HAMPSHIRE were taken by surprise by the size of the last-day Ageas Bowl crowd that witnessed England's first Test win for nearly a year.
A similar crowd to the fourth-day attendance of 4,874 was expected – but 9,500 made it to see England complete a series-levelling win against India by 266 runs.
No Park & Ride was planned for the final day, resulting in long queues coming off J7 of the M27.
But Hampshire were delighted at the interest shown after reducing ticket prices from £35-£65 to £15 (adults) and from £10 to £1 (Under-16s).
Commercial director Stuart Robertson said: “We’re really, really pleased and a little bit surprised.
“It’s put some pressure on our transport coming in but we were budgeting on attendances previously and on what we’ve seen elsewhere so clearly something happened and caught the imagination on the very last day.
“It was fantastic to see so many people on the ground. The biggest walk-up (tickets bought at the gate) we’ve had during the week has been about 600 and we had a 6,000 walk-up which is incredible.
“We didn’t just guess what the crowd might be, we based that decision on very educated figures and real analysis of what ticket sales had been.
“With the best will in the world we couldn’t have predicted that one. We had plenty of car parking to accommodate the crowd we were expecting based on previous day’s sales and walk-ups elsewhere.
“We’ve been talking to other grounds and Trent Bridge’s fifth-day walk-up was less than 1,000, with similar last-day prices.”
The difference between yesterday and the fifth day at Trent Bridge, where a turgid wicket had resulted in a dull stalemate, was that England were on the verge of a much-needed win after a very good performance from Alastair Cook’s side over the first four days.
But head groundsman Nigel Gray and his team produced the perfect Test wicket that England thrived on.
Had the match been given a traditional Thursday start, Robertson believes the aggregate attendance would have been well above the 49,000 that made it to the Ageas Bowl over the five days.
“You can add at least 20 per cent on to that figure, for a start we would have expected the ground to be half full [and not a quarter full] if the fourth day had been a Sunday and not a Wednesday,” he said.
“But we’ve still sold more tickets than we did for our first Test against Sri Lanka so we’re building our Test audience.
“We’ve done everything we can to present this as a fantastic new Test match ground for the next generation.
“There’s no doubt there’s a market for Test cricket in this area. We’ve had some fantastic feedback."