Cost is also a major factor - the tickets are much too expensive. All things considered, I have passed-up the opportunity to attend on Saturday. One suggestion that I would offfer is to make tickets available on the door at every Test and international match, rather than simply rely on advance sales. One might also consider selling reduced price seats after (say) the tea interval to attract the almost-after-work crowd.

  • Comment number 70.

    i stopped going to Test matches ironically last time Pakistan were here. i was sick to the back teeth of people drinking all day and getting more yobbish as the day progressed. at £50-£60 a ticket my enjoyment lessened with each passing year from the late 90s onwards so 4 years ago i said enough was enough

    before anyone mentions the alcohol free stand. why pay an even higher admission fee to watch from that vantage & it would have meant i couldnt have enjoyed a couple of shandys from that stand

    i watched test cricket for 20 years but will NEVER set foot in a cricket ground again

  • Comment number 71.

    Good response Charles (#66), however I don't wholey agree with your younger generation don't appreciate the nuances of test cricket, I feel that the real reason is more on your second point regarding disposable income. I have not once paid to see an ODI, yet I was at 4 days of the Ashes test in Cardiff last year. I would also be at any game held in Bristol or Cardiff as they are close enough to travel on the day - although obviously Bristol isn't likely to hold a test anytime in the very forseeable. However there is no chance of me, or any of my friends being able to afford to travel to London/Birmingham/Manchester/Nottingham/Leeds to watch a test as the cost of getting there and staying, on top of the price of the ticket is just far too much to justify it.

    Those who compare the price of a Premier League match and the entertainment to that of a test match totally neglect the fact that for that cost you see the whole match. For the price you pay you see all of the action. Where as a ticket to one day of a test you only see a portion of the action. For instance you will leave day 1 probably unsure as to what the outcome will be. Most people who attend one day of a match I would assume would like to attend 3-5 of the days making the associated cost much more expensive

  • Comment number 72.

    #69 - Selling on door is a bad idea since weather would have far too much influence on attendance then. However you're idea of selling in evening is a good one. Centre court at wimbledon allows you to put you're ticket on leaving in a charity box for others to buy making contribution to charity. Not everyone stays whole day so if same policy can be applied at Cricket then would be a good idea.

  • Comment number 73.

    Its no rocket science. Too much Cricket and people do not have the money to pay for it. I think this is also affecting England players who do not get a rest and play county cricket. Overkill too much cricket TV is killing the game.

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    The move to sky has badly affected the profile test cricket,due to the cost of sky,most pubs can no longer afford it, so the overall exposure to the public decreases greatly.It always used to be a such a talking point at the bar "how are England getting on".I also remember during the 2005 ashes,many of my pals who were not even fans jumping and cheering at the fall of an aussie wicket.In 2009 there appeared to be little interest.Sky coverage is very good and I enjoy it,but I am a committed fan.
    Secondly, ticket prices are very high and will dissuade anyone but the somewhat hardened cricket lover.Or those on a jolly,who often dont even bother to watch the game.
    I love going to Lords and will be there next week,tickets now £85 per day,will still be full for first 4 days I imagine,but how many other grounds can do this on a regular basis.

  • Comment number 76.

    #71 - Agree comparison with Premier League football one is a silly one.

    1. Most football grounds in the Premier League hold between 35-40,000 people. Cricket grounds don't. Old Trafford football ground - 75,000 - Old Trafford cricket ground - 20,000. More people means less money needed.

    2. Football is the most popular sport in the world. Test cricket is only played by a small amount of countries. What's more as Ireland is finding out if you want to join 'the club' it is damn hard to do so.

    3. Far more people in the UK play football than cricket.

    4. Cheaper tickets for football tends to be for lower category matches not for likes of Arsenal, Spurs, Man U, Man C, Liverpool, Chelsea or later rounds of the cups.

  • Comment number 77.

    It comes down to simple supply and demand.

    They wanted £76 per ticket where I wanted to sit with friends.
    Against the likes of Australia they will sell more than against the likes of Pakistan so prices have to be reduced in these games.

    I couldnt justify travelling 250 miles each way and £76 for the ticket when on my day off today I can watch it in the comfort of my own home. Its mid August the weather is unpredictable-its getting colder. Even at £58 a ticket its a push

    As earlier posters have said-

    This series is too late in the year. Football(a game that I dont enjoy) will always have the greater popularity so will take spectators away from this series-especially now. they missed a trick with pakvaus being so early

    Even knowing the stadium is not even close to full they keep the prices high on the day. A local lad cant get in unless he stumps up £58. Its almost like a supermarket not reducing their bread late in the day.

