England & Wales Cricket Board June 13, 2011

ECB braced for U-turn over Windies Test

ESPNcricinfo staff

The England & Wales Cricket Board could be forced to put next summer's disputed West Indies Test back out to tender, after they appeared to undermine their own bid process by accepting an offer from Glamorgan that was up to 40% less than the £1million put forward by the MCC.

In a situation described by one board spokesman as "very delicate", the ECB's apparent desire to bolster the appeal of Test cricket in Wales has hit a number of stumbling blocks, with last month's Test against Sri Lanka resulting in a reported loss of up to £1.5million.

Glamorgan bid a hefty £2.5 million for the Sri Lanka Test, but a combination of poor weather and spectator apathy left their chairman, Paul Russell, talking of a "conceptual difficulty" in marketing the game outside of England.

A meagre 922 spectators witnessed England's remarkable victory on the final afternoon of the match, and the size of the loss has raised concerns that the county would not be able to bear the costs of hosting another five-day Test in 2012.

The simple solution would be for Glamorgan and MCC to instigate a straight swap, with Lord's taking over the West Indies rights for 2012, and Cardiff picking up the visit of New Zealand in the Ashes summer of 2013. However, with MCC themselves nursing a loss of £2.5 million for 2010-11, their own preference would be for the process to be put back out to tender. Given the current economic climate, they could expect to gain the rights for a knock-down price.

According to Hampshire's chairman, Rod Bransgrove, whose own county hosts their first Test match at the Rose Bowl on Thursday, the problem of marketing five-day cricket might not be limited to Glamorgan. He suspected that, in the long term, the ECB's current preference for seven Tests a summer might have to be reconsidered.

"I do think that seven Test matches every summer is a big ask," Bransgrove told ESPNcricinfo. "Audiences are beginning to show us that's a difficult quantity to sustain. But I do think that there is ample international cricket to go round the nine grounds that we now have, even if it means that everybody won't have everything they want every year."

The one surefire crowd-puller remains the Ashes, with Durham already selling tickets for their 2013 contest to ease their cash-flow problems, even though the dates of the series have yet to be announced. However, the arrival of India in the second half of this summer promises to be a windfall for the cash-strapped counties, with ticket sales already topping 700,000.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • shyam on June 15, 2011, 17:07 GMT

    let's face it, every touring team should play at Lord's not for the romance and history but because financially, it raises far more for the ECB than any other ground. Lord's is in London, home to 8m people plus a catchment area of another 10m, has a 27000 capacity, but most importantly has the most corporate boxes located just 20 mins from the City and the the West End, and 45 mins from Canary Wharf. Doesn't matter who plays, the firms with the deepest pockets will fork out to entertain clients there, not at Cardiff, the Rose Bowl, Headingley etc. let's just accept Lord's will get 2 tests a year plus 2 ODIs and move on. not to mention Cardiff gets more rain than London

  • Grant on June 15, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    @kool_Indian i don't think it does at all. The aussies are the real crowd pullers in England. filling grounds is a given when they are over. If anything English gate reciepts are a final vestage of the old order.

  • Dummy4 on June 14, 2011, 22:05 GMT

    I'm with Adam6393. Short-term greed has become the dominating force. If we don't make international cricket more accessible to the young, we shall have neither players nor supporters in future generations.

  • Dummy4 on June 14, 2011, 18:24 GMT

    Complaints about high ticket prices are understandable during an economic downturn that is affecting some more than others, but the assumption that crowds in England are dropping is simply untrue. Ticket sales this summer stand at 725,000 - already the best since the Ashes series of 2005. Kool_Indian is right.

  • Dummy4 on June 14, 2011, 18:20 GMT

    Complaints about prices are understandable in an economic downturn that is hitting some much more than others, but the assumption expressed here that English cricket crowds are dropping is simply untrue and needs correcting, even if it means my pint will have to wait another five minutes. Ticket sales this summer are around 725,000 - add another 20,000 or so and that will be the highest since the Ashes series of 2005.

  • Hardik on June 14, 2011, 17:59 GMT

    Hey ECB, dont think too much about the Economics now... Superpower INDIA s coming.... :) Most of ur losses will be equated by the end of the summer.. & Lords get ready to host the 2000th Test match and Sachin's 100th international Century.. :)

  • Adam on June 14, 2011, 15:34 GMT

    Sorry ECB- when will you see the bigger picture? The big problem with test cricket is the cost. Only test matches I've been able to afford to go to last year were Bangledesh at Lords (£35) and Sri Lanka at lords (4th day- £35). Usual cost for is £70 on average for a test match ticket in the South east at the moment. THIS IS RIDICULOUS and i'm not surprised grounds are empty, it is not value for money, in May in england you could very easily see 25 overs of cricket due to rain, which would mean you get no refund on your £70. Until they address this issue it won't change. On top of this if you can't afford SkySports you can't follow England anymore. Such a shame ECB you're loosing many young and enthusiastic cricket fans with your shortsighted money focused policies.

  • Stephen on June 14, 2011, 12:11 GMT

    The problem is the number of grounds being given test status. Australia is a massive country geographically and yet it manages to make do with just five grounds.

    If this was a proper business, they would look at the cities that have the largest cricket following population living within an hour's travel and allocate six grounds test status and call it quits. It's tough on Cardiff but, from a population point of view, if there is going to be a Test ground for the west of the country it should be Bristol surely? Given the percentage of the population that live within an hour of London there would probably be a case for 3 of the 7 tests being played there (2 at Lords and 1 at the Oval). Birmingham would have to have one, that leaves 3 to divvy up around the rest of the country. Tough but fair.

  • Jason on June 14, 2011, 12:05 GMT

    Ticket prices are a little high, so far this year my Test Cricket Ticket bill for 7 days of test cricket is £485, and that doesnt inlcude the price of food, drink, travel and accomodation. You can easily blow £30-40 on food and drink at a test match, especially with beer being £4 a pint, and an average meal is about £6.50.

  • Peter on June 14, 2011, 12:05 GMT

    Yes, a mixture of reasons. Cardiff was very unlucky with the weather & a later date would usually have had a better chance of dry weather - but no guarantee. I've been mystified for years as to why S/Lanka are considered a less than attractive draw than some other Test sides. If you take away AUS (who will always be the top draw here because of the importance of the Ashes) S/Lanka have consistently played the most attractive cricket and have had the most colourful personalities since their entry to the Test match circuit. They have also consistently been among the best sides.

    Ticket prices are horrendous in England. To take one son to Lord's involves an outlay of around £100 upwards for a single day (certainly for Aus, SA etc) plus all the travel costs, food etc. Wife, two sons and me - tickets, travel, food - £300 for (up to!) one day of the Test. But still always full. But outside London the picture is changing. As has been said, the SKY move is DEF damaging cricket longterm

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