England v Pakistan, 2nd T20I, Cardiff September 8, 2010

Flower appeals for fans to stay with series


England's coach, Andy Flower, has appealed to the British public to get involved in the forthcoming one-day series despite the ongoing allegations involving Pakistan's cricketers, after their six-wicket victory in Tuesday's second Twenty20 at Sophia Gardens was marred by one of the poorest attendances ever seen for a home international.

Only 5,821 tickets were sold for second match in three days in Cardiff, which is barely a third of the ground's 15,000 capacity. The midweek scheduling didn't help the ticket sales, nor did the autumnal weather, but the sense of anticlimax was exacerbated by Pakistan's collapse to 89 all out, their lowest total in 40 Twenty20 internationals.

"It was a strange atmosphere," admitted Flower. "That must be the smallest crowd I've ever been involved in with an England team in England [sic]. It's a real pity. Perhaps the weather didn't help on Tuesday but no-one wants our national side to play in front of such a small crowd. And the fact that we dominated so completely meant that it wasn't a great contest for the people who did come either. It was great for us to dominate but not a brilliant match for the crowd."

This time last year, England were being thrashed 6-1 in a dreadfully received seven-match one-day series that took place only days after the completion of the Ashes, and though England are the side in the ascendancy on this occasion, their opponents are in such disarray that a similarly one-sided conclusion to the summer would appear to be on the cards.

"There's inevitably a bit of a gloomy atmosphere at the moment, and with the sullying of cricket's name and reputation that's understandable," said Flower. "It's a pity because we are playing some outstanding cricket. We have got on with our jobs in a professional manner. We have won two games comfortably and for the skills of the bowlers in particular to be overshadowed so completely is sad.

"It's fair to say it was the same in the Test series too," he added. "Not just at Lord's but throughout there were some great performances, like Trott and Broad's partnership and some others, but they have been overshadowed by controversy. I'm sure the players have some strong views on the issues the game is facing but they have gone about their work and put those issues to the back of their minds, and that's a tribute to them."

In the aftermath of Tuesday's second match, England's Twenty20 captain Paul Collingwood reminded the ECB that he and his fellow international cricketers had been warning of the dangers of overkill for the past ten years. It was a stance that Flower appeared to back in a thinly veiled criticism of the scheduling.

"To have two Twenty20 games at the same venue at this stage of the season might have been an error," he said. "It's something the ECB might want to look at. None of us want to see small crowds but we don't know what the attendances will be like at the one-dayers yet. Hopefully the English cricketing public will come and support their team. We're playing some good cricket and I think our ground-fielding and bowling in the Twenty20 matches provided really good entertainment. We all hope people turn up in great numbers for the last five matches."

He denied, however, that his players were just longing for the summer to come to an end. "The guys are really looking forward to the one-day series," he said. "They love playing for England and they are highly motivated and proud to represent their country. All the other stuff that is being alleged I think has highlighted our guys' appreciation of representing their country in a fair and proud manner. Sometimes you can forget simple things like that and I think this business has emphasised to them how proud they are and the responsibilities they face."

Pakistan, meanwhile, face a struggle to raise their game despite the furore that is surrounding them, but Flower insisted that that was not his team's concern. "That's a situation that we can't do too much about at the moment," he said. "The bottom line for spectators is that they want to be entertained and whatever problems Pakistan have, they will play attacking cricket as we will too. So I'm very hopeful some good cricket will be played in the 50-over games."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Fayed on September 10, 2010, 7:23 GMT

    please folks lets stop brushing the main issue under the rug hear the public including the England fans feel betrayed and feel that they will not see an honest contest at hand thus will go spen their HARD earned money on something thats more realistic and honest,, The might as well watch WWE then game of Pakistan crciket right now !!

  • des on September 9, 2010, 17:31 GMT

    Not sure why that famous hotbed of cricket, Cardiff, got two 20-20s in a row. Idiotic. A city the size of London MAY have been able to provide enough spectators for two games in a row like that, but why not spread the games around?

    I guess the ECB is still trying to make the Welsh feel part of the scene, despite providing fewer players to the team than Ireland.

  • Dummy4 on September 9, 2010, 15:29 GMT

    I agree with Flower and strongly belief that no one is even interested in watching cricekt after these allegations. These players are still innocent until proven guilty and thats the world wide law. In order for cricket to stay alive British government should give life time sentence to mazhar majeed, for him we have no mercy whats so ever. Mazhar said the network runs from mumbai so now we know this is a trap for amir and fellows. You can ban butt all u want but i have a soft corner for amir and asif and believe they should get a chance because we need these seamers in world cup.