    Disposable income is lower at my age scale so the appeal of attending a test match to the younger generation is greatly reduced due to that cost

    20/20 generally draws bigger crowds because the actual sterling cost of a ticket is lower and it appeals more to certain groups of people who are more willing to part with cash. Also they tend to play in conditions that test matches will never be played in. Rain/Poor light. I understand why so am not complaining.

    Im a test junkie but cant justify the cost of the tickets. If the stadium was rammed id have no reason to complain because there were enough people who could afford to

  • Comment number 78.

    I think the cost of tickets and the fact we have 2 pairs of back to back tests in the same parts of the coutry, the first 2 were in the midlands so for those who dont live in the actual city hosting it its the same catchment area, many people will go to one or the other, or maybe both if they are spread out a bit rather than just a few days later.
    Other factors might be that the Pakistan side have been through some trials of late and until this morning havent really looked overly competative.
    Of course the flood of T20 has changed the cricket landscape, they certainly attract the "football fans", what I mean by that is, the fans who when you listen to them chat in the ground clearly dont have much cricket knowledge but are there for the beer and the atmosphere.
    Lack of cricket on mainstream TV may be begining to have the effect we feared, in that people dont have the surrent series in thier minds, the back pages are as usual dominated by football as the new season starts.

    We risk having piles of money in the ECB coffers and no one caring.

  • Comment number 79.

    There is one clear issue here! PRICE!!!! It is way to expensive.

    Make it cheaper and people will come. £25 quid a day and I will be there for all 5 days, if it lasts that long!

  • Comment number 80.

    The cost is the single biggest issue in my book. I used to go to a couple of Tests each year, but the costs are now so high, I cannot afford it. Plus the last couple of times I did go the game was affected by rain so i didn't even see a whole day's play. Test matches are the best to watch in my book, but the people running the grounds and the game, must get a grip on the costs.

  • Comment number 81.

    Play test cricket on days when people who work can actually attend - start them all on Saturdays. This current match may well be over by Sunday when people would have been free to go and see it.

    And play test cricket at times of day when people who work can actually attend - day/night tests. Finishing at 6 pm is just ridiculous if you want the sport to have any spectators beyond the retired, students and people on holiday. How many people would go to the Premiership football matches if they were all played at 2.15 on a Tuesday afternoon?

    The timing of cricket matches is stuck in the Victorian era. If you want people to come to something, schedule it for when they're free. And they're not free today the way they were in the 1880s.

  • Comment number 82.

    This all reminds me of debates in France about why so few people there go to watch top flight football. No one ever realises its because the matches are scheduled for a time - Saturday evenings usually - when men with partners/wives aren't going to be free to go. They look enviously at the attendances in England or Italy but it never dawns on them to just reschedule the games.

  • Comment number 83.

    I am late into cricket although my dad was always a fan. Even he has given it miss this year due to the prices.

    If it was £15-£20 I might have gone. I think the ECB thought puttting on Sky would increase attendances as people would not get the diet of it on free TV. I guess with the recession that has fallen flat.

    But putting it back on the beeb is not going to make a difference. In a way, it shows that cricket punters do vote with their feet if the product is not right.

    I wish footy fans would do the same and maybe some sanity might return to our game.

  • Comment number 84.

    I have been tempted to write to the ECB, as this is an issue that seriously worries me. I was at Edgbaston for the first day of the Pakistan test and it was embarrassing the amount of empty seats in the ground.

    In every other major sport in this country the crown jewel is on terrestrial, i.e. major championships and FA cup in football, Wimbledon for tennis, the Open for golf, six nations and world cup for Rugby, etc... Cricket is the only sport where this is not the case. The last government started to put things right by putting the Ashes home series on terrestrial; however the current government is looking to rescind that in a disgraceful move. I can't see anything that SKY has brought to the coverage, as Channel 4's coverage was excellent.

    This is such a serious issue, that I and I'm sure many others would be grateful if the BBC could do a special report like in the news sections with several articles, deep research and informed comment. I feel this would raise the profile of this issue immeasurably, and would hopefully kick the ECB into actually thinking long term as opposed to short term.


  • Comment number 85.

    What utter nonsense. Test cricket's popularity is not in decline whatsoever in this country.

    You just need to look at Sky Sports viewing figures and TMS listeners to see that.

    There's only one reason for lower attendances and that is the price. This season is the first time I haven't been to a summer test match in 12 years and my love of test cricket is as strong as ever.

