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Category Archives: Right place, Right time, Right price

At New Road our Championship match against Worcestershire was played until 19.53.  There was a late start due to rain, there were intervals in play due to rain.  But at a quarter to eight the seamers were still bowling.  Competitive red ball cricket into the evening is possible even in Mid May.

We are in a temperate country, our summer days are long, we could play championship matches into the summer evenings, we would not even have to resort to a pink ball.

There are evening T20’s and evening one day matches.  We play those in the evening so more people can attend.

So tell me again… just why are there no evening Championship matches in June and July?

So sense prevailed.  No one saw any advantages in a reduced program of first class cricket, preferring the more obvious trimming back of limited overs matches, which have proliferated recently.

Championship division one stays as a 9 team concern and the Championship stays as the fantastic 16 match per season event that we know and love.

Would have been mad, having just produced an away Ashes winning England team, also presumably Counties would have risked a lower income from reduced memberships which include Championship matches but not T20.

The ECB have listened…. I’m nervous – this is a new thing, surely that can’t last can it?

But while they are at it….. Summer [and weekend] Championship cricket …..Please?????

This time the momentum of such a sharply tuned team proved unstoppable, and England, captained by Collinwood beat a fine Australian side with overs to spare.

England won the T20 world title, and have looked every part a world beating team throughout the tournament.  Now that really is quite something.  We even managed to have a paternity leave and still romp home.  Well done the Lads.  And Captain Fantastic?  …Just a bit!

Don’t forget, many things slip off the hook when elections happen and the ECB are one of those to have been handed a lifeline in the shape of the general election.  This means the thorny subject of the Ashes and its status as a ‘must be broadcast free to air event’ [the so called ‘crown jewels’ list of British sport] due to be decided this June, now of course will not be.

So there, the ECB will have lots of lovely time to think about how it can get cricket on the free to air box, whilst not pissing it’s purse string holder, Sky, off! How about some domestic Twenty20 finals at the very least?  Worth a barter surely?  And Sky could try to benevolent as part of it’s ongoing Ofcom squabbling?

The Season; it used to start just before May!

The blog the Corridor has also noted this

” Last year it started on April 15; in 2008, it was the 16th. 2007? The 18th. The first Championship matches of the new millenium began on April 26″.

What is the point for this seasonal creep stupidity.  They actively want people to turn up and freeze, that is if the weather or bad light does not intervene.  They want cold players risk more injury?

I know Airlines are starting to sponsor Counties, but the carbon footprint does need to be addressed.

Start scheduling championship matches back into the summer – there is that talk about playing the first few out of the country now because someone has just noticed that early April is not a time when you should be playing cricket…..Abu Dhabi and Barbados, are not British or local?

Actually the weather is set for fair, so hopefully it will be a nice weekend [and that is rare]!

For a spot of what team is who you could look at Dan’s cricket blog. He has quite an extensive resume of the teams for this season.

OK a week till Durham play their first match, and the team photo’s have been done….  This is from last year and it has had the Ceci and Mel treatment, needless to say I have always loved it.

If you have not come across their brand of quick of the draw, topical hilarity,  click on this Swanning About link right away.  Class acts don’t come much classier!

Oh yeah they are not overly fond of the ECB either…

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.

The standard of current four day championship cricket in Division one is very high.  The above was an exciting match from an exciting and tense 2008 season.  But Mr Collier is on the record as saying ” the cost of a new-look County Championship will be the loss of some of the integrity of the two-division structure.” So change, but not progress; worrying.

Angus Porter of the Professional Cricketer’s Association has called for clarity and early decisions from the ECB as to what it’s proposals are for the Championship, and reduction of matches not only in the Championship but also other forms of domestic county cricket.

“I do not think the players would necessarily go with the Championship as the only place to reduce. They also want a closer look at 40-over cricket and I think they are nervous that we might be overdoing Twenty20″…..

“We must make sure we structure the schedule correctly in 2011 and beyond to fit in the right amount of cricket and move from quantity to quality.”

The players want a reduction in total playing days, and for that reduction to be honoured and not turned into some other add on to a different competition.  Some rational, some sense.

The mismatch of the MCC v Durham clash, where the MCC side was drawn mainly from the second division should have been enough to kill off any idea that randomly drawn conferences would be useful to the further development of the game or player quality.

Change does not always make things better.  What are the ECB actually trying to achieve?

Cut down the number of matches? There are many ways of doing that, but not all of them will result in less, but more challenging games.

More meaningful challenging cricket?  So less matches and matches of an intensity that pits the best against the best.  Where players are ready, rested and at their peak to perform to the max.

So merit groups or a random groups?  The ECB has yet to come out about how they view either in terms of better quality cricket.

A conference of non merit groups [either totally random or regional]; more mismatched matches, less testing cricket for the best players, and those matches will be less of a spectacle for any spectators not turned off by the prospect.

MCC v Durham type standard  is what you would get more of, not less; so a greater proportion of dross, and less games.  Most matches would be dross.

So conference match reduction; the players get more time to rest, travel less, but waste that precious playing time, and that of any spectators.  People turning out for a ‘rare and supposed spectacle of a damp squib’ – I think not. [And in the cold of an April day,  give us a break….]

I have yet to find anyone who actively watches county cricket [rather than just writes about it] that is in favour of non merit groupings.

The time I decide not to watch an IPL match because I’m not that interested now in Deccan or Rajasthan, I find out that Andre Nel has been in the ITV 4 studio, damn!

But lots of people are tuning in, ITV 4 has a bit of a viewership coup on it’s hands.  It is now topping half a million on a Sunday afternoon.

Remind me again – just why is our domestic competition not available even as a highlights package on free to air?

The lure of fee to air TV!  As many people in Britain are watching the IPL as watched the Bangladesh v England tests.