  • Taz on September 9, 2010, 15:24 GMT

    Playing two games within a few days of each other at the same venue is plain stupid. Last year we had that debacle at Old Trafford and again at Trent Bridge against the Aussies. You would have thought that the schedulers would use their brain a little more.

    Looking at next summer's schedule doesn't fill me with much confidence either.

    ECB missed a trick, they should cut the number of ODI's down to three between each touring team and increase the number of T20's to 3 and spread them around the country more rather than have them concentrated in one part.

  • Taz on September 9, 2010, 15:17 GMT

    Bottom line is, the paying spectator, only has so much money to spend on entertaining themselves and they are hardly going to splash the cash in these economic times on something they don't value in return for their hard earned cash, which is what they are getting from a Pakistan side, going through the motions at the moment.

    Even with the three who are under suspicion out of the team, there are still suspicions surrounding several other peoples who are currently in the team.

    The best bet would have been for ECB to ask the Pakistani's to provide a few of their players towards a rest of the world eleven which would have made for a better contest. Maybe Afridi, Razzaq, Akther and Umer Gul could have played and the rest made up from Sri Lanka, India, Windies, NZ, AUS and SA. I'm sure they would have been able to get a squad together for that.

    Secondly the scheduling of two T20's at the same venue within a few days of each other is totally ridiculous.

  • Jem on September 9, 2010, 13:08 GMT

    Three comments: 1. I feel sorry for the Pakistan team - they've not only lost 3 of their better players due to the allegations, but this must have a devastating effect on the morale of the remaining players, coming at the end of an already very long and tiring (more so because of the lack of success) tour; 2. Which brainless idiot decided on two T20's - at the SAME venue?? That's unfair on other counties and fans in the rest of the UK and clearly they need to 30,000 fans in Cardiff, rather than 15,000 to fill the ground twice, as few people will go both days. Madness! 3. When are the ECB going to understand that their inflated pricing drives people away? When you consider transport costs (especially with two out of four Tests in London!) a spectator can be looking at £100 to watch a day's play that can be wiped out by umpires running off the pitch at the first sign of a dark cloud - when the spinners are on! Think about the fans, ECB/ICC before you lose them all.

  • Ross on September 9, 2010, 12:40 GMT

    @dsachit Let's not mess about with boring old 10-10 and instead go straight to the Super Duper Over! Twelve balls of the most exciting thrilling cricket ever in the history of the world. It will all be over in a couple of hours (allowing for advertisements, mid-pitch sponsorship announcements by the batsmen, a song or two from the umpires and ICC investigations into irregular betting patterns on a ball-by-ball basis). Cricket needs to evolve to survive, and I reckon the youngsters would love it!

  • Mark on September 9, 2010, 11:53 GMT

    @Runster1 For god sake no more tri-series between India, Sri Lanka and someone else, that has to be the dullest format imaginable now. I used to follow all international cricket religiously, but series involving India and Sri Lanka bore me to tears nowadays, all this talk of over scheduling killing cricket, look no further than the BCCI!!!

  • Dummy4 on September 9, 2010, 11:44 GMT

    It is really very bad for the future of cricket, Pakistni team is under big trouble they not only loose the confidence also there top order players not performing well, there is some residence from the bowler, but batting is totally depresed, we are sorry to accept such type of performance from a ex 20/20 world champian team. Same also effect the financially to ECB which were expected a big gain out of the 20/20s and ODIs games. it is very bad time for Pakistan cricket we should back-up them

  • Amir on September 9, 2010, 10:52 GMT

    Yes, the Pakistani's summer has been taken over by match fixing allegations, I do have a feeling that all is not what it seems within these allegation although I know first hand there is some truth in them, I guess we will have to wait and see.

    As for low attendances..on behalf of Pakistani fans, I have travelled to see them play in almost every match, but what must be taken into account, prices are relativley high for most matches, it is during the holy month of Ramadan, so you can hardly expect people to want to turn up. I'm sure with Eid tomorrow, you will see bigger pakistani crowds starting from the Headingley ODI. But the match fixing allegations will have taken its toll on some of this, a win for Pakistan may reignite some fans.

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