Martin Smith Column: Who cares about cricket? Well, roughly 1.5billion people as it turns out...

Who cares about cricket? No really, who does?

Thursday, 2nd May 2019, 9:40 am
Updated Monday, 6th May 2019, 5:37 pm
England's Joe Root : Simon Galloway/PA Wire.

Blades and Barnsley are up, Millers and their uniquely charismatic manager are temporarily down and the Owls will regroup for a full season under Steve Bruce.

All done, the Premier League will sort itself out.

But as football’s rapacious devouring of audiences around the globe continues like an alien species without a natural predator, cricket this summer makes a stand.

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The Cricket World Cup in England and Wales will have a global TV audience of 1.5 billion viewers.

There were three million applicants for 650,000 tickets - sadly none of them for games in Sheffield but that battle was lost many years ago.

Cricket in this country is fighting for its life.

Incidents like Alex Hales’ continued use of recreational drugs - come on mate, you’re a 30-year-old professional cricketer, not a 19-year-old gap-year gull - doesn’t help the sport or his team and memories of Aussie ball-tampering are still painful.

But the World Cup, it is hoped, can wipe all that away and bring more youngsters to grass roots cricket.

THE ICC’s man in charge Steve Elworthy wants to engage a million under 16s through the Cricket World Cup: "We want to get 100,000 young people to watch a World Cup game, and have priced tickets for them at £6 a time,” Elworthy told the BBC.

"We want to engage with new cricket audiences, get people to play in schools and elsewhere, as well as to watch it.”

The London Olympics-style World Cup volunteer programme was heavily oversubscribed and the ECB's All Stars Cricket programme will give children aged five to eight a first experience in the game.

Cricket needs promotion like never before in the country that gave the game to the world.

It needs a tournament to remember and one to start its rebirth at a mass-participation level.

Cricket’s coming home this summer, let’s give it a proper welcome.

*There’s always magic at the Crucible.

Every year someone does something to linger in the memory long after the last click of the cue ball.

This year Judd Trump’s mesmerising power, skill and complete self-belief in the first day of the World Snooker Championship final will stay with those present - and those at home - for a long time.

A force of sporting nature echoeing the genius of Alex Higgins and Ronnie O’Sullivan at their instinctive, mercurial best.