- By Matthew Henry
- BBC Sport in India
Two weeks in and, on the pitch, the Cricket World Cup in India is well underway.
This weekend’s shock results – the first England defeat in Afghanistan before the Netherlands’ stunning win over South Africa – have breathed life into the tournament.
But the crowds, or lack of them, at the matches continue to be a point of discussion.
BBC Sport looks at the issues involved…
How are people doing?
Apart from India matches, there are many vacant seats in matches involving neutral teams.
The tournament began with England’s loss to New Zealand, played at the massive Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.
Organizers said 45,000 tickets were sold for the match, making it the highest attended opener in World Cup history. But there are more than 80,000 empty seats in the 132,000 capacity venue.
Since then there have been some good crowds – England v Afghanistan in Delhi being an obvious example between neutral teams – mixed with poor attendances in a country renowned for its love of cricket.
Official numbers are hard to come by from the organizers.
The World Cup is an International Cricket Council (ICC) event but is run on a day-to-day basis by the hosts, in this case the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
No figures have been given, despite repeated requests, for attendance at Saturday’s meeting between India and Pakistan in Ahmedabad, for what many expect to be a record crowd for a single game. in cricket.
More than 95% of tickets have been sold for the 2019 World Cup in England and Wales. Early signs suggest India will not be matched, although English cricket stadiums are smaller than India’s.
The 45,000 in the first game would have filled the Lord and left another 14,000 standing outside.
What are the problems?
There have been widespread reports on social media of fans struggling with the online platform used to sell and distribute tickets, with matches or sections of the ground showing to be sold out, but mostly nothing content.
There was confusion when thousands of tickets were released on the day of India’s match against Australia in Chennai – a fixture previously believed to be sold out.
BBC Sport spoke to England fans on flights to the matches who did not receive their tickets, while others were told theirs had to be collected from different cities from where the game was played.
All this comes after the schedule for the tournament is not finalized until August – tickets are sold less than six weeks before it starts, making it difficult for fans to plan to travel from abroad or other parts of the country. India.
Visas are also a problem.
Fans were largely unable to travel from Pakistan due to the political situation between the two countries, with Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur a critic of the partisan nature of the crowd for their match against India.
Many have suggested that the low crowds are evidence of the slow death of the 50-over format.
India certainly has little problem filling stadia for the Indian Premier League – the most lucrative of the T20 franchise leagues.
Those matches usually take place in the evenings, after the locals finish work, while most World Cup matches start at 14:00 local time, although the crowds grow in the late afternoon of when the temperature is cooler.
The crowds at Indian matches suggest that the Indian public loves Indian cricket. Whether that comes in neutral matches is less certain.
The multi-cultural nature of the UK population will certainly help when it comes to attendance at non-England games in 2019.
It should also be said that last year’s T20 World Cup in Australia had some strong crowds – 90,000 watched India v Pakistan in Melbourne – but also many poorly attended games.
It will be the third men’s World Cup in as many years across formats, with another T20 edition to follow seven months after the 2023 event.
But when world champions England, with IPL stars such as Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, face South Africa, which will include the likes of Quinton de Kock and Kagiso Rabada, in Mumbai on Saturday, there will be concern the organizers when the 33,000 capacity Wankhede Stadium is full of empty seats.