Crowd trou­ble not a good sign for CA

Num­bers poor for twin series

Mercury (Hobart) - - CRICKET - AN­DREW FAULKNER

THE tepid re­sponse to the twin in­ter­na­tional T20 series has been re­flected in a 30 per cent short­fall in bud­geted at­ten­dances ahead of the fi­nal match tonight.

Cricket Aus­tralia is hop­ing a big turnout at Perth Sta­dium lim­its the dam­age of a 35,000 gap be­tween pre­dicted and ac­tual crowd num­bers for the pair of three-match series played against Sri Lanka and Pak­istan in the past fort­night.

Perth’s shiny new sta­dium has been a hit in the west and should again draw a big crowd on a fine and hot evening for the fi­nal T20I against Pak­istan.

CA chief ex­ec­u­tive Kevin Roberts was dis­ap­pointed with the num­bers for the open­ing matches of the in­ter­na­tional sum­mer, but was con­fi­dent the gap would be made up later in the sea­son — es­pe­cially dur­ing the Box­ing Day Test against New Zealand.

“We’re not com­pletely sur­prised by it,” Roberts told SEN yes­ter­day. “We are a lit­tle bit dis­ap­pointed.”

More than 80,000 fans have at­tended T20Is against Sri Lanka in Ade­laide, Bris­bane and Mel­bourne, and the first two games of the Pak­istan series in Syd­ney and Can­berra.

“We’re about 35,000 peo­ple be­low where we wanted to be in ag­gre­gate across those matches,” Roberts said. “We’re dis­ap­pointed with where those crowds are at. It’s not sur­pris­ing that the grounds weren’t full, given the ex­pe­ri­ence of this time of the year.”

In­ter­na­tional cricket is tra­di­tion­ally the sum­mer game and the Aus­tralian pub­lic might have been caught un­awares by it start­ing in spring this year.

Roberts de­fended CA’s pro­mo­tion of the two T20I series, which have been played be­hind a TV pay­wall. “I think enough ef­fort went into it — ab­so­lutely,” Roberts said.

But the poor crowds are a blow for CA ahead of the T20 World Cup in Aus­tralia this time next year.

Roberts told SEN that CA needed to use the World Cup “as a re­minder that Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber is cricket sea­son and make sure that we’ve got the best pos­si­ble model … to fill the right grounds at that time of year”.

The at­ten­dance short­fall in the T20Is would be made up across the Pak­istan and NZ Test series, Roberts said.

“The good news is our pro­jec­tions for the Box­ing Day Test against New Zealand will see us make up the gap,” he said. “So like with any sea­son there are swings and round­abouts. We reckon the ledger will be pretty much square ver­sus our ex­pec­ta­tions when we get to December 30 at the end of the Box­ing Day Test.

“There’s cer­tainly noth­ing that re­sem­bles a cri­sis in any of this. We’re not overly con­cerned about it.”

The low at­ten­dance num­bers are in stark con­trast to the BBL’s on­go­ing pop­u­lar­ity. The five T20Is have drawn an av­er­age of 16,000 per game, com­pared with last sum­mer’s BBL av­er­age of 20,000.

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