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Opinion

Watching cricket in COVID times

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Roar Guru
30th November, 2020
8

Last Friday I attended the one day international between Australia and India at the SCG. This was the first live international cricket since the ill-fated match between Australia and New Zealand at the same ground in March.

After that, Covid-19 took off and the world changed. Certainly our sporting landscape was altered for 2020 as we had to endure suspended competitions and watching on the tube and not in person.

On Friday the anticipation for the game was high but this was not matched in ticket sales. Maybe it was being a Friday that meant the match was not a sell out, but Sunday was and still thousands of empty seats were there for all to see on TV.

The capacity was capped at 23000, which is half of the capacity. Friday’s crowd was 19000 while Sundays was under that. 40 degree heat may have kept the punters away but being a sell out means that people paid and didn’t come.

This is not a good advertisement for the game considering you had to have Pay TV to watch.

The SCG members pay a high premium to attend and they also kept away in droves. The quality of play from both sides was outstanding considering they were locked in hotel rooms for two weeks and only let out the day before the game.

It was a bit like being on tour in India as past players often say.

The security protocols outside the ground were no different to any other match, be it football of cricket. However the jack boots wore masks this time.

Charging what they do for the tickets, this seemed appropriate. No temperature checks but plenty of Dettol on sponsored stands.

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Seating was strictly as per what was on your ticket. That said, there were only about four people to a row and no one in front or behind you.

I’m all for this kind of spectatorship and social distancing. While this was the rule it was not the practice as the stewards seemed pretty thin on the ground and moving freely around was the norm. This actually did feel like a normal game sans the capacity crowd.

I have a friend who had a few spare tickets he couldn’t shift on Gumtree. Even the world’s two most entertaining sides could pry them out of his sweating hand at a sizeable discount.

The most disappointing aspect, but I concede the most predictable, was that the players had zero interaction with the crowd.

The members area where the players enter and leave the playing arena was cordoned off so they could not be approached.

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Luckily Warnie came to the rescue and relented to a few selfies while between shots with Fox Cricket. An entertaining day but not enough for me to go back on the Sunday.

Bring on the Test.

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