Yesterday there were reported to be 5,000 unsold seats for the opening day of the Oval Test match – 5,000 empty seats. This was said to be the first time since 1986 that Day One of an Oval Test had not been a ‘sell out’.
But the Missing 5,000 could be seen as a sharp symbol of the lives being lost in Pakistan on a day when the UN prepared to go into emergency session to boost international aid to flood victims and as the numbers of those showing early symptoms of cholera fuel concerns.
The UN reports that it has raised just half of the $460m (£295m) needed for initial flood relief efforts and is concerned that the response remains slow.
The number of people in need of immediate assistance in Pakistan has now risen to eight million, but, according to the UN, fewer than a million of these have received basic supplies such as tents or plastic sheeting.
Cricketing Authorities should be counting the cost of letting the marketeers run the show. They have missed two important tides in the affairs of man: the impact of the recession on people’s willingness and ability to pay and the opportunity for cricket to take a lead in raising funds for flood victims: using cricket to connect with those who are suffering.
As Peter Roebuck posted at Cricket Action for Pakistan Flood Victims http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=140319736005386 yesterday, “Sport can draw attention to the plight of millions and also assist them in practical ways as well as in morale.”
When a form of cricket cuts itself off from its community it rightly loses the support of that community. Cricket, even Big Cricket, is a social phenomenon in every sense of the word.
But cricket can begin to reconnect by using its enormous power to raise the issue of aid, to raise cash and to raise morale among those most deeply affected.
The Disaster Emergency Committee’s web page is here.