Where were the Test fans?

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Proteas_fans1 Gallo Images Fans seen here on day two of South Africa's first Test against Pakistan at the Wanderers.

Johannesburg – Back in December my twitter timeline was filled with vitriol from people slamming Cricket South Africa for the lack of Test cricket on Boxing Day.

Never mind that the move not to have a Boxing Day Test this summer was a “one-off”, South Africans were infuriated that they weren’t getting their annual Boxing Day fix.

Eventually that fury spilled over into blogs, letters to newspapers and phone-ins to talk radio stations. “South Africa is the No 1 team in the world and we must watch them, Cricket South Africa is only thinking of lining it’s own pockets with money from the T20 matches!”

Those T20 matches against New Zealand – yes New Zealand – sold out at St George’s Park, Kingsmead and Buffalo Park seemingly justifying Cricket SA’s decision. I was looking forward to seeing people in Joburg and those able to get to the Wanderers, showing CSA just how much they loved Test cricket by pitching up for the first Test.

The Wanderers had a marketing dream on its hands. Graeme Smith in his 100th Test as captain, leading the world’s No 1 Test team, featuring the world’s No 1 bowler, No 1 batsman, No 1 all-rounder – Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis. Ticket prices were better than reasonable, the most expensive seat cost R50 (the cheapest R20) – it costs R55 to go and watch the latest Denzel Washington movie at The Zone at Rosebank.

And yet last Friday, day one of the Test against a good Pakistan side, just over 9 000 people attended. Okay, it was a workday, surely Saturday would be better, the prospect of witnessing Steyn produce a potentially match-defining spell would be attractive to these fans starved of Test cricket who had vented their fury at the end of last year. Saturday’s crowd figure? 10 918 – not even half full. In fact if you take the total number of people through the gates over Saturday and Sunday it adds up to just under 25 000, which is still less then the stadium’s capacity of 30 000.

Complaining about the lack of Test cricket is easy as we could see and hear from the various social media outlets in December. But here was a Test, a historically significant one at that, featuring the finest side this country has ever produced. And not once was the Wanderers full, or even half full for any particular day.

For those people who complained in December and then attended last weekend’s Test match because they missed Test cricket at the Bullring – it was the first Test in 14 months – good effort.

Those of you who moaned so incessantly about the absence of a Boxing Day Test, and then didn’t get down to the Wanderers last week, what’s your excuse now? – The Star



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