The Gabba may be a fortress for Australian cricket, but the poor crowd attendance on the opening Test of the summer hasn’t stopped experts discussing where it stands in the pecking order.
A sparse Gabba crowd to begin the Test summer wasn’t the best start for the venue's cause as Brisbane fights for an Indian visit next season.
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Just 13,561 watched Pakistan battle a patient Australian bowling attack on Thursday, with the two-Test series ending with a pink ball Test in Adelaide later this month.
India will play four Tests in Australia next summer, while Afghanistan will visit for the first time for a one-off Test preceding that series.
The new Optus Stadium in Perth, refurbished Adelaide Oval, plus Melbourne and Sydney's traditional Boxing Day and New Years slots leave the Gabba fifth in the pecking order and as the most likely venue for that maiden Test encounter.
In the Gabba's favour are the major public transport upgrades underway as part of a long-term rejuvenation of the precinct, plus the fact Australia haven't lost a Test at the venue since 1988.
But small crowds, albeit for games in awkward time slots, haven't helped the stadium in the short term.
Cricket expert Robert Craddock suggested the winning record at the Gabba is the reason the players would want to play in Brisbane against India.
“It’s such a big thing for this team to be able to win matches early in the series, India don’t like coming here,” he said on Fox Sports’ Cricket 360.
“But it’s a war between Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. I think Adelaide is the number one cricket ground in Australia at the moment, Perth is jostling hard.
“The refurbishment of $40 million, people are excited about it, but that to me doesn’t bring this ground up to the level of Perth. But they win here, what price do you put on victory?”
Shane Warne said during commentary it was “non-negotiable” that the Australian Summer should start with a Test at the Gabba. But he also conceded the crowd was only “okay for a workday”.
Fans on social media were not as forgiving.
If this is what the crowd is going to be at the Gabba, we should play in Canberra or Tasmania instead. #AUSvPAK— James Carlile (@PSG_Schalke) November 21, 2019
Cool to see all the blue, gold and maroon t-shirts in the crowd at the Gabba, looks packed!!#AUSvPAK— Brett McKay (@BMcSport) November 21, 2019
Less than 12,000 turned up for a low-key Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka in October this year, while only 13,900 attended day one of the twilight Test against the same opponent in January.
Pakistan last visited the Gabba in 2016 for a twilight Test that broke records as the best non-Ashes attendance, with 26,353 fans through the gates on the first day.
The Gabba has a 42,000-person capacity, with the 2006 Ashes series drawing close to 40,000 fans on each of the first three days.
Not since 2015 has the Gabba hosted the first Test of the summer against a side other than England, when a day one crowd of 16,181 watched Australia and New Zealand.