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Sky has been allowed to be the be all and end all of British Cricket, well by the ECB anyway….. and yet there is viewer appetite for cricket on free to air, even if it is not test stuff as had been shown by ITV 4.

Siddle b Flintoff 7. Australia 388 for 9. Andrew Flintoff celebrates his five-wicket haul as England close in on their first win at Lords against Australia for 75 years.  Andrew also becomes fifth man to get on Lord’s honours board with bat and ball.

How many kids saw this moment live?  How many kids saw this moment at the time of the Ashes series?  How many kids actually know this moment existed?  Ok the kids may have been at school – but there were 5 Ashes matches some took place over the holidays, how many kids caught up with Ashes action?

How many urban kids?  How many from the heartlands of the greenfield rich countryside? Deepest Oxfordshire; in a small village called East Hendred. The very kind of place you would expect cricket still to be thriving;  but the view from Mel, of the fantastic Ceci and Mel, of Swanning about fame, paints a rather grim picture even from the rather more privileged areas of the county.  “The people in the village (who all educate their children privately) provide the bulk of the junior cricketers for our village team; those in state education (including my own lovely offspring) just aren’t interested unless they come from a cricket mad family”.

If Mel is not cricket mad enough, then the sport has problems.

She wrote this in reply to a Wisden Cricketer blog on the subject of cricket, TV and the ECB, from March 25th.

Unless they are from a ‘cricket’ family, I’m afraid that all of my kids’ friends are ambivalent at best about cricket. Ask them to name a current England player and most have to think a bit before coming up with Flintoff or KP; most don’t know how to play the game because sport at their school is run on an elective basis – therefore they don’t opt for cricket as they know nothing about it. The Ashes victory last summer passed most of them by.

It’s a real shame as it’s not as if they are not interested in sport – most of them love to play or watch football – but now that cricket isn’t something you come across on terrestrial tv but something which you have to actively seek out on a satellite channel it just doesn’t register on their radar. The highlights package on Five during home games just isn’t enough.

As a consequence, our local cricket club’s junior section mostly consists of the offspring of the senior players.

Shame.

The ECB may be using Sky money for a few lucky children, but the sport as a whole is slipping from the national conciousness.

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6 Comments

  1. Well, the ECB needs to compete with football in England which is beyond huge. That can’t be easy right?

    Just like trying to upstage Hockey, Baseball and Basketball in Canada isn’t easy but then again, we don’t even have a proper cricket team.

  2. Cricket has lost a lot of ground to Football since the latter has become big money. When I was little Cricket was a bigger profile sport

    This is world cup year of course – but traditionally domestic cricket has been played in the summer gap in the football year. So it should have a natural niche.

    But it is not a popular enough sport to exist without free to air exposure now. Plus, stupidly the ECB has extended the cricket season into the Football one!!!

    But with some managing of celebrity, the right type of marketing, and some easy and free exposure, I don’t see that cricket shouldn’t be as popular as formula 1. It is still more popular than you might think with over 35’s.

    The ECB is stifling the sport rather than enhancing it. International test cricket is one thing but their is so much more they should be doing with the domestic stuff.

  3. Its still on tv here, but govt regulations guarantee that. The team itself is lacking in characters and shows little interest in appearing likeable. The only time it made the front page is the Bingle scandal. The sport is probably losing participants to the various football codes, but not at the rate in the UK.

    I would guess the ECB doesnt give a toss about whether the youth get to see or take interest in the sport because England won the Ashes, so it looks like the situation is good. If they had lost like they probably should have, there would be a massive inquest and the spotlight drawn to lack of public interest. No doubt this will happen after the next Ashes series, when the knives will be out again.

  4. Oh god Ben – yes I think you are right

    The ECB care about youth suddenly when it comes to Sky! They say that it would be as disaster if the Ashes were to go to free to air cos it would mean the coaching and the development would be the first to go! Useful as a guilt trip to get their way.

    But they made sure other broadcasters were left out when they went to Sky and now none of them are interested in showing test cricket. So oddly Sky should get to keep the Ashes n other tests – there rest should go free to air.

  5. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will. Giles… do not… do not underestimate the powers of the Murdoch or suffer your father’s fate you will.

  6. Yeah, the ECB has been in the thrall of the Darkside for quite some time!


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