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Quality cricket will bring in the fans


The cricket itself wasn’t memorable. The Stars were bowled out for 108. The Giants won the game in the 10th over of their chase

Last Saturday at 12.30pm I was at the Wanderers for the Jozi Stars’ Mzansi Super League game against the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants.

Sho Madjozi was also there, brightly attired, braided locks waving one way then another. Later she was given a Jozi Stars shirt. She claims to be a Jozi Stars fan. The Stars have the best looking kit in the MSL. This season, that’s about all that’s good about them.

They are not attracting a crowd. Besides Sho, only 2 843 other people turned up at the Wanderers last Saturday. The cricket was the main attraction, but the Stars had also advertised a post-match Gin Festival. I don’t think more than 100 people turned up for that.

The cricket itself wasn’t memorable. The Stars were bowled out for 108. The Giants won the game in the 10th over of their chase.

People were irritated, first by a fire alarm ringing away for more than three hours and then by the fact that for whatever reason, virtually the whole of Corlett Drive was cordoned off, for ‘crowd management’.

So strict were officials about who could go into the ground, that at one point even Chris Morris, who plays for the Giants, was blocked from entering.

I know Cricket South Africa and the players association are at loggerheads over various issues, but holding up a player ahead of a match in which he is playing is a little harsh.

Sho Madjozi isn’t going to get people into the stadiums – although there’ll be no harm in Cricket SA putting in a request for a quick half-time show – nor will a Gin Festival, or so called “influencers”.

The cricket has to be a spectacle and there have been far too few spectacles in the MSL thus far.

The two most dramatic games have come in the last week; the Tshwane Spartans, led by a terrific innings of 88 not out by Dean Elgar, won in the last over against the Paarl Rocks last Sunday, and on Wednesday night Morris hit a six in the last over to beat the Cape Town Blitz.

The MSL needs more of that to help it gain traction with the South African public.

High school exams will be wrapped up in the next week or so, the same goes for the universities, and hopefully the MSL will prove to be attractive for pupils and students, who now have time on their hands.

South African cricket could do with some better news even if it is only superficial at a time when the sport looks like it’s in crisis and the MSL must prove that.

The players, despite their fights with CSA, are desperate for this tournament to work and if bigger crowds come through the gates – and they’re not too inconvenienced by security – hopefully the quality of the product will improve too.

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