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Empty stands

The PSL organisers should come up with out-of-the-box ideas to attract crowds

Empty stands

Twenty20 is more entertainment and less real cricket. It is the best way for enjoyment in a short time for cricket lovers. Around 15 years ago, nobody thought the T20 format could attract huge crowds.

Most people want to see cricket but don’t have time to spend five days watching Test matches or even a full day for watching a One-day International. Twenty20 provides an excellent opportunity to those people. A T20 game takes only around 3-and-a-half hours, just a little more than an Indian movie.

In this format, batsmen have no time to make adjustments. In Test matches, a player can assess his performance session by session. In one-day cricket, a batsman reviews the situation after a few overs, but in T20 cricket a player needs to adjust his style after every ball.

In a short span of time, 180-200 runs are scored. This provides great entertainment to a cricket lover. In this format, one good over, either with bat or ball can change the complexion of a game.

Cricket followers love to watch plenty of explosive hitting and a series of 4s and 6s. T20 cricket provides all the fun they want. But it becomes possible only when the game is played on batting-friendly wickets.

The enjoyment of T20 is in a high scoring game, when batsmen hit maximum boundaries and set a tough target for opponent. But so far in the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Dubai and Sharjah, most matches have been low scoring.

In the first phase of seven matches played in Dubai, no team crossed the 200-run mark. Karachi Kings’ 183-6 against Multan was the highest innings total. Lahore Qalandars were bowled out for just 78 by Peshawar Zalmi.

The average first innings total was less than 144, which is not enough to attract crowds.

Pitches in the UAE are slow and have little bounce. And the boundaries are bigger. Such conditions are not supportive for power-hitting. The local batting talent failed to hit out of the ground and manage only 20s and 30s.

Overall, this is very disappointing. It is one of the reasons why Pakistani bowlers do not lose matches when batsmen have set 150 or more runs on the board.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) as the host of the league should take notice of low-scoring pitches in the UAE. That is the reason we have been seeing a large number of seats vacant during the matches.

According to PSL officials, website ticket charges for Dubai for general admission are 20 AED for a single game or a double-header during the weekdays and back to AED 40 for weekend PSL matches. Platinum tickets for the weekend double matches are available at AED 290 but there’s also an option to watch the match using Platinum East and Platinum West tickets for AED 125 per ticket.

For Sharjah, the tickets for single games that will be held during the weekday the minimum price for a North Stand ticket is AED 20, while the East Stand ticket price is AED 40. West Stand tickets are available for AED 70, while the Members Enclosure will cost you AED 150.

But despite the average price for general public, empty stands showed that people can’t afford to buy tickets on a daily basis as mostly people are doing low-paying jobs there. The distance between the main city to cricket stadium is over 25 kms. So the transportation charges also affect a common man.

The organisers should think of something different to attract crowds. To fill the stadium, ticket prices could be reduced or fans could be allowed to enter without paying anything after the first innings.

Full house encourages players to show their skills. Empty stadiums dishearten the players.

Khurram Mahmood

Khurram Mahmood 2019

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