Cardiff: A Forward Defence

There has been lots of criticism of Cardiff as a test venue, the majority of which has been unfair and disproportionate.

First the weather. Unless somehow the administrators at the SWALEC have a direct line to some omnipotent Michael Fish, the weather just happens. We live on a temperate island and it rains a lot, except in Essex where it doesn’t, it rains less than Jerusalem. It doesn’t rain significantly more in Cardiff than Manchester, Birmingham or Leeds. Look at the match reports for the county matches, lots of matches were rain effected across the UK with Durham, Worcester, Derby, Northants, Bristol badly so. We could only play tests in Chelmsford to minimise the chance of rain delays?

Then the pitch. The pitch wasn’t that slow,  England bowled and caught badly first time round and Sri Lanka’s attack has less teeth than Wilfred Bramble. Looking at the pitch yesterday afternoon (a day three pitch on day five) it was starting to break up a little and would have offered even more assistance to spinners with turn and the seamers with variable bounce if the match had been played out for five days (to which David Lloyd attested on air).

Finally, ticket sales. Cricket fans are knowledgeable and will not just turn up to the opening of an envelope.  Sri Lanka without Murali, Malinga, Jayasuriya are not box office and as proven are highly unlikely to take 20 wickets. Combine this with India touring next, football and rugby just wrapping up and the economy poor, many fans have chosen to skip the series. Lots of tickets are available for Lords and The Rosebowl and both are likely to be 55% – 70% full depending on the weather and the game. A similar proportion to Cardiff and a similar proportion to Lords for the opening tests against the Windies and Bangladesh over the last few years. Cardiff sold nearly double the tickets for this test than The Riverside did against the West Indies for their maiden test in 2008.

The domestic game of cricket is in real financial trouble, for their future counties are stacking their chips on conferencing, accommodation and international cricket. Expensive redevelopments are happening all over the place. If any criticism should be levelled, it should be at the ECB and county chairman who have failed to judge demand for their product correctly and priced it badly, judging demand and setting prices is a basic in business.  Who knows what position this might also put Hampshire in, who do not get European Development handouts like Glamorgan. Lets hope the ECB see sense and do not demand the full price of the staging bids from Hants and Glamorgan.

While I am a Welshman, from Cardiff, I am not the blinkered kind. I have lived in London for 15 years and watched test matches all over the UK and the world. Quite objectively Cardiff is a nice venue with good facilities, lots of accommodation and is easy to get to from many places in the UK. The city itself is highly experienced in putting on major events, so people let’s be fair, Cardiff is hosting international cricket for the foreseeable future and needs a fair crack of the whip.

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Filed under Sri Lanka Series 2011

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