On Wednesday February 28, while in Antigua I read the Observer, the country’s leading daily, and noted the article ‘Powell gets top marks for A team captaincy’, the final paragraph of which read: “The day/night third and final test bowled off Monday at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium.” There was nothing more about what had transpired or was about to transpire between the second best English and West Indian teams.
I took the trip to the beautiful grounds and saw a good day’s cricket played between 2.30 and about 9.30 pm. Batsmen Dowrich and Hamilton demonstrated real class; Joseph and Paul, the pacemen, and Cornwall and Warrington, the spinners, provided further evidence of the talent available in the region. What really struck me, though, was that the attendance may have not exceeded twenty-five. I suspected that if Powell were not a Nevisian I might not have seen even the little that I saw about the game in the newspaper. One could only conclude that the people responsible for administering cricket in the region do not consider attendance significant, and that also raises the question, why bother to play the game after work.
Turning to television I watched portions of the first five-day match in South Africa against the visiting Australians. The very low attendance at that game led me also to wonder whether there was too much reliance on revenue from tv for the sustainability of the longest form of the game. Cricket people are notoriously conservative, but they must understand that tv people will decide some day to not pay for broadcast rights to games no one comes to see live. There is nothing wrong with the game of cricket that can’t be fixed to maintain its attractiveness. More publicity and a few rule changes could go a long way.
Speaking of rules, I was encouraged to see the DRS being used in twenty over cricket, and also to hear an influential figure like Pollock say that the game is evolving beyond the ‘howler’ rule for DRS.