February 9, 2009

England in West Indies 2008-09

Drop in, stay out

Martin Williamson

Attendances at Tests across the world are not so good that spectators can be treated poorly, and anyone watching the first three days of the first Test would have noticed banks of empty seats at Sabina Park.

It seems, however, that the administrators in the Caribbean learned nothing from the farce of the 2007 World Cup. The concept of pass-outs is well established. It enables people to pop in and out during the day … for an office worker, for example, to amble in at lunchtime and then come back at the end of the day. Unlike some triumphs of poor planning, Sabina Park is close to the heart of business area of the city as well, making the drop-in, drop-out option a popular one.

But that all changed for this match, and once anyone had stepped foot inside the ground they either stayed all day or paid to get in again. The reasons were not clear, although there was a feeling that this was a hangover from the ludicrous rules imposed during the World Cup.

The end result was more obvious. Spectators, increasingly at a premium in the Caribbean, were given yet another obstacle if they wanted to watch cricket.

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Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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