England vs India 2018: Poor attendances expected for Test series
The tussle against India in red-ball cricket being the highlight of the English summer in 2018 has been dealt a major blow, with the numbers sprouting up from ticket sales of the matches giving a grim impression of the expected viewership across the grounds in England despite the ICC #1 ranked side India featuring against a home side, resurgent on a high of positive cricket reinstated after the 2017/18 Ashes debacle.
The opening Test at Edgbaston, which is going to be a historic one for England being their 1,000th in playing history, is expecting to cater to only 15,000 people on the first day, and of those, a 1,000 will be present resulting from distribution of complimentary passes to All Stars members and personnel of the armed services.
For a ground with a capacity of 25,000, the turnout is almost disappointing given the magnitude of the occasion and also the fact that Birmingham has always seen good crowds to watch subcontinental sides due to the population of the area being rich in ex-pats.
Ticket sales for the Southampton Test at the Aegeas Bowl do not inspire much optimism either- first day sales for the fourth Test being estimated in vicinity of 8,000, with fourth day sales around 5,000.
Even grounds that have traditionally enjoyed healthy spectator counts such as The Oval in London and Trent Bridge in Nottingham are finding it difficult to attract buyers for tickets for this series.
Trent Bridge, for example, has managed to reel in an anticipated number of 13,000 tickets for the third day of the third Test - which is a Monday - while The Oval has sold around 7,000 for the fourth day of the final Test; that day being a Monday too.
It is believed that the dipping numbers have resulted due to the itinerary, with only the Lord's Test starting on Thursday, the day of the week considered the most optimal of all in terms of attendance numbers, as the third and fourth day, the most decisive days of the Test match, falling on the weekend allowing families to be present in abundance.
Sales might also have been affected by the ever going popularity of the Vitality Blast and the Kia Super League, both the competitions recording all time high numbers.
Perhaps, this is an indication in the shift of the public mindset with regards to the formats they want to have their time invested in, and given this scenario, a franchise Twenty20 tournament beginning in 2020 might not be an entirely sloppy idea.