THREE indisputable truths were laid bare during Tasmania’s third and final fixture in this year’s cricket World Cup on Saturday.
1. That the gulf in class between Australia and Scotland’s bowlers was almost as vast as the geographical distance between the two nations.
2. That the same could be said for the countries’ respective batsmen.
3. That the Ricky Ponting Stand was built as much for the sport he so passionately supports as the one he so successfully played.
It is a fact everyone seems to acknowledge but nobody admits publicly.
The argument that Bellerive Oval needed a $15 million investment to become a 20,000 capacity in order to get World Cup matches looks rather hollow when that figure isn’t even reached by adding all three match attendances together.
The end result is that the AFL have had not one, but two stadiums built for it by Tasmanian taxpayers at hardly any cost to itself.
When it comes to duplication of venues, Tasmania is a market leader. The state now has two superb 20,000-capacity ‘‘boutique’’ arenas to service a population about the same as the NSW city of Newcastle.
After 4048 and 3549 crowds were recorded at the first two Bellerive fixtures in this tournament, organisers asked to be judged on the size of the third, featuring, as it did, the host nation on a non-school or work day.
The resulting crowd looked healthy but was recorded as 12,177. Where another 8000 spectators would be expected to fit in should the venue ever reach its stated capacity remains to be seen.
The dodgy weather cannot be blamed because just six weeks ago the ground hosted a One-Day International against the oldest of enemies on a day so hot that free sunscreen had to be distributed — and still only 10,784 turned up.
Meanwhile, any suggestion that Ireland, Zimbabwe, Scotland and Sri Lanka are not exactly big crowd-pullers or that the second match was played on a working and school-day brings back memories of October 30, 2003.
That was the night Launceston’s Aurora Stadium hosted its solitary fixture in the rugby World Cup.
It was between Namibia and Romania to decide which of the minnows would finish bottom in Pool A, both teams having lost every other game.
On a bone-chilling Thursday night, 15,457 turned up.
The lack of anything similar at Bellerive for cricket’s equivalent tournament is a crying shame because not only is it now a stunning venue but the three matches there were superbly presented and produced excellent entertainment.
Ireland and Zimbabwe could only be separated by five runs in a thriller, Sri Lanka’s majestic wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sangakkara amassed a lazy three world records in game two and although Saturday’s contest was just as one-sided, Mitchell Starc’s bowling alone was worth the admission.
Bellerive crowds had the opportunity to see the players leading the tournament run-scoring, batting averages, most centuries, most fours, wicket-taking, bowling averages and four-wicket hauls. And that was just Sangakkara and Starc.
And when one Riverside dad reported paying just $35 to sit on the hill with his three sons, it demonstrates the undeniable value for money.
In The Examiner in February and then The Mercury a month later, state and occasional national captain George Bailey warned his fellow Tasmanians they needed to support such fixtures or risk losing them.
‘‘The crowds have been a bit disappointing for international cricket in Tasmania,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s not something that should be taken for granted.’’
Test match crowds have been so consistently poor that the venue has not been awarded one since 2012, the final straw appearing to be the lack of support for what always loomed as a farewell home match for the state and country’s most successful player Ponting in 2011.
It’s all very well pushing for a day-night Test match, but is anybody actually going to attend it?
Meanwhile the footy season starts next month and the three AFL matches North Melbourne will host in Hobart feature two enticing Saturday afternoon Melbourne derbies, against the traditionally well-supported Richmond and St Kilda.
And by a stunning coincidence a ready-made venue is just waiting to host them.