It’s Just Not Cricket

The Momentum One-Day Cup started this week with all six local franchises in action.  On Friday the Titans lost to the Dolphins in a high-scoring thriller.  The Cape Cobras put in a dominant Diamond Oval display to defeat the Knights on Saturday while on Sunday the Lions and Warriors were also involved in a high-scoring affair.

Now if I score 300 and you chase it down or come within five runs, that does not necessarily make it a good match.  A great encounter could just as easily have been if you bowled me out for 120 and I stopped you at 119, but fans generally do enjoy lots of boundaries and the sight of the white kookaburra flying high into the stands … or even out of the ground.  With that in mind there is a particular eyesore associated with the domestic game – the poor attendances.

Gauteng has around 11 million people but you cannot find 11 000 that can tell you they were at the Titans or Lions games this weekend.  Fair enough, the latter were playing at their alternative venue in Potchefstroom but it is not as if Potch packed the ground in the North West either.  Kimberley residents clearly had better things to do as well on Saturday.

What is the problem?  Is the quality of the product on display substandard?  I think it is fair to say the answer is no.  How about the ticket prices?  Well the stubs are almost for free they are so cheap so that is not an issue.  How about venue accessibility?  Sure there could be some problems on this front in South Africa with public transport not what it might be but considering the general demographic of cricket fans, then this factor also starts to lose credibility.  Marketing and promoting of the event is a genuine concern.  Most people do not even know the tournament is taking place but most media outlets do cover the competitions so then you have to start looking at the marketing teams of the various teams, sponsors and the sport’s governing body in South Africa.  Sorry guys, but a poster on every other street light within two blocks of the ground is not what creates awareness.

However the purpose here is not to play the blame game.  Instead, I would rather try to help.  Domestic cricket really is for everyone.  It is not expensive, the quality of cricket to be seen is pretty good and it is a really good day out with your significant other, family and/or friends.  Moreover if you feel R30 is too much for a cheese burger then you can even pack your own food, drinks and snacks in a cooler box and take it with you.  While you’re at it, you can even take in your own blankets and camper chairs to make your grass bank experience even more comfortable while the kids run around playing, or purchase a pavilion ticket if you prefer.

I maintain domestic cricket, One-Day Cup or otherwise, is a great family experience and if you have never ventured out I highly recommend it.  Good, clean fun guaranteed and the next time a Proteas player is struggling you’ll be able to impress your buddies by arguing accurately (and probably unopposed) as to who his replacement should be based on performances on the local front you have been a witness to.