|CREDIT: PhotoSport (Added by Auckland Cricket) - 1457 views, 0 comments||ID: 23250|
The HRV Cup reaches its final stages this weekend and as the Aces head to Wellington for a semi-final date with the Firebirds, the figures are in on what has been a hugely successful season for crowd attendance in Auckland.
This year saw the innovation of Friday Nights Under Lights with Auckland playing host to three games out on the main oval at Eden Park on consecutive Friday nights.
That move has proved to be a winner with average match attendance across the three games being almost 6,000 and the game against the Otago Volts on 4 January seeing more than 7,000 people turn up to watch the HRV Cup action. That number marks a quantum leap from the previous average of 2500 for Auckland HRV Cup games.
The pitches and conditions have played their part with all games being high scoring affairs on excellent batting wickets - borne out by an average score of 188 over the six innings played.
The players have also enjoyed playing on such a great surface and in front of bigger crowds who have played their part with chants and hand-claps to get in behind the Aces.
Aces skipper Gareth Hopkins agrees that the main oval experience has been a great success.
"All the guys have really enjoyed playing out there. It's a fantastic surface, the wicket has been great and to have that many people in the stadium is brilliant. It really gives some atmosphere to the game and you can feed off that as a player."
Auckland Cricket CEO Mark Cameron is pleased that what was seen as a gamble by many has been such a success.
"There were definitely some doubters out there before we started but I think the numbers we've had plus the experience that people have enjoyed in the main stadium across those three games have proved that it was an experiment that worked very well. Eden Park is a great venue and a fantastic place to play and watch cricket - I think the HRV Cup has reminded people of that fact in the best possible way."
Attention now turns to the rich diet of international games scheduled for Eden Park this season with the soon to arrive English tourists due to play a twenty20, ODI and test match in Auckland.
That full calendar and especially the test match is something that Cameron believes Auckland cricket fans should be excited about.
"To have three games in Auckland is fantastic for our cricketing public and to have a test match for the first time in seven years against a quality English side is great news. We know that the English supporters will be here in numbers and we'd love to be able to match that with an equally strong local contingent to bring a really lively atmosphere to the ground."
Fans don't have long to wait for their first taste of the English with the T20 coming on 9 February, followed by the ODI two weeks later on the 23 and then a month's wait until the test match commencing on 22 March.
HRV Cup - Crowd figures for Eden Park
21 Dec - Auckland Aces v Canterbury Wizards 5649
28 Dec - Auckland Aces v Wellington Fierbirds 5011
4 Jan - Auckland Aces v Otago Volts 7040
England tour dates at Eden Park
International Twenty20 - Blackcaps v England, February 9, 7pm
One Day International - Blackcaps v England, February 23, 2pm
Test match - Blackcaps v England, March 22-26, 10.30am
Full tour schedule http://www.blackcaps.co.nz/schedule/the-anz-series-v-england/130/series.aspx