New Delhi, Nov 27 (IANS): Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley has defended the crowd numbers in cricket matches in Australia, saying he was 'generally pleased' with the attendance in stadiums till now.
Hockley's comments come after Australia-England's third ODI at the MCG last week saw just 10,406 fans turn up as the hosts completed a 3-0 sweep over the reigning World Cup winners.
Throughout the series against England which came just three days after the Men's T20 World Cup ended in Australia, there were low attendances for all matches. In the T20 World Cup too, Australia recorded an average attendance of 37,565 across its five Super 12 matches, including the abandoned fixture against England at the MCG.
India, despite crashing out of the tournament in the semifinal stage, averaged crowds of 56,656 throughout their matches. These figures have seen many former cricketers point towards a supposed lack of support for the Australia men's team and of viewer fatigue due to tons of cricket matches being scheduled in the international calendar.
"We (Australia) have played 14 white-ball games in Australia, would you believe, before the start of the Test series. But overall, I think we've been really thrilled with crowds across the World Cup. Before a ball in the Test series is bowled, over a million people have bought tickets for cricket in Australia across the World Cup and the white-ball series."
"So we've been generally pleased with the crowds so far… there have been some exceptional circumstances and a real rework of the schedule to catch up after the pandemic," Hockley was quoted as saying by ABC's Summer Grandstand radio show on Sunday.
Australia was originally scheduled to host the event in 2020, before it was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and was re-scheduled for October 16-November 13 this year, which was won by England.
It was the first time Australia hosted the Men's T20 World Cup after hosting a record-breaking Women's T20 World Cup, which was held in February-March 2020 and won by the hosts. Though England became double T20 World Cup winners, Jos Buttler-led playing an ODI series against Australia just 72 hours after winning the trophy was criticised by many fans and experts of the game.
But Hockley believes the ODIs were "important" for Australia to get ODI World Cup Super League points, which will determine automatic qualifications for the ODI World Cup in India next year.
"I think it was suboptimal they came so quickly off the back of the T20 World Cup, but they are a really important part of our build-up for the 50-over World Cup next year in India. We wouldn't anticipate having that congestion of cricket as we look forward to the next futures tour program."
"We secured 60 valuable points as part of the World Cup Super League, so they were really, really important matches and I think a really solid performance as we look forward to India next November, December."
Australia will kick off a five-Test home summer when they face West Indies in Perth from Wednesday.