Spring is here, signified by swooping magpies, footie scarves being stored away and barbecues being invaded by scurrying spiders. As the season changes, so does the sound of a perfectly timed on-drive skimming over grass, marking the beginning of the domestic cricket season.
The author was drawn to the second day of the Victoria versus Queensland Shield match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with the hope of witnessing a beautifully played stroke. However, they were surprised by the low turnout, with only 42 spectators present.
It seems that the Shield competition is facing a decline in interest and attendance, possibly due to the absence of top test cricketers, lack of rivalry, and minimal advertising and promotion. Unlike other major sporting leagues, the Sheffield Shield lacks a strong national following.
The competition is also competing with the popularity of the Big Bash, which offers a faster and more thrilling format of the game. For now, the Shield remains the domain of cricket purists who enjoy the slow build and subplots of longer-form cricket.
Despite the challenges, the Shield offers an opportunity to watch first-class cricket without constant advertising and commercialization during matches. It seems, for now, the Shield is appreciated by a small but dedicated group of fans, as the crowd did gradually swell to at least 200 spectators.