Australian news February 20, 2010

Overload to blame for small crowds

Ricky Ponting believes there is an argument for reducing the number of one-day internationals in Australia each summer after the series against West Indies ended with a whimper at the MCG. Australia have played ten ODIs over the past month after six Tests and, with the three Twenty20s, there was a total of 43 days of international cricket scheduled against two struggling teams.

While 15,538 fans turned up to Friday's match at the MCG, nearly double that number were at a pre-season AFL game at Melbourne's other major venue, the Docklands Stadium. It was the smallest crowd ever for a West Indies-Australia Melbourne one-dayer and Ponting said the sheer volume of cricket was the reason.

"It's down on what we probably would have expected but it's the last game of the summer, the series is over," Ponting said. "People in Melbourne have paid a lot of money all year to come and watch games of cricket. You can't expect them just to keep coming out day after day. As players we'll keep doing the best we can to promote the game in the right way and that's by playing good entertaining cricket.

"I'm not sure if the lack of contest had anything to do with it all, I just think we've played a whole lot. You look at all the days of cricket that the public have had to pay and go and watch through the summer, I think that's probably the reason why the numbers have dwindled off in the last week."

When asked if that was an argument for fewer ODIs each summer, Ponting replied: "Absolutely." In the past, Ponting has been a vocal critic of seven-match bilateral one-day series but that will be foisted on the Australian public next season as part of England's post-Ashes schedule.

In total there will be ten ODIs again in 2010-11, with the international summer set to begin with a Twenty20 and three one-dayers against Sri Lanka in late October and early November. That includes an ODI at the MCG on November 3, bravely scheduled on the day after the Melbourne Cup, Australia's biggest horse race.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo