Former Australian pace bowler Damien Fleming believes playing less of T20 Internationals (T20Is) and allowing the domestic T20 league competitions to continue could be the fix needed to overcome the dwindling crowds at cricket stadiums.
Australia have seen record low crowds of late with the stadiums, including the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), seeing a massive dip in numbers even during the ICC T20 World Cup held recently.
Several experts have blamed the poor spectator turnout to the saturated cricket schedule and Fleming feels all three formats of the game need to be given “clear space and times”.
“Play less international T20s and let the domestic T20 competitions just go about it. You’ve got to give (all three formats) clear space and times,” Fleming said on SEN 1170 Breakfast on Wednesday.
“Since the T20 World Cup began on October 16, there have been 46 T20 matches, three ODIs and the first of five Test matches against the West Indies and South Africa,” said the report.
However, Fleming is not in favour of completely doing away with a format but the cricket boards across the world should discuss on how to juggle limited-overs cricket.
“Test cricket is a bit like vinyl which is trendy these days. 50-over cricket is a bit like the CD which has its own particular taste. T20s are like streaming services which are there to get the quick fix. We have a sport that can still facilitate three formats. We’ve got a 50-over World Cup in India next year and once that’s completed, just play less of it. Give that next two years clear space,” opined Fleming.
According to the report, 41,918 fans attended the first Test between West Indies and Australia at Perth across five days and just 42,819 collectively attended the three ODIs against England in mid-November.
Fleming said not much should be read into crowd behaviour given the number of fixtures and had a positive outlook for the rest of the summer.
“They started the Test match (against West Indies) on a Wednesday and that’s not friendly for people who are at work or kids who are at school. It’s not in school holidays and it’s against an opposition that, let’s be honest, not a lot of the public knew before that Test match.
“There’s a few contributing factors to the crowds but the atmosphere for the average crowd of 10,000 was pretty good to be honest. The Gabba, in a couple of weeks’ time and is getting closer to those school holidays, is almost sold out,” added Fleming.