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Written by Matt Andrews
Whilst Pakistan supporters delight in their teams 3-0 whitewashing of England, I find it inescapable the fact that all three test matches have been played out to barely occupied stadiums. It is sad enough that Pakistan have to play on foreign soil given their tumultuous issues with terrorism, but the fact that their moments of history in January and February, against supposedly the best test playing nation in the world, were watched by so few supporters of either nation takes something away from the aura if not the achievement itself.
No doubt the handful of cameramen and roving reporters around these vast empty stadia brought pictures and interviews to many in Pakistan and England (and, no doubt, many other test playing nations) but I cannot help feel that when an event is broadcast which has more spare seats than not, it seems almost pointless to watch it. Top flight sport should partly be defined by the atmosphere and desire of fans to watch the event. Often, events are more hyped than is truly merited, and that is something the businessmen of world sport must remain grateful for. Dare I suggest boxing as a good example of this?
Recently, Australia hosted India where numbers swelled for the first day of the Boxing Day test; they are always high for this annual shindig, and were even higher for the recent Ashes series, especially the one which England supporters prefer to forget about, the series annihilation 5-0.
Be under no illusion though, beyond this, Australian test match attendances, are not nearly so impressive, and more interest is in the 20 over form of the game.
Amazingly, on the PGA Tour, the Phoenix Open attracts over half a million spectators in just four days. It was won this month by Kyle Stanley.
The issue of dwindling attendances is one that haunts cricket, and one should be grateful at least that the shorter forms of the game give the opportunity for more seats to be used, however as much as the sight of wild Pakistani celebrations is a memory of England’s recent tour of the middle east so too must be the sight of crowds akin to one man and his dog, and at times even the dog was missing.