    The fact is that in these financial times people just cannot justify spending over 100 quid (including drink, travel etc.) for a day at the cricket.

    I'm sick to death of these pointless articles about test cricket losing its attraction. Why can't journalists see the real problem? That the ECB is pricing the fans out of the game. Why doesn't anyone seem to care?

    I went to the ashes down under 4 years ago and paid 20quid for a ticket to the MCB. I paid 75quid for the Edgbaston test last summer that's the difference.

    STOP WRITING INCESSANT DRIBBLE ABOUT THE DECLINE OF TEST MATCH CRICKET AND WRITE ABOUT THE ACTIONS OF THE ECB, TAKING THE GAME AWAY FROM THE FANS

  • Comment number 86.

    Ref. empty seats.... perhaps its the Oval ticketing policies?

    For several years my partner and I have attended the oval for 3-4 days each year, watching a combination of test, one day and T20 matches.

    Last year Surrey CCC cancelled their online membership scheme which gave me access to booking tickets before matches went on general sale, as apparently the full members were complaining. This scheme also entrailed receiving emails confirming all dates when tickets became available.

    This year I have spent a similar number of days at Trent Bridge as their communications advised me when tickets were available. So perhaps the other online members have also changed their cricket watching venue this year.

  • Comment number 87.

    What the ECB don't realise is that screening test cricket on free to air TV is actually a form of free advertising for the sport. General interest in cricket is withering with its being broadcast solely on Sky. Most England cricketers could walk down my High Street these days and not be recognised - thirty years ago they were all household names.

    And as so many posters have pointed out - if the punters won't buy your product, try cutting its price. Always worth trying.

  • Comment number 88.

    It's down to the cost of the tickets. I normally go and watch 3 or 4 days of test cricket per year but the last couple of years the prices have been set at stupid levels. Why is anyone surprised that the games are not selling out?

  • Comment number 89.

    45

    The coverage is much, much better on Sky – and uninterrupted.

    ---------

    What, no adverts?

  • Comment number 90.

    I am 18 and a passionate cricket fan, unlike most people my age, when I go to test matches, it is not to go in fancy dress!
    Unfortunately, me and my cricket loving friends are priced out of going to cricket games, as full time students, £60 is very steep, before you consider how easily you can double that total on the day. Food, Drink, Treavel and any other frivelous purchases don't come into consideration but they're oh so easy to make. The food prices are unashamedly high but when you're starving come lunch and all you have is a couple of sandwiches, the idea of hot food seems very appealing until you see that it's £12 for fish and chips.
    As a sky sports subscriber, firstly it is easier to stay at home were I know there is no risk involved if the heavens open, but their coverage is far superior to anything that free-to-air could ever offer, and relies on less television breaks. Surely the aim of the ECB should be to make ticket prices affordable - absolute top price being £25, and offer all sort of incentives to get the grounds full, because a crowd of 3,000 people who've payed £60 a ticket genrates less than 20,000 paying £20 a ticket.

  • Comment number 91.

    :To Garethgareth (number 35).


    "Pay for what one you can afford - your paying for the atmosphere and the drama of being there! If you can't afford, or won't pay, then enjoy the game using free services such as bbc sports text commentary."


    So your attitude is that the paying customer should pay for what they can afford. Would you like to level that at the county clubs who have spent big on facilities too? Maybe your argument could be directed at those in charge at Headingley who have spent big and are now crippled after the poor showing for the Australia-Pakistan Test.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/cricket/international/england/7911140/Neutral-Tests-in-England-at-risk-after-loss-of-up-750000-for-Pakistan-and-Australia-clash.html

    Maybe you should level that argument at Glamorgan too, what with the Swalec Stadium being half-funded through a loan from Cardiff Council (ie. the taxpayer gets involved). Hardly a case of 'building what you can afford'. From what I see, some grounds have spent big, the hospitality boxes aren't so full, and the onus is on the average punter to get them out of it through daft ticket prices. Well, the average punter quite literally ain't buying it!

    If ticket prices had gone up and the coverage were still on terrestrial television, there wouldn't be such an angry response from people. The truth is that the coverage has gone, the ECB trouser the Sky millions AND the ticket prices have gone up. That's the real kicker for the average punter, who feels the ECB are grabbing with both hands. I personally will never buy Sky because I detest the way the Murdoch empire operates. After paying £65 to watch England-Australia at the Rose Bowl, it does make me consider whether to go again, not least as the Rose Bowl is a pig to get to without a car.

