Test Cricket in Bangladesh Confuses and Concerns. A letter from Chittagong
The first day of a much heralded test match is greeted by an empty stadium. The camera has to work hard to find any spectators to focus on. Even as Moeen Ali reaches his hard worked and somewhat fortunate 50 he raises his bat for maybe 2 seconds looking around to even find a distant spectator to observe. SKY give us live coverage and the commentators describe the game as intriguing . Camera angles frequently almost deliberately give us views that seemingly demonstrate confirmation that the stadium is indeed empty. There are a handful of spectators mostly at the rear of a single stand and oddly a few more standing at the front behind the kind of fences one might envisage at the Pentagon. Peering through this safety related obstruction.
Yet this series was welcomed in by Bangladesh with huge amounts of money spent on security that also would not go remiss at a Trump rally at the White House.
The match is truly fascinating. England have reached 173-5 having been perilously at 21-3. Some of the Bangladesh bowling changes and choices seem curious at least and crazy possibly. England were on the ropes and have partially escaped to at least post a score of some sorts it seems. The cricket is certainly interesting as Michael Atherton concurs.
The end result though is that we have turned test cricket here into a global televised event without a spectating audience. Why? Are the prices too high? Are the locals not interested in test cricket? The interest in cricket in Bangladesh is high to say the least. Something is very wrong. Sport needs to be played in front of a crowd to generate an atmosphere . A superb innings from Moeen Ali should not be played in front of an empty stadium with no applause on his half century . As the day went on a few more locals entered the ground but mostly groups of schoolchildren. There is no doubt an effective security cordon but whether this really would delay or significantly entrance to the ground is dubious.
There also has to be some comment about the pitch which Atherton described at lunch on the first day as looking like a Day 3 wicket. A surface very much designed for spinners.
When sport is played in empty stadia no one wins and certainly not SKY .