Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Strauss Hopes England Can Rectify That Empty Feeling; All We Can Do Is Play Positive Cricket, Says Skipper as Lack of Sales for Second Test at Edgbaston Continues Summer's Worrying Trend

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Strauss Hopes England Can Rectify That Empty Feeling; All We Can Do Is Play Positive Cricket, Says Skipper as Lack of Sales for Second Test at Edgbaston Continues Summer's Worrying Trend

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Collomosse Sports Correspondent

ANDREW STRAUSS has called on his team to help bring back the crowds to Test cricket during the rest of the summer after the disappointing response to Pakistan's tour. The capacity of Edgbaston, venue for the npower Second Test, has been reduced to about 15,000 because of redevelopment work, but only 10,000 tickets have been sold for today and tomorrow.

Enthusiasm for the First Test at Trent Bridge was similarly moderate. There were strong attendances for days two and three of that game but the ground was only two-thirds full on the first day, and probably three-quarters empty when England clinched victory during the first session on day four.

When Pakistan played Australia in a two-match Test series last month, the crowds for the Second Test at Headingley were so poor that Yorkshire County Cricket Club missed out on about [pounds sterling]750,000 after failing to draw the five-figure attendances they hoped for.

The lukewarm reaction to Tests this summer reflects the trend in world cricket, with Twenty20 now regarded as more enticing than the longer form of the game.

"I suppose it was a bit disappointing," Strauss said. "There was a good crowd in on the Friday and the Saturday, but we want to play in front of full houses if we can.

"The only thing we can do is play good cricket and, hopefully, make people come and watch us. The rest of the marketing and those sorts of concerns are beyond our control.

"You could probably argue that this is a bit of a one-off summer with neutral Tests being here, so there's been a lot of cricket for people to watch. Whether that's the reason, I don't know. I'm sure there are people up and down the country asking those sorts of questions." A stronger performance from Pakistan would help after their naive batting at Trent Bridge saw them slip to a 354-run defeat.

Such inexperience against the swinging ball persuaded the selectors to call up Mohammad Yousuf, who retired from international cricket earlier this year in protest at being banned by the Pakistan Cricket Board for his role in a disastrous tour of Australia. …

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