Interest in the Australian men’s cricket team is heading towards an all-time low, and shocking graphics of the amount of seats available for the opening day of the upcoming Test series against the West Indies confirm that.
Typically the start of Australia’s summer of cricket would be a Test match played at the Gabba in front of a sold-out, passionate home crowd keen to get the season underway.
More than 30,000 people packed into the iconic Brisbane venue for the first day of the opening match of last season’s Ashes series.
Optus Stadium, with a capacity of 60,000, might not even get 3,000 for the opening Test of the summer against the West Indies at this rate.
Australia is set to begin their summer of cricket on Wednesday for the Test series opener against the West Indies
Optus Stadium in Perth is set to host the opening match of the summer of cricket – but at this stage it does not look like it will be well attended
With the Test set to begin at 10.20am local time (1.20pm AEDT) on Wednesday, a look at the Ticketmaster website where tickets can be purchased shows an extremely high number of vacant seats.
Only a few very small bays that aren’t automatically shut thanks to the sight screen appear to be sold out.
Some bays don’t have a single ticket sold, and in almost all others you could fit the entire cohort of Big Bash League players into the empty seats.
Graphics on the cricket site show huge number of seats still available (in blue) just days out from the start of the series
Optus Stadium, which has a capacity of 60,000, still has an alarming amount of tickets available (blue is empty seats, to the far right is a bay closed down due to the sightscreen)
Veteran West Australian cricket journalist John Townsend said he believed ticket sales hadn’t even reached the thousands yet – as the Ticketmaster graphics seems to confirm.
‘I’m hearing that ticket pre-sales, it’s only a week before the match, are in the hundreds, not the thousands but in the hundreds of sales,’ Townsend told radio program Sportsday WA recently.
‘It could be a record-low West Australian Test.’
There were more seagulls than people at the MCG on November 22 to see Australia take on arch-rivals England, a sign of the public sentiment towards the team
If that wasn’t bad enough, organisers have slashed ticket prices after several years of exorbitant costs to attend cricket matches in Australia – but even that isn’t drawing the fans in.
In one bay that is almost completely empty thus far, adult prices for the full day of action are just $24; while kids can get in for just $8. A family of four can get in for $14.
It comes as there were more seagulls flocking to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) than people last week for an ODI game between Australia and England – a match that would have once upon a time drawn a riotous crowd.
A packed and confusing schedule are turning many away from the men’s side, but Townsend, and many others believe there is one main reasons why Aussie fans are disengaged with the national men’s side – and it isn’t to do with the scoreboard.
Australian skipper Pat Cummins (left) and West Indies skipper Kraigg Braithwaite (right) with the Frank Worrell Trophy ahead of the Test series between the two countries
‘I think there’s a lot of elements in Australian cricket and West Australian cricket at the moment that are working against the best interest of the game,’ he said.
‘I think we’re going to see it, people will vote with their feet. Whether it’ll be embarrassing or not, that’s for the people to decide but I think it’s going to be very low.’
Current skipper Pat Cummins came into the role with the public gushing about what he could do in what’s often called ‘the second-most important job in Australia’ after being prime minister.
Then he began to wield the lusty blade of power to oust Justin Langer, which worked with resounding success. The feud is still strong and bitter, with the ex-coach just this week labelling the players that were behind his effective sacking as ‘cowards’.
Aussie skipper Pat Cummins, pictured with wife Becky, is a polarising figure to many cricket fans despite his squeaky-clean image. Fans appear to be voting with their feet if the recent crowds are anything to go by
When Cummins effectively appeared to force Cricket Australia’s hand into dropping a $40million sponsorship with energy company Alinta due to his climate change agenda, opinion of the national side plummeted even further.
It wasn’t even just about the age-old question of whether sport and politics mix, it was more a case of many opining about his double standards; accepting money when it suited him and speaking out when it didn’t.
Couple that with the fact that the team have appeared disinterested and entitled on the field – Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell suggested the side was ‘too fatigued to care’ about crashing out in a home T20 World Cup – and it’s easy to see why fans are voting with their feet.