Before the India-England Test series had started, BCCI would have hoped to see huge crowds on the fourth and fifth days of matches, given that most of them were on weekends and tickets in Tier-II city stadiums would be cheap. However, demonetisation of currency (INR 500 and 1000 notes) implemented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government has adversely affected attendance in stadiums.
The first Test match between India and England, currently being played at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, would have seen a capacity crowd on Day 5, considering that the home team would bat for at least 45 overs. Unfortunately, the unavailability of cash has prevented a large number of people from coming to the ground as they are stuck in ATM and bank lines.
Speaking to Sportskeeda, stadium official Bhupata Talatia said, “This ban (on 500 and 1000 rupee notes) has drastically affected the attendance. Though the number is still higher as compared to other days, it is nowhere close to what we would usually be seeing on Day 5 of a Test match. We even reduced prices of ticket to INR 50 from INR 100 to draw in crowds.
But a large number of them are stuck in ATM lines and have gone to banks for exchanging money. We did everything possible to ensure smooth functioning on the last day but it has not worked out for us.”
Talatia also said that a large number of tickets had been sold beforehand but even people with tickets are not likely to make it to the ground. “There is no disposable income for people and watching an entire day of a Test match would mean eating food and drinking water, for which they obviously require money but do not have enough. Right now there is a lot of crowd that includes school kids and people called by the association,” he added. According to the stadium officials, around 10000 tickets were sold for Day 5 of the match but people have not been able to make it.
The Indian government banned the circulation and usage of currency notes with denomination 500 and 1000 on November 8th as a measure to curb black money across the country. While benefits of this action might show results in the long run, it has resulted in hardship for common people across the nation as people have been finding it extremely hard to get bank notes of INR 100 for daily disposable expenditure.
This problem is likely to affect attendance in rest of the Test matches between India and England, scheduled to be played over the next month. ATMs across the country are yet to be functioning in full capacity and it is not likely to get any better over the next few weeks. BCCI, along with state associations, will need to figure out a way to counter this or face empty stadiums in the season’s most important Test series.