by Gareth Allison
The mouth-watering prospect of seeing Test cricket’s top-ranked side, England, take on foes South Africa next year has already proved to be a great incentive for the British public, as 21 000 tickets for the opening Test at The Oval were sold in a mere three hours.
Going on sale on Tuesday morning at 10am GMT, tickets were snapped up at a blistering pace, with Surrey CCC offering fans a unique new service by the name of “Tweet Your Seat” as well. Ticket-holders were encouraged to send their stand, block & seat number to the county via their official Twitter account; in return, they would receive a photo of their view of the ground from that particular seat.
This is not only great news for the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), but for world cricket as a whole after dismal crowds in recent international fixtures, particularly in notoriously cricket-mad India, had become a concern for lovers of the five-day game. Test cricket is more popular than ever in England, with the national team riding the crest of the wave after back-to-back Ashes victories and a dismantling of former champions India propelled them to top spot on the rankings.
South Africa arrive in the UK in 2012 for three Tests in July and August, and will be looking to push the hosts hard after their historic 2-1 series victory over the Poms during their last tour of the country in 2008-09.
England will have three Tests against Darren Sammy’s West Indians before South Africa arrive on their shores, with matches scheduled for Lord’s, Trent Bridge and Edgbaston. The Proteas will be arriving on the back of a tour of New Zealand, and will have warm-up matches against Somerset, Derbyshire and Kent to find their feet before striding out at The Oval to face Andrew Strauss’ men in what should prove to be a fascinating series.
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