One has to feel sorry for the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras. Two years in a row the Cobras have reached the Momentum One Day Cup final and as was the case last year, this year’s final was washed out. Last year Gauteng’s summer rains put paid to the Cape side’s hopes. This year the unreliable Cape climate did the Cobras in.
Paul Adams has done a sterling job since taking over and the future of Cape cricket looks bright. Indeed, the future of many domestic franchises looks bright too. The Dolphins showed drastic improvement and the Titans rallied back to snatch a play-off place from a position of relative no hope with just a couple of league games to go. But, did anyone even noticed?
Poor crowd attendances at domestic cricket matches have bothered me for some time now. I am not armed with official figures but one only has to glance at the television screen to see that there are two men and a dog at the average local cricket fixture.
Of course this is not a new phenomenon. Franchise matches have been sparsely attended for many a year. My question is simply, ‘Why?’ Is it because of a poor standard? Hardly. Since the invention of the franchise system in 2004, local cricket has produced national players of the calibre of Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, AB De Villiers, Faf Du Plessis, JP Duminy, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Paul Harris, to name but a few.
You could argue that some of these players were already in the provincial system that existed pre-franchise era. While that is true, it is still no reason to explain why no one would want to watch these players during their budding years.
Perhaps prices are too steep? Not really. A quick perusal of www.ticketpros.co.za reveals that domestic cricket can be attended from as little as R10 but usually in the R30-R50 region. What a wonderful way for a father to expose his son to the great game of cricket. For a small fee, Dad can take his son to the cricket and probably drag Mom with for a fun, family day/night out.
Whether the kid actually watches the cricket is immaterial. Just being there and experiencing a live cricket match is what will spark the interest. Of course, the same can said of the Premier Soccer League where attendances are equally dire. Tickets to the average PSL match cost R40.
It could be argued that I have not factored in the state of our economic times. My counter to that is that although we are coming out of a recession, the truth is that these sports matches were poorly attended during the boom times too.
Maybe South Africans are not as ardent lovers of sport as we think. I would hardly go down that route given the obvious love of sport our people have shown. Perhaps the answer lies closer to home. Right on the couch to be exact, where several matches can be viewed at the same time at the push of a button.