Many cricket pundits have already given the PM’s XI concept the last rights after just 1,824 people turned out for the game against South Africa at Manuka Oval.
Personally, I think the annual match still has a future in Canberra with the belief that this year there were many contributing factors conspiring against the game attracting a full house. To start with, who knew the game was on apart from 1,824 people in Canberra? There appeared to be very little hype or promotion surrounding the game. There wasn’t even the traditional build-up around the selection of the captain, the team, or which (if any) Canberra players would be selected, and the follow-up outrage if no Canberra players were selected.
To say there needs to be more Canberra-based promotion of the fixture is a massive understatement. It is supposed to be an annual event, yet the PM’s XI had already played against England in February this year at Manuka. This could have caused some confusion.
Cricket’s officialdom can’t work out if it is to be a one-dayer, a day-nighter, or a T20 game. I get the distinct impression that the fixture has, at times, become an afterthought with administrators finding it hard to find a time slot in a crowded calendar.
And speaking of a crowded landscape, there is so much cricket coming up in Canberra in the next four months that quite possibly people who may have attended the PM’s game may be keeping the powder dry until the two men’s and women’s Big Bash games and Canberra’s first ever men’s test match take place in February.
It may be that the PM’s XI was simply a victim of an oversupply with ticket sales for the Big Bash and the test going extremely well. The elephant in the room is, of course, the off-field malaise in the sport which has diverted focus to some degree away from the sport.
There are plenty of reasons why only 1,824 turned out to watch the PM’s XI play South Africa. The key to ensure the future viability of the game is to ensure first and foremost that people know the game is on and that the fixture itself has meaning and not and perceived as an inconvenience in the scheduling.