England’s 2015 international summer begins tomorrow, with the first test against New Zealand at Lord’s. The second test begins on Friday 29th May, at Headingley.
Do you fancy going along? If so, how much will it cost to get in?
The price of test and ODI tickets in England – variable, but often high – ought to be higher up the news agenda than it usually is. The host venues are charged six- and seven-figures sums by the ECB to stage international fixtures, although the board don’t say exactly how much. That outlay must largely be passed on to spectators.
I tried to find out exactly how much supporters are asked to pay for tickets, so I wrote to every host county asking how many tickets were on sale, at which prices, for each 2015 international fixture. I did not request day five prices, as these are often adjusted the previous day, depending on the match situation.
Only two counties – Durham and Glamorgan – were prepared to disclose exactly how many tickets were available in each price bracket (although Warwickshire also came very close). Obtaining this information was crucial in order to establish average prices. If, say, tickets are on sale for £50, £75 and £100, it makes a hell of a difference to supporters’ pockets if 80% of the tickets are £50, or 80% cost £100. You can only buy the seats available, and when you go online to book, the cheaper ones might have all gone.
Later in the season I’ll tell you about the ODI and Ashes tickets. For now let’s just look at the New Zealand series. The following information comes from the press offices of, respectively, the MCC (for Lord’s) and Yorkshire CCC (for Headingley). It was correct as of pre-season. Both hosts may have lowered their prices in recent weeks to clear un-sold tickets, although I can find nothing on either’s website to suggest they have introduced discounts.
The MCC sent me this table.
As you can see, and excluding restricted views, ticket prices range from £75 to £80 on days one and two, £65 to £70 on day three, and £45 to £50 on day four. Tickets for under-sixteens are a quite reasonable £10 each.
I asked Lord’s for the capacities of each stand, but they did not disclose this, which makes calculating an average impossible. I was also unable to source verified stand-sizes from third parties. But just as a notional exercise, if we assume each stand has an identical capacity, the ‘average’ non-restricted-view ticket for the test match costs £67.50. Two parents with children aged fifteen or younger would be charged £155 for a day at the match, or £270 if they were sixteen or older.
I also inquired about the booking fee and other concessions apart from children (such as pensioners or people on disability benefits), but the MCC did not respond.
Yorkshire CCC sent the following information.
Ticket category Fri 29th Sat 30th Sun 31st Mon 1st
A £35 £35 £35 £15
B £35 £45 £35 £15
C £40 £40 £40 £15
D £45 £45 £45 £15
E £55 £55 £55 £15
Tickets for ‘juniors’ are £10 for the first three days, and £5 for the fourth day (also a school-day). Yorkshire also offered a £5 discount on each adult ticket if bought before 1st November last year.
Again, Yorkshire would not say how many tickets were available at each price. Using the same notional principle as with Lord’s, Headingley’s average prices are:
Day 1 – £42
Day 2 – £44
Day 3 – £42
Day 4 – £15
Days 1 to 3 average: £42.66. Overall average: £35.75.
Family of four price: days 1 to 3 – £105.32; day 4 – £81.50.
Yorkshire also declined to disclose the booking fee, and sent no information about other concessions.
The bottom line
Although I have no comparable figures from previous seasons, the counties appear to have made a genuine effort to reduce children’s prices to very affordable levels, which is to be commended. But whether the adult prices are fair is perhaps a matter for individual judgement. Going to the Headingley test will probably cost you less than most Premiership matches (although the players are commensurately paid far less). Lord’s charge roughly £25 (58%) more per ticket than Yorkshire, and an even greater margin for the fourth day – which seems a disproportionate degree of London weighting.
Ticket prices for the Ashes tests, and most of the ODIs, are much higher, as we’ll see later in the season when we return to this subject.
Other news in brief
The England-New Zealand series has overshadowed another imminent tour of arguably greater significance. Zimbabwe have just arrived in Pakistan, to play two T20 internationals and three ODIs against the host nation from May 19th to 31st. These will be the first international matches to take place in Pakistan since terrorists attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in March 2009. There is an interesting piece about the tour on Cricinfo.
My thanks to Nigel for flagging up this peach from Giles Clarke in an interview with Cricinfo’s David Hopps about the prospect of a rebel T20 league, which Clarke says (to use Hopps’s summary) “could severely damage the fabric of world cricket”.
Clarke went on to say:
Without volunteers, there is no cricket developed anywhere. It is not something to be traded as a purely commercial activity.
It is ingrained in the hearts, minds and cultures of men and women across the globe and in our multicultural societies. Volunteers in cricket do not want to work for profit-seeking enterprises, and nor will we allow greed to take away from the game its values, and the funds which support its grass roots and its future.
You have to hand it to Clarke for saying this with a straight face. The man who colluded with Allen Stanford and posed on the Lord’s outfield with a box of cash. The man who locked cricket behind a paywall. The man who shovelled cash to the counties in return for their support and sent the public the bill. The man who devised the Big Three and stitched up every other nation in world cricket. Clarke has done more to turn cricket into something “traded as a purely commercial activity” than anyone else in the game’s history.
I’m also grateful to both Gonthaar and Boer in Austria, on our comments board, for highlighting this piece from distinguished Indian cricket journalist Harsha Bhogle.
Strauss also needed to consider whether the time away from England had caused more fires to rage within Pietersen and whether those could be used to cut through the opposition. I am not very good at deal-making but I suspect Kevin Pietersen was a deal waiting to be made. He wanted desperately to play for England again and in such a state people are willing to give a lot to get what they crave for. I know I am saying this from a distance but I think Strauss has just let a great bargain go on his first day at work.
Gonthaar followed up with a striking observation:
We all know what happened last time when a hungry player was brought back to the fold in the Ashes. He [Mitchell Johnson] turned the whole series over and was the difference between the sides.
And finally, you can only feel sorry for Jos Buttler – hauled in front of the press to face unanswerable questions about Kevin Pietersen, his brain mangled by a media training which replaces normal English with a tortuous form of corporate bullshit. Do you have your ECB management-jargon bingo cards ready? Eyes down for a full house.
[Strauss] was very open and honest about what has gone on and all the players respected that. Nothing has been kept from anyone and everyone knows the reasons why things are happening and what the plan is moving forward. That is the main thing everyone has taken out of it. They see the way the team and English cricket as a whole is going to move forward.
He talked about it with passion and having been recently out of the game he knows what it is all about. I think that is a fantastic thing for the players to all focus on in putting that plan together.
Reactions to Alastair Cook’s press conference – still ongoing as I write – to follow later.