Fans lap up fast-food cricket, but there’s still room for a Boxing Day Test

2012-12-28 00:00

THE recent T20 series in which the Proteas beat New Zealand 2-1 showed how fans will lap up fast-food cricket, but there is still room for a Boxing Day Test.

The fact that I’m still writing this column means that the world did not end on December 21 as the Mayans supposedly predicted. The Doomsday date coincided with South Africa’s eight-wicket romp against New Zealand at a sweltering Kingsmead.

What surprised me was the sight of a full house in Durban. I covered the Currie Cup final sizzler between the Sharks and Western Province in the same city and watched plenty of Test matches there, and saw plenty of empty seats. I have not known Durban to fill its stadiums. Knowing how much rugby tickets cost and the overkill in terms of the amount of the sport on TV, it is understandable.

As for the recent Bafana game and the swathe of empty green seats at Moses Mabhida stadium, the South African Football Association’s marketing team need to go back to the umpteenth drawing board.

Enough about soccer and more about cricket and the twitterverse’s sudden uproar about the dropped Boxing Day Test.

As I wrote in an earlier column, Cricket South Africa have wrestled with pigs in the mud, but I agreed with them that shelving the Test for one year would not do fans any harm. Maybe the influx of hamburger cricket might force the KwaZulu-Natal crowd to respect the tradition imposed on them. The rapturous scenes at the MCG have made people sit up and think about the benefits of enjoying a five-day game that has been on their calendar on a generational basis. Australia once dispensed with the New Year’s Test for two consecutive seasons, but the Boxing Day Test has always been in place.

New Zealand are not good tourists and are often early season cannon fodder in England and Australia. But they can play above themselves when they face their foes from across the water and are often denied the use of major grounds. If fans have difficulty rocking up to watch India in Durban, you cannot expect the biggest Indian population outside India to give a hoot about a Black Caps team that struggled to beat a transitional Indian side.

Fans need drawcards and punching above your weight consistently is not a prospect that New Zealand readily offers. But that is no excuse for Durban’s callous attitude to such an important fixture on the calendar.

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