Big Bash providing greatest threat to the future of Test cricket


Australia faces some major promotional challenges to reinvigorate Test cricket in the hearts and minds of the Australian public.
And, ironically, the greatest cannibalistic threat to the five-day game is coming from within, via the Big Bash, the very concept intended to cultivate and complement the sport’s growth.
CA boss James Sutherland and his marketing boffins should be deeply alarmed by the feeble crowd figures for the first Test against Sri Lanka in Hobart.
In a week where local hero Ricky Ponting was paraded to his people to honour his Test retirement, a day at the cricket should have been the hottest ticket in town.
Given his incredible contribution, Ponting deserved a full house in Hobart. Instead, he waved to a slew of empty seats on day one, when an army of schoolkids issued hundreds of free tickets swelled the humble 6221 attendance.
Over the first three days, a total of 14,419 fans rolled up to watch an Australian side considered one of the leading teams in world sport.
It barely eclipsed the 14,185 who turned up to the same ground to watch a Big Bash semi-final between the Hurricanes and Sixers in January. CA hierarchy will argue the meagre Hobart turnout is not a true and accurate snapshot of the national appeal for Test cricket. According to CA research, almost a third of sports reports in November were devoted to cricket.
Alarm bells, however, are ringing in other regions. Yesterday in Queensland, 12 hours after Michael Hussey cracked another Test ton, the state’s biggest-selling newspaper carried a back page on surfing. The secondary story was on golf.
Granted, it’s not every day an Aussie surfer wins a world crown. But gone are the days when Test cricket had a mortgage on back pages and lead TV sports bulletins thanks to names like Border, Boon, Waugh, Warne, Hayden, McGrath and Chappell.
No disrespect to good Test cricketers like Peter Siddle or Matt Wade, but they simply don’t carry the gravitas or pulling power of a Ponting or Gilchrist.