By Daniel Bingham
Sunrisers vs Thunder, at Northamptonshire on Saturday, was an excellent example of how to get more people watching live cricket.
First of all, tickets were just £2 – a price point which is accessible to everyone. (Of course, cheap tickets shouldn’t come at the expense of further professionalising the women’s game – but if you get people coming along now, you can hopefully persuade them to pay more next season.)
Secondly, tickets doubled up as tickets to “Bite Street” – a food festival being held at the Northamptonshire County Ground. This is a great way of bringing in people who previously thought that going to the cricket would be boring. There will have been some people there on Saturday who only went to the ground to grab some street food for lunch, but who stuck around on a gorgeous sunny day.
This isn’t to say that the day was perfectly organised: the food stalls were table service only – so it was unclear if you could take your food to the stands while the game happened. There also could have been more signage pointing people to where to go if they wanted to watch the cricket, and indicating that it was free to watch having already bought a ticket for Bite Street.
Ultimately, I think that grounds which rarely see international cricket should seriously consider organising something similar during the T20 Blast / Charlotte Edwards Cup. It is an excellent way to attract new people to the sport, as well as offering a bonus to the people who are going for the cricket already.
The Hundred was a good vehicle for children’s interest, with its DJs and in-ground activities, but other tournaments need to do more to attract that younger audience. If you can get more adults choosing to attend other matches outside of The Hundred, they’ll (hopefully) be excited to take their kids and grandkids in the future.