Melbourne: With the first-ever international cricket match in a covered stadium passing without a hitch in the Colonial Stadium, the weather gods have been shut out from the game. Besides unveiling the future look of sports arenas, the first game of the historic three-match Super Challenge 2000 series also gave rise to some queries as to the future of cricket itself. The next logical step for international cricket is being hotly debated in cricket circles here.
Like numerous others, Australian captain Steve Waugh is of the opinion that soon, Test cricket would be played under lights and in covered stadiums. "I don't see any reason why not. I think the one problem cricket has at the moment is that even if you get a sunny day when it's been raining the previous night you still can't play," he said before the match on Tuesday. "If you've got the roof closed you can have a game of cricket. I think that's important for spectators and for players when they want a result," he said. "I think it's the way forward for cricket, it's an exciting concept and I don't think it will be too long before we see Test matches indoors," the Australian captain said. Later, Waugh put his approval on the match with an unbeaten 114.
However, the first indoor One-day match was not without its share of teething problems. The bowlers run-up had to be given a generous sprinkling of saw dust as the area there still retained water. The respective 12th men, Australian Andrew Symonds and his South African counterpart Boeta Dippenaar, had to rush to the field on numerous occasions with brushes to clean the bowlers' shoes of mud. Ian Chappel, commentator for Channel Nine television network, pointed out that the ball was not swinging as much as it would under normal circumstances. He blamed the absence of wind and relatively less moisture in the atmosphere for this phenomenon. Shane Warne, the lone spinner on view, would not complain against such condition as it suited his kind of bowling. Crowds, interestingly, stayed away from this historic occasion. The fresh-looking stands were largely empty even after office hours.
Around 25,000 cricket followers were present in the stadium when Australia registered yet another One-day match win, beating the Proteas by a comfortable 94-run margin.The stadium can accommodate 55,000 spectators. Live coverage of the epoch-making event by Channel Nine is said to be one of the reasons for the dismal turnout. In fact, an eye on television ratings is said to be the main reason for keeping the stadium capacity low. The planners reportedly kept the total capacity of the arena also called Dockland Stadium, to about 55,000.
This is less than half of what the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) can hold. The MCG can accommodate up to 120,000 spectators. Australian rules football clubs are already complaining about this as some of their fiercely contested club clashes attract crowds in the vicinity of 80,000-90,000. The low capacity means they are denied of the extra ticket revenue. India Abroad News Service.