An Apathetic Start To The Summer

21 06 2011

Early Summer Wash Out?

There is something about early Summer test matches that fails to excite anyone but the most hardened cricket fan. Here at the Compulsive Hooker we have been excited (you would hope so as we’re taking the time to write a blog about it), but the average cricket fan, certainly the average man and fair weather cricket supporter, seems to be so apathetic that the series may as well not have taken place.

Attendances were pretty poor throughout; the lack of ‘fair weather’ will of course have been a major factor perhaps above all; but there is the sneaking suspicion that unless England are playing Australia no one really cares.

This, we believe, is doing a major disservice to Sri Lanka. You would think that a side ranked 4th in the world would be enough to excite the cricketing public – especially as it comes on the back of a famous Ashes win – yet this hasn’t happened and it worries us.

The alleged reasons for this decline in interest are familiar to most cricket fans with diminishing quality being one of these and with it therefore the inference that Sri Lanka are not a good enough side to hold the cricketing public’s interest.

This Sri Lankan team is full of talent though, particularly in the batting and, barring a collapse of epic proportions at Cardiff, would probably have drawn the series – i.e. they remained reasonably competitive throughout. Yes England were the better side, yes the rain probably prevented a 2-0 scoreline but when in the past did this matter?

We are tempted once more to suggest that it is the scheduling rather than any lack of quality that is causing people to stay away. The argument that test cricket has dropped in standards, whilst maybe true, in our opinion would not be the key reason why the tests were poorly attended.

In the old days (those halcyon days of the ’90’s and early 2000’s) you knew where you were with a Summer. There would be an ODI series of 3-5 matches followed by a 5 or 6 test series spread out over the Summer. You knew that the ODI’s were merely an hors d’oeuvre and as such the simply whetted the appetite for the main event. Even in a Summer of two opponents it was structured in a way to ensure the tests were the main course.

These days  with the test series coming first and usually after the briefest of warm ups for the opposing team, the public simply aren’t ready for it. A friend of the Compulsive Hooker, who we would normally have counted on to know what is going on in the world of cricket, e-mailed us to say that the third test was on before he’d known the series had started. (He actually blamed us as our irregular output but that’s bye the bye.)

Of course the simple reason behind it is that the valuable nature of ODI’s to the coffers have made them the main event (at least in the eyes of the accountants) and so they are played later in the Summer. We’re pretty sure though that if you want to ensure test cricket’s primacy that quite the opposite needs to happen.



Elaborating on this standards argument slightly for a moment, we read a tweet the other day that also struck a chord with us. Essentially it said (and we are paraphrasing as we cannot remember who said it):

‘When, in the entire period of cricket’s history, has there ever been a situation when all the cricketing nations of the world were strong.’

People make reference (and we are guilty of this to an extent too) to Murali’s record minus his wickets against Bangladesh or Zimbabwe or perhaps to Mohammad Yousuf’s record minus his runs against those respective nations.

Yet no one ever argues the line that Wally Hammond’s record is somehow inflated by his 336 not out against New Zealand or his hundreds against India -both of whom were minnows of the game at the time.





3 responses

21 06 2011
James Parrett

I think you’re digging to deep into something that’s not there Brad.

I was at Lords on the Saturday of the 2nd Test – Lords, a proper test ground – on a boiling hot, sunny day. The ground was packed. We saw Matt Prior get his ton and then Dilshan showed himself as a class act as he dispatched some limited bowling to all parts. It was a great day’s cricket.

Playing cricket in Wales in May is stupid. It’s always going to be rained on. Also the match coincided with a rugby game involving some Welsh. It was bound to be poorly attended.

Although i’m all for the smaller grounds getting in on Test cricket, the Rose Bowl just doesn’t have the catchment to fill the week days of a Test. If these tests had been played at Headingly / E’baston / T Bridge / Oval and it had been sunny every day the cricket would have been good and the crowds would have attended.

I may be over-simplifying this, but that’s how i see it.

Roll on the tour!

21 06 2011
Reverse Swept Radio

I think the rain makes it difficult to judge how much appetite there was for this series. I do think that the terrible turnouts at Cardiff were almost entirely as result of the way in which the weather appeared to have killed the game.

I would suggest that the curse of these early summer series’ is that they always have the feeling of a warm-up; there is always a sense that the serious end of the summer is still to come.

22 06 2011

In one sentence at the end you have summed up what it took my 800 words to say! Cheers for commenting.

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