YORKSHIRE are hopeful that New Zealand’s unexpectedly strong showing against England will help boost ticket sales for the Headingley Test.
The club have sold around 7,000 tickets for each of the first two days out of a ground capacity of 16,000.
With the game starting in just eight weeks’ time, Yorkshire would ordinarily expect to have sold 13,000-plus tickets for each of the first two days of a Test at this stage.
However, the combination of the early fixture, with the game taking place from May 24-28, along with the fact New Zealand are ranked No 8 in the world, has meant take-up for the match has been predictably sluggish.
Colin Graves, Yorkshire’s executive chairman, is optimistic that New Zealand’s fine performance in the series just ended will amplify interest in the quick-fire return.
Graves said there had already been “a slight upturn” in demand after the Kiwis improbably held England to a 0-0 draw, having almost won the series in the last Test in Auckland.
Although Yorkshire have worked tirelessly to market their match, the last of a two-Test series, it has been difficult not only for the aforementioned reasons but because the weather has been poor and there is an Ashes series later in the year vying for people’s money. But England’s pain in New Zealand could yet turn out to be Yorkshire’s gain as the clock ticks down to the Headingley showpiece.
“One of the good things to come out of the series from an English point of view and a Yorkshire point of view is that hopefully more people will now want to watch the series in England,” said Graves.
“It’s proved New Zealand are nowhere near as a bad as everyone said they were because they came out fighting and showed they can compete.
“I think England will be fired-up to get the better of them this time and prove that they’re the superior side.
“The Headingley Test has got all the makings of a cracker, and hopefully more people now will come along to watch it.”
Headingley has the cheapest Test tickets this summer, with prices ranging from £30-£65 for adults on the first two days.
However, Graves admitted it had been a tough sell.
“We’re not near the level we thought but I think there are a number of reasons for that,” he said.
“Some people have perhaps perceived it as a minor series, which New Zealand have proved it isn’t, while the cold weather certainly hasn’t helped.
“Nobody is in a cricketing spirit at the moment with all the snow around; people don’t even want to think about leaving their front rooms, let alone going to watch cricket.
“But the other thing that should help is that the game takes place over a Bank Holiday weekend.”
Another factor which may assist Yorkshire is that up to three of their own could play in the match – Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Tim Bresnan.
“All those lads could potentially take part,” added Graves.
“If Tim is fit, I think they might want him to prove his fitness following his elbow injury, while Joe and Jonny could also be involved.”
Yorkshire could be forgiven for casting envious glances south, where there have been strong ticket sales for the first Test at Lord’s.
The ground has all the historic advantages of being world cricket’s headquarters, while there is a sizeable Kiwi population in the London area. Lord’s has sold out for days two and three and almost for the opening day – May 16. They have also sold more than 15,000 tickets for day four,
Ticket sales are going very well for the Headingley one-day international between England and Australia on September 6.
Graves said Yorkshire had sold 80 per cent of capacity and urged people to snap up the remaining tickets before it is too late.
“I would advise people to buy them in the next four weeks,” he said. “Otherwise, they could miss out.”
For details on how to buy tickets for the Headingley Test and one-day international, ring 0871 971 1222, visit www.yorkshireccc.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cricket met American football yesterday when Yorkshire welcomed a Viking invasion from across the pond.
NFL side Minnesota Vikings are in Britain on a promotional tour and, with Yorkshire having recently changed their one-day name to Yorkshire Vikings, they thought it would be a good idea to visit Headingley to swap kit and tips on technique with their cricketing counterparts.
Yorkshire’s Liam Plunkett, Phil Jaques and Jack Brooks entered into the spirit by donning helmets and shoulder pads, while gridiron aces John Sullivan, Kyle Rudolph and Harrison Smith put on a different kind of padding in the nets.
Minnesota, who reached the NFL play-offs last year, are promoting a Sky Sports television series called Inside the Vikings, which airs on April 3.