Cages are being rattled all over Australia as the once revered ODI summer begins. The MCG expects about 25,000 (30% of them expat Sri Lankans) to turn up the first of 5 bilateral 50 over matches, and then Australia will go get back on board the merry-go-round soon after with the West Indies. For almost 20 years leading up to around 2003, the One Day Series was always sold out well in advance, but interest is at an all time low this year.
None of these teams, Australia included, is what you’d term ‘box-office’. They certainly aren’t $55-130 (£35-85) per seat attractive, which are the going rates at the SCG this summer. Coupled with the saturation of the omnipotent BBL, a tournament that has already staged 8 games in both Sydney and Melbourne (tickets $20-35), and you can see a reason for sluggish take-up on the international front. The organiser of the first ever international game in Canberra has already expressed his concerns at the possibility of watching 2nd string cricket. Presumably not something they have wanted to revisit since Mike Veletta and a 4-stone overweight Merv Hughes raged against the dying light for the short-lived Canberra Comets in the 90’s.
Only the fading powers of Lasith Malinga can be sold from a Sri Lankan point of view. Ditto Chris Gayle from the West Indies, although with his disinterested and uninspiring display for the Sydney Thunder (the lime green ones, they play at the rugby league ground that used to be the Olympic stadium, they…. No? ok, nevermind), you could argue a degree of (self-titled) ‘World-Boss-Fatigue’ in Australia.
This is, of course, from a cricketing perspective. The bevvy of lovely scantily-clad girls adorning him in the pool at The Ivy didn’t look particularly tired of him. Of course, most of those dead-behind-the-eyes, I’m-so-beautiful-that-my-mouth-doesn’t-move-when-i-speak, I’m-on-the-same-prescription-painkillers-as-my-mother showponies and oh-CHRIST-I-think-the-bouncers-are-(allegedly)-KILLING-that-guy that hang around The Ivy in Sydney are tired of life in general, but that’s another matter.
Australia has 3 box office players in their team. Which makes it even more unpalatable to the paying public when none of them will be playing. Michael Clarke is out to rejuvenate his hamstring and possibly shoot a glossy TV advert for the team sponsors (thankfully, his days of selling Synergy are over), David Warner has been given a rest, presumably so he can learn some Hindi/Guajarati swearing/homophobic abuse for the tour of India, and Mike Hussey has been told that the selection panel is building towards the 2015 World Cup, therefore denying him a richly deserved farewell tour.
The Hussey situation is an interesting one. Brad Haddin, despite being 35, has been recalled in the squad ‘building towards 2015’. Also Hussey, despite retiring to avoid touring, has now elected to play in the IPL, Ostensibly, the selection panel is absolutely fucked-off with him beyond belief for retiring and sending The Ashes plans into a tailspin. He’s responded by touring India at essentially the same time that he said he didn’t want to be touring India. CA may well respond in the worst way they know how. Sitting him next to John Howard at the Allan Border Medal count.
All this has seen Channel 9 absolutely lose it’s rag, rightfully concerned that they’ve been lumped with about 1000 hours of substandard television broadcasting. The last time Nine complained, the format of the summer was altered. They won’t say much this time around, especially with an Ashes series next summer guaranteeing a Scrooge McDuck windfall, but you can bet this might devalue the product around the negotiating table when the TV rights are next put to tender. And if there’s less cash in the pot, the more the IPL (currently being spurned by most big names in Australia) looks attractive, and the further away from the conclusion of the Argus recommendations they get