Cape Town – Cape Town Blitz coach Ashwell Prince acknowledges that crowd numbers have been disappointing in the opening week of the 2019 Mzansi Super League (MSL).
The tournament, in its second edition, has been identified by Cricket South Africa (CSA) as a key mechanism in alleviating the financial strain the organisation is under.
However, after four matches in this year’s tournament (one was washed out without a ball being bowled), there are no signs that the South African public has bought into the product.
If the tournament continues in this manner, it will place CSA under increased pressure and that is something the organisation does not need at this stage.
CSA and the South African Cricketers Association (SACA) are already engaged in a legal battle surrounding the proposed domestic restructure that CSA wants to implement from next season while the Proteas are currently without a director of cricket following the sudden and controversial suspension of Corrie van Zyl.
Enoch Nkwe is serving as the acting team director, or head coach, but there is no certainty on his immediate future either with a visit from England on the cards for December.
To say that the spotlight is on CSA CEO Thabang Moroe and his leadership is an understatement, and they must now deal with the reality that the MSL has moved backwards in terms of crowd numbers.
The opening game of the 2019 edition on Friday night saw defending champions, the Jozi Stars, host last season’s runners-up, the Cape Town Blitz, where a total of 411 runs were scored in a cracking T20 contest.
International stars like Quinton de Kock, Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Moeen Ali, Chris Gayle, Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma and Kagiso Rabada were all on show, but that was not enough to bring people through the gates.
Around 1 000 tickets were sold prior to the match and it was reported that the final total attendance figure did not reach 5 000 on the day.
“I’m not entirely sure what to put it down to, but it is quite disappointing,” Prince said of the crowd numbers.
“I think we expected more people around the grounds and expected more people at the Wanderers for the opening game.
“We had a great vibe and atmosphere at Newlands last year for the opening game.
“It was quite disappointing at the Wanderers, but hopefully it will pick up during the tournament … I am not quite sure at this point what to put it down to.”
In an effort to lure spectators to Newlands for Thursday’s return clash between the Blitz and the Stars, all tickets, irrespectively of whether they are on the grass or in the stands, are on sale at R30.
Play starts at 17:30.