    The ECB missed a trick with the neutral Tests. Instead of profiteering, it should have gone with an approach that tried to bring in as many people as possible. It could have been a fantastic PR exercise. The MCC showed the way forward with the wonderful decision to allow people onto the turf at Lords against Bangladesh. That act will live long in the memory as an example of how a small act can do so much to show the positive side of cricket. Had the ECB gone down that road with regard to ticket prices for the Australia-Pakistan series, perhaps we'd have seen bigger crowds. I'd work on the idea that a ground 50% full having sold half price tickets is better than a 20% full ground of full price ticket holders. In these days of job threats, unemployment, and belt tightening, perhaps it's time for those earning the most within cricket, be they executives or players, to experience some belt tightening too.

  • Comment number 92.

    90

    Unfortunately, me and my cricket loving friends are priced out of going to cricket games, as full time students, £60 is very steep,

    As a sky sports subscriber, firstly it is easier to stay at home were I know there is no risk involved if the heavens open, but their coverage is far superior to anything that free-to-air could ever offer, and relies on less television breaks

    ------------

    £60 to see cricket is too much, but you pay - what is it? - £600 a year for Sky? And you think there are fewer breaks on Sky than there would be on the BBC?

  • Comment number 93.

    Ticket prices are acceptable, but as I don't have sky and can't enjoy the rest of the match what is the point.
    Non terrestrial television ultimately undermines the fan base

  • Comment number 94.

    Test match cricket still represents great value for 6 hours of top class sport. Compared with top flight football it is a bargain, but...........................

    Cricket as a sport is no longer available for everyone to watch on tv whereas football is still shown extensively (England, World Cup, Euros, Champions League, Championship, MOTD etc)

    Lack of tv exposure is having a huge affect on the game already (we are only 5 years into the Sky deal) - will only get worse - an entire generation is being lost.

  • Comment number 95.

    5 Years ago I emigrated from the UK to South Africa and have had the pleasure of attending numerous test matches since then. I've seen SA play England, Aussie, Pakistan and have never paid more the £7 for a test match ticket.

    One of only many reasons why I left rip off Britain.

  • Comment number 96.

    89. At 1:01pm on 18 Aug 2010, Johnnygray26

    correct... never missed a ball during live play... yes they have adverts between overs just like Channel 4 did! But they do not go to horse racing every 20mins in the afternoon.

    People seem to be blaming Sky as an easy option. In my opinion, if a test is priced properly for the opposition then it will always sell out.

  • Comment number 97.

    Expensive international ticket prices (London mostly) in a recession, quality of the opposition, too much cricket in 3 months (ODI Paks series ensds end of September), 2 Test matches in the midlands followed by 2 in London (what idiot scheduled that?), a neutral series added on to the ficture list, way too many 20/20 games at £20 a pop and not many schedukled at weekendd, sat inbetween the pro 40 league and championship games.......ECB over kill, greed, stupidiy and burning out the players. I think thats about it?

  • Comment number 98.

    I am one of several Test cricket fans I know who don't go (even though Lords is right round the corner) due to pricing. It's as simple as that. £80-100 pounds for one day's play is absolutely disgraceful. Add to that the lousy, overpriced catering and you're asking for empty seats.

  • Comment number 99.

    I often go to watch test cricket, but had one look at the price schedule that the mcc and surrey sent me this year and threw it in the bin, when saw how expensive it was. I would not pay more than £45 to watch any sporting contest, whether that is football or a test match.

    It is interesting to note that the ticket prices for the Australia are much better value. Tickets for the 1st test at the Gabba behind the bowlers arm are about $AUS 48-55 for Day 3 and 4. That works out at around £30.

    County Twenty 20 is also too expensive. When it first started it cost around £10, now it is £20, and half the players who play are useless or tired. Why don't the ECB play the group stages at the time when there is no international cricket on, so the best england players can also take part?

  • Comment number 100.

    Due to the idiotic bidding policy of the ECB for test matches, ticket proces are now far too high. Couple this with no coherent structure to test cricket and an overcrowded and convoluted UK summer cricket fixture list and you can see why fans are not buying so many tickets for all forms of international matches as they once did. Mant tickets still remain unsold for next month's ODI's - a previously unthinkable situation.

    The ECB have now created a scenario where too many grounds are bidding for international games. Financial problems are coming around the corner fast for some counties due to this and the match bidding process.

    So, to solve matters introduce a test match championship immediately (fat chance) reduce international match ticket prices substantially by dropping the current bidding process and prune the entire cricket fixture list.

    The poor crowds at the Oval may also be affected by the ECB's daft decision to hold two tests in London within a week. Truly Homer Simpsonesque organisation.

 

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