It’s been 20 years since Cathy Freeman’s historic and pivotal gold medal run in the 400 metres final at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, when Freeman became the first Indigenous Australian to win an individual Olympic gold medal.
Before we began the longest summer of cricket ever, which started in spring and finished in autumn, many people were waiting to see the back of 50-over cricket.
The reasons given were that crowds were at their lowest since this form of the game started at the MCG in 1971. So were the TV ratings.
The performances were largely poor and the game was not as exciting as Twenty20.
By the end of the summer, most of that has been reversed, so much so that some experts are now saying that this form of the game is more exciting than Twenty20 cricket.
The return of the tri-series for the first time since 2007 has reaped rewards for ODI cricket. Three of the best four teams in the world – Australia (1st), Sri Lanka (4th) and India (3rd) – contested the Commonwealth Bank Series, producing some of the most interesting ODI matches for a long time.
The introduction of using two new balls in a single match also made the game more exciting. This allowed for more smashes from the likes of renowned big-hitter Dave Warner and new boy Matthew Wade.
This really didn’t have much effect overall on the bowlers, as we saw in the final with Clint McKay picking up five wickets.
As Channel Nine pointed out in their coverage, the TV ratings were remarkably up from the previous summer against England. This may be due to Australia’s good performances during the Test series, something that cannot be said about the 2010/11 Ashes.
The crowd numbers were also slightly up on last summer, but this could be down to the strong support of the Sri Lankans and Indians in Australia. In saying that England also has a lot of support in Australia.
Sure, the crowds weren’t fantastic for the Sri Lanka versus India matches, but gee did they have some atmosphere. 11,000 fans could sound like 80,000. If anything, it was the matches involving Australia that lacked atmosphere.
The first ODI match of the summer was played in rainy conditions at the MCG on a Sunday. Just over 30,000 people turned up, which is not a bad crowd in all respects. In a 100,000 seat stadium, though, it’s not that flash.
Although the MCC would not like it I believe matches like these should be moved to Etihad Stadium, or even to Skilled Stadium in Geelong.
With the 2015 Cricket World Cup being hosted in Australia and New Zealand, let’s hope that we can keep improving on these crowds next summer and the years to come.