The WACA Comes Down to Numbers.

September 12, 2013 at 9:57 am Leave a comment

Cricket is a game built on tradition, and some would say exclusivity, but cricket fans love their history. One of the joys of going to grounds around the world is the history of games past, reminiscing about players debuts and wonderful performances at the ground, wishing you were there or revelling in the fact that you witnessed that memorable moment in the game’s history. Those who have attended the WACA ground in Western Australia are now up in arms as they realise that those days may soon be behind them.

News today that the Western Australian ground will miss out on a test match in the 2014/15 season as according to CEO of Cricket Australia James Sutherland “Though a traditional Test match venue with a proud history, the WACA ground has the smallest capacity of the five mainland Test venues and has historically attracted lower attendances, the WACA has been working hard to improve the facilities for its fans but it still requires significant improvements.”

India, will be touring Australia during the 2014-15 summer, and will play four Tests in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane. With only four test matches being played two grounds in Australia had to miss out, so on face value the decision is not as harsh as many are making out, even though it will be the first time since 1976-77 season that the WACA Ground will not host a Test during an Australian summer.

What is of concern is how quickly people are jumping to suggest that if Test cricket is to be played in Western Australia in the future it will be played at the new sports stadium being built at Burswood. THis reaction has many fans of rectangular sports now asking if this was always the intention and the government of Western Australia always knew this when they announced the design of the stadium.

It is simple good business to try and get as much sport played at the stadium in order to justify the investment and also to pay for its construction. So if this was the case that cricket was always going to play at the stadium, why have the sports fans of Western Australia not had more honesty from those involved? Therein lies teh problem with the WACA, it does not get used enough.

If test cricket is to be played at the Burswood stadium this news will not be good for true sports fans. It was already going to be frustrating for fans of rectangular sports such as rugby union, rugby league and football, as they were already concerned that the oval stadium would mean that they would be seated a long way back from the action. Cricket fans may feel the same as traditionally seating at cricket grounds – the MCG excepted – is not as high as for sports such as football or Australian Rules football, or rugby union.

It will be a very different viewing experience, and having attended the MCG it is a very different experience sitting on high watching. It is great for seeing the movement of the ball and also fielders, but one does not feel as involved in the action as at more intimate purpose built or developed cricket grounds.

If test cricket is to move from the WACA it will be another example of administrators putting financial returns ahead of the experience. The WACA has always been known for its fast bouncy wicket, which has challenged many a great batsman and reaped rewards for the worlds great bowlers. That will become a thing of the past, as the new stadium will rely on drop in wickets.  These wickets are in the main similar to many others around the world and as a result easier to play on.

The administrators may well have more punters come through the gates if they move test cricket to the new stadium, but if the spectacle is compromised and the venue has no soul, then only the truly dedicated cricket tragics will continue to attend and it will take a long time in which to re-create the history that has been built since the first Australia’s first test match at the ground when Greg Chappell scored 108 on Test debut versus England, batting at number seven back in 1970. For the record Brian Luckhurst, Ian Redpath and John Edrich also scored centuries in that drawn first test in Western Australia.

 

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