If there was ever a prime example of the changing nature of cricket nowadays it was the news that the world-famous Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) may lose its Ashes test when England tour there next year. One of the game’s most picturesque and recognisable grounds, the SCG has held tests there since 1882 and has played host to many a famous encounter between the two great rivals.
But history doesn’t pay the bills and with thousands of cash ridden punters willing to watch Ashes cricket, the Sydney leg of the tour may be moved to the ANZ Stadium in the Western suburbs of the City.
Why? Well, the maths is simple; the 2000 Olympic Stadium holds 80,000 people (nearly double the SCG’s poultry 44,000). To be fair, though, when you consider many test grounds in England struggle to hold 20,000, it’s no sleepy cricket ground that’s for sure.
Sadly the situation is complicated by mistakes made a decade ago.
The ANZ stadium, stuck out in the suburbs, quickly became a white elephant following the Olympics as the authorities struggled to find a further use for it. An Ashes test would make sense financially and give it viable usage once more.
But that would anger your traditionalists and presumably those who would rather walk to the centrally located SCG rather than hike out to the outskirts of the City.
Similar controversy was caused in the UK when Cardiff was awarded the first Ashes test ahead of more established grounds like Old Trafford and Trent Bridge. But the Swalec Stadium’s new facilities perhaps meant it deserved its chance and it is no surprise that an upgrade to Old Trafford has been announced in a bid to get the Ashes back; it has forced everyone to improve.
As a traditionalist myself I would like to see the SCG remain an Ashes test venue. It is a fantastic ground steeped in history and if the capacity could be extended slightly, it could make everyone happy.
However, the one thing that is certain in the modern game is that money talks and if the figures point to the ANZ, it seems a safe cricket bet that is where we will end up.