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November 13, 2007
Cricket Australia has denied charges of complacency after the first Test of the summer attracted disappointing crowds and TV viewing figures.
Although last year's comparable Test was the opening one in the Ashes, the drop of 40.7% in viewers was more than expected. An average audience of 625,000 watched the Sri Lanka Test compared to more than a million for the England match. The aggregate Gabba crowd of 55,953 was also down 66% on last year's record of 164,727. Only 7629 turned up on Sunday and 1285 for the final day.
Graham Dixon, the chief executive of Queensland, criticised CA for "sitting on its laurels", a reference to a limited TV promotional campaign. "Was the Test promoted properly? I don't think so," he said. "Did Cricket Australia rest on its laurels? Yes. I think that is a fair criticism.
"[Shane] Warne and [Glenn] McGrath would always market a match in their own right because they were such big names. But this Test was never going to sell itself. The marketing people had plenty of notice to come up with a good campaign, probably since last March, but all we have really seen is Nathan Bracken bowling at a coin on a wicket."
The charges were denied by Peter Young, the board's spokesman. "We are not taking our foot off the pedal, in the same way as Ricky Ponting is not taking his foot off the pedal," Young said. "No one can afford to rest on their laurels ... it doesn't matter what market you are in."
And he pointed out that the crowd at the Gabba was the third biggest since the 1970s. "It's a serious discussion but let's not forget that the crowd figures speak for themselves."
However, Dixon's view was partially backed by David Johnston, the CEO of Tasmania who host the second Test which starts this Friday. Around 7000 tickets have been pre-sold and Johnston said that he had had to increase local advertising to promote the game.
"We've done a lot of local promotions with radio stations and hopefully that is working well," he said. "There are things I would have liked done differently but Cricket Australia get their advice from their advertising agency and sometimes people on the ground in the state associations have a different view on things."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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