Cricket Australia
have finally played their hand and it’s no secret that they want
grounds filled with Aussies during the next Ashes series. No surprises
there.

In typically bland corporate language,
designed to dull the fact that Aussies would be getting an easier run at
tickets than their British counterparts, Cricket Australia
CEO James Sutherland yesterday told the media that English fans would be given
“every opportunity” to compete for Ashes tickets, but only after Australians
had taken their fill.

No cricket-loving Aussie would expect it to
be any other way. Nine months out, there is an unprecedented buzz surrounding
the series. Cricket Australia are going to make a killing, merchandisers are
rubbing their hands together, and potential sponsors are no doubt being told to
get in the queue and bring as many spare zeroes as they’ve got. Oh, and there
are some fans looking forward to the cricket as well.

According to Sutherland,
members of the
Australian “cricket family” will get a three week head start. Tickets
for “family members” will be on sale from June 1. Everyone else will
have to wait
until June 19.

As this morning’s Herald Sunreports,
that family includes registered members of cricket clubs, participants in
junior development programs, Cricket Australia
and state association sponsors, and broadcast partners. The rest of us can
become a member of the family by registering on the Cricket Australia website.

Note that it doesn’t include members of the
Australian public. In what is sure to provide Cricket Australia
with more demographic information on cricket fans, and a marketing database
that would usually take years to build, anyone hoping to get tickets from June
1 must first register with Cricket Australia.
If you don’t, you’ll have to wait until June 19 and compete for tickets with
English fans.

And the English response? The famously
ferocious English press haven’t reacted with too much venom, yet. But England
captain Michael Vaughan is quietly confident the crowds will have a pleasingly red,
white and blue look to them.

“England fans are very clever and have special ways of
getting tickets and I’m sure we’ll be well supported in Australia,” he said.

Peter Fray

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