In the three test series between Sri Lanka and Australia what is pragmatic is that “Dwindling spectator curiosity” which was pretty apparent in all venues in the previous series against India, Pakistan and the West Indies does not prevail. It is regrettable that the spectator interest had not shown any significant improvement at all after the venue was changed to Pallekelle. It is a great pity that the authorities of the SLC have failed to adopt any alternate strategies to change this typical attitude of passionate spectator curiosity. The stands were mostly empty at a time when hosts Sri Lanka were even triumphant which reflects dreadful on our cricket image.
It was a gigantic compassion to glimpse only miniature spectator surveillance in these closely contested International matches. Spectator interest should have been at the forefront of the minds of the organisers. They should very well comprehend that a Test match will not be booming without a significant audience.
In the matches played at the SSC and the P.Sara stadium, there were a lot of vacant seats, the television cameramen never focussed on the empty stands. Such barrenness is not felt when Test matches are played in India, Bangladesh, Australia, England and other test playing nations. Sri Lankan fans also are equally passionate about cricket. But the non-affluent have to hurdle over obvious constraints to enter a venue to watch a Test match unlike their counterparts in the Asian countries.
In contrast in the just concluded Sri Lanka’s Test series in England and even when the ashes series was on in all Test matches there were full houses, the impressive spectacle even seen via television was very gratifying.
In Sri Lanka there are enough and more cricket enthusiasts who are not affluent but fanatical to arrive to the venues if they are afforded accessible basic incentives such as nominal entrance fees, subsidised lunch packets and perhaps given constrained free soft drinks, bottled water and, of course, good refuge to defend the scorching sun. It was announced that the entrance to a recent Test at SSC was free for students. I have my doubts whether the most non-affluent schoolchildren may not have tasted even a burger or canned coca cola, leave alone at a Test venue. They would be buoyant to watch Test cricket with zest and passion if afforded this scenario.
I do not know whether it was under the open stands or under cover they were offered free entrance to be accommodated. These committed youth cricket fans should be encouraged by giving free snacks, bottled water to pursuit the hunger and thirst in order to attract them to the Test venue. Some types of such incentives have to be accessible to attract schoolboys to make the stands somewhat full so that the bareness in the stands would not be felt.
Surely there are enough conventional reputed companies who could come forward contributing to this exercise as a sponsorship drive also to make this endeavour a flourishing success from the perspective of the game of cricket played at the highest level. This is food for superlative thought for the authorities of the SLC.
Strategies could also have been strained up to magnetize spectators by compliance of incentives such as slashed tickets, refreshments at cost or free, easy transport facilities, shelter and drinking water, etc. On the other hand, all invitees and officials are all well looked after with VIP treatment The low attendance reflects very shoddily on our cricket which is very highly ranked amongst the world’s cricketing fraternity while Sri Lanka has come to be known widely worldwide because of the cricketing prowess and competence.
It is the fervent hope of all cricket lovers that counteractive steps would be taken by the interrelated authorities particularly the SLC to attract more spectators during the Test series against the mighty Aussies. This should be a matter treated as precedence as these dour scenes with barren stands should not be tolerable to be exposed to the world which is telecast worldwide.