Australia beat the West Indies 3 to blot in their latest test outing. And, quite frankly, I couldn’t be less excited about it. West Indies, who at the start of the series were ranked one above Zimbabwe in the national ratings (Zimbabwe for crying out loud!), managed their best performance in their last match and still lost by 87 runs. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why I’m not excited about cricket at the moment.
Wait, I do know why – because it’s just not competitive! When India was over, and as much as a debacle of a tour that was on both sides, I was at least interested in cricket because India were providing competition, they were a challenge, and they could have won the series. Not once did I ever think West Indies could beat Australia. I don’t remember worrying about it or even concerning myself with the details of matches and teams. It was never going to happen – and everyone knew it. That’s why no one else cared much over here. The papers were more concerned with other news in other sports.
Had I watched any of the matches, I expect I would have seen empty stadiums. It would have happened here, that’s for sure. I don’t know what the fix is (Twenty20 is not the fix to test matches), but I know that increase cricketing skills the world around is probably a good start. I mean, bring up the minnows of the world to at least competitive skills and then you have a serious few teams to face. Not every team has to be as good as Australia, but certainly more than India and England (who is only seems to be good once every four years). Make test cricket more competitive and you will see crowds come.
Of course, the matches have to be situated through the week so as people can come. Starting tests on a Thursday or Friday is probably a good idea, because fans can then take a day off on Thursday or/and Friday, attend for 3 days because the all-important 3rd day is on Saturday, and the ‘final’ day is on Sunday, both days that people don’t generally work (unless you’re a greedy money hogger like me). And, if the test requires a 5th day, and it is coming down to the line, some people might take Monday off. Surely that’s one simple thing that could be done to boost attendance?
But, fact of the matter is, international cricket, at the test level, isn’t competitive. It just isn’t. Make it more competitive and it will keep itself going. It will take some time, but not so long as it will to let it die. And if it did die, cricket the sport would lose a heap of die-hard fans, and gain only the casual fan who isn’t going to invest the sort of money (regular attendance, club membership, merchandise, etc.) that a serious fan will. A serious fan doesn’t turn off their interest when they get bored with the sport – something casual fans do.