The Cricket World Cup has undeniably delivered so far. We’ve seen breath-taking catches, tight finishes, and the highest standard of 50-over cricket the game has to offer.
We have also, however, seen a number of empty seats at many fixtures. While it hasn’t detracted from the quality of cricket on display, or the excitement levels evident up and down the country, many confined to the comfort of their own homes have voiced their frustrations. Having tried and failed to secure tickets for themselves, numerous cricket fans can only watch on as potential seats are apparently abandoned.
Andy Thompson, one of the Barmy Army’s senior members, suggests a solution based on the approach taken at the 2008 Beijing Olympics:
“Backfilling empty seats with a pool of volunteers who would make sure the venue was always full. Assuming there was a convenient marshalling area, there could easily be a pool of genuine fans who attend on the off chance they may get in. Each stand has a volunteer spotter noting empty seat numbers and, thirty minutes after play starts (when it’s reasonable to assume most attendees would have taken their seats), the spotter instructs the marshalling area to send across the required numbers to fill the stand. All volunteers could have an accreditation or other identifier. Stewards will have been briefed to expect this. If the genuine ticket holder arrives late, the volunteer gives up the seat and heads back to the marshalling area”.
While this approach would certainly take some considered organisation and no shortage of money, it would massively improve the spectacle for the cameras and enhance the atmosphere for everyone in the ground.
The only other disappointing aspect of this World Cup has been the English weather. This time last year, the UK was experiencing the first month of a three-month-long heatwave, but that fortune has deserted us so far in 2019. With no back-up days in the tournament, some have been questioning the ICC’s decision over scheduling. The breaks between games and range of venues should, theoretically, allow for reserve days at this early stage and provide teams with more opportunity to fulfil their fixtures.
That said, the practicality of having DRS at these ‘reserve grounds’ is debatable, and will likely have affected the tournament’s decision makers. Overall, the ICC have done a fantastic job of organising an inclusive, accessible tournament, and should be praised.
A unique atmosphere accompanies every Cricket World Cup fixture already, that much is clear. It is also clear that empty seats and wash outs slightly detract from an otherwise fantastic spectacle; if something can be done to improve this tournament for players and fans alike, it’s worth serious consideration.