20-overs cricket pulls crowds in South Africa

Published: Wednesday, April 28, 2004, 21:29 [IST]
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Durban:The recently introduced 20-over cricket - Pro20 - is proving to be a big hit in South Africa and have wooed the spectators back to domestic cricket.

Since the tournament got under way on April 7, a total of 1,22,542 cricket fans had flocked to cricket grounds around the country to watch the 14 games played so far.

"To put it simply this has been unheard of for a long time," Ros Goldin, a spokesperson for the United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) said.

"We have given the consumers what they want... A short-duration, quality product," he said.

The competition, now at the semi-final stage, has rejuvenated the domestic cricket scene, drawing thousands of spectators to each of the 14 first-round games, he said.

Pro 20 was the brainchild of a former cricket official, Imtiaz Patel, who is now involved with the 'Supersport' TV channel.

"There's a sparkle to it. The crowds love it, and the players love playing in front of crowds. Sponsors were starting to leave the game; now sponsors and suite-holders will stay in ITV, said Patel.

The new competition had become a hit mainly due to the on-air banter between captains and commentator, a heart-rate monitor of batsmen to see how much of a flutter was caused when they faced fast bowlers, live music and spectators being dumped in a pool after boundaries were hit.

The UCBSA hit upon the idea after it was found that very few people were attending the four-day provincial matches.

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