By Mark Baldwin
Surrey’s remarkable success story in recent years of attracting more and more people to watch T20 cricket at the Kia Oval is set to continue this summer.
More than 110,000 attended last year’s seven T20 matches at the ground – and topping even that impressive statistic over the next six weeks remains a viable target for the club’s marketing and sales department.
Advance ticket sales for Surrey’s seven home south group Vitality Blast matches, which take place from July 23 to August 29, are already up on last year’s figures at the same stage of the lead-up to the competition.
“As of last Friday, which was 12 days’ out from our first home game – the fixture against Middlesex on July 23 – our ticket sales are 18 per cent up year on year,” said a club spokesman.
Surrey officials are particularly pleased that, to date, more than 80,000 advance tickets have been sold given that this summer’s ‘one-off’ fixture schedule – in which all domestic matches were positioned to fit into a season based around the World Cup – means just one home game taking place on the club’s favoured Friday evening slot.
That fixture indeed, the August 9 meeting with Gloucestershire, is already sold out – underlining why Surrey would always prefer as many Friday evening fixtures as possible at the Kia Oval.
Nevertheless, the impressive figures for overall advance ticket sales also show the continued strong appeal of all Surrey’s home T20 games.
Moreover, only a small number of tickets remain available for the first two home group matches – against Middlesex next Tuesday and then against Glamorgan two evenings later on July 25.
Surrey’s other four home games are against Kent Spitfires on Tuesday July 30, Sussex Sharks on Thursday August 15, Somerset on Tuesday August 27 and Essex Eagles on Thursday August 29.
More than 7,500 junior tickets have also been sold, to date, and a total of 6,000 tickets overall have been sold since last Friday in a possible extra ‘bounce’ created by England’s thrilling World Cup final victory over New Zealand at Lord’s last Sunday.
Surrey have secured sponsorship from video games giants Xbox for the club’s Family Zone, which is already sold out for the first two games of the campaign. All tickets for U16s are priced at just £1 as Surrey continue their ‘Kids for a Quid’ policy.
Tom Curran, meanwhile, is due to play his first competitive match for more than seven weeks when Surrey kick off their Vitality Blast campaign with a visit to Chelmsford tomorrow evening (July 19) to play Essex Eagles.
Curran, a non-playing member of England’s World Cup squad, last played on May 27 when Eoin Morgan’s team took on Afghanistan in a World Cup warm-up game at the Kia Oval.
Liam Plunkett, one of England’s World Cup winning heroes, is being rested this week but is available for Surrey’s London derby against Middlesex next Tuesday and all subsequent Blast fixtures.
Jason Roy, Sam Curran and Rory Burns, who have all been selected in England’s 13-man squad for next week’s Test against Ireland at Lord’s, are unavailable for Surrey’s trip to Chelmsford.