Gambling the Family Jewels

Well everything is bright and rosy in the Garden of Eden that is England Cricket or that is what we have been told to believe by one of our beloved leaders, the vacuous ECB mouthpiece which is Tom Harrison. Dmitri did a brilliant job of deconstructing the various rubbish that the empty suit spewed in his various interviews over the past week, so I’m going to try and not go over old ground, instead I’m trying to fathom what this actually means for English cricket going forward.

Amongst all the corporate language and boring platitudes that were trotted out by Harrison, the most revealing comment was that “There’s a moment when we need to have a leap of faith, and I think we’re very close to that”. So in other words, it’s a case of sticking your finger in the air and hoping for the best, not exactly a ringing endorsement of the ECB’s strategic capabilities by any means. This is the equivalent of going all in on red at the casino table, hey you may be lucky and win the prize or it may come down on black and hence you lose everything – 130 years of county cricket down the drain because you went on a stupid hunch.

As for the competition itself, it more and more seems to be a bodge job with every day that passes. Surely if franchise cricket (or city based cricket, it’s the same thing to me) is what you believe in as the savior of English cricket then go the whole hog, replace the Blast with the new competition and start aggressively marketing it now – county opposition or not. The fact we will still have the T20 Blast in some form or another in an already busy calendar, which will now be viewed as an inferior competition and the fact that the new ‘Super T20 competition’ will take players away from the County Championship in the most important part of the season, thus making that an inferior product too doesn’t seem to make an awful amount of sense to me bearing in mind the investment needed.

The irony of all this is that the attendances at the Blast have been rising exponentially over the past years, certainly in the South of England, with a growth of 63% over the past four years. This might well be down to the fact that the majority of games are held on a Friday night and from experiences attending them myself, it does seem that a large make up of the audience tends to be younger males looking to throw down a number of beers in the sun before heading out for the evening (though quite why you would choose to consume Foster’s at £5.50 a pint in large quantities is beyond me); however the numbers don’t lie, the Blast has continued to see growth. Now I’m not saying the Blast is an ideal format, there are too many pointless games when qualification has all been assured or not, it is impossible to screen more than one game on TV, so broadcasters have to play lucky dip, hence we all got to miss out on Chris Gayle smashing a hundred at Taunton a couple of years ago and the competition lasts too long to get the top draw T20 players to attend. However, I think it would be fair to say that the cricketing world needs another T20 competition like a shark needs a bowler hat, quite simply it doesn’t. This is the crux of the matter, we have simply missed the boat as every Test playing nation has a T20 competition. What was new and innovative when the IPL came into place has become a dull, yearlong parade of mediocrity in the most part. If the ECB had been deadly serious about a new franchise competition as the only way to save English cricket, then it should have done it 5 years ago before all the other leagues started to pop up, not in 2020, when potentially everyone is sick of seeing Dwaine Bravo or Thisara Perera on their screens for 12 months solid and the format is already stale.

One of the most worrying things for me is the lack of market testing that the ECB has carried out. It is estimated that people will travel between 3-5 miles to attend a Blast game, how do they know that more people will travel to a South London Stags or a Manchester Moose’s game? That is obviously a rhetorical question, as quite obviously they don’t, no matter how much money is thrown at marketing the new competition. Then there is the case of actually alienating current fans. English cricket is fairly unique in it’s structure with so many first class teams and many fans are very tribal about the counties they support and rightly so (perhaps the exception is India, who have a large first class competition, but they struck while the iron was hot with the IPL), so how many of these fans are going to pay extra on top of what they already spend to go and see a team that they have absolutely no allegiance to? I couldn’t see myself getting particularly passionate about supporting a South London side and I guess many are in my boat too. Perhaps we’re not the ones that the ECB wants to get through the door, as the ECB is desperate to get kids involved as shown by the “Chance to Shine” programme, which in my opinion is simply a sticky plaster across an open wound. If the ECB is banking on attracting loads of families to attend the new competition as their main source of revenue, then it is a completely reckless gamble. Cricket has been out of the public eye since 2005, with only a select few that can either afford Sky or have family with a keen interest in the sport that have continued to follow the sport. Throwing a few plastic bats and kit at kids, when club cricket and interest in the game has continued to decline rapidly, is a bit like pissing into the wind. Sure the empty suit might think that Jonny Bairstow or Ben Stokes are the recognisable face of English cricket, but if I went to the average state primary school, with pictures of them, then I would bet 80% of the kids have no idea who they are. Cricket has been forgotten, it has become more elitist than ever and more importantly it no longer resonates with todays generation of kids. The ECB sold the future of English cricket down the river for a shed load of Sky’s cash, end of. It is welcoming to hear that the new competition will have some FTA access, but it is 12 years too late. Sure, you might well get some new younger converts, but how many will shrug there shoulders wondering what this weird game is?

Then of course, we come to the money aspect and that is where Mr. Empty Suit, feels he is best qualified, after all he was heavily involved in the sale of rights to Sky in the first place. Harrison is banking on the fact that they can get enough spin going around the new competition to get £35 million from either Sky or BT and he may well be right, after all, there is history of bidding wars between the two organisations; however even if they bank the TV money, they are still projected to lose £15million in the first year. Now I might not be an economist, but if went to my boss with an idea that was going to lose £15million in the first year, then I’d get laughed out of the room, yet this is the flagship competition that is going to save English cricket? I simply can’t reconcile both the figures and the risk here to make it a going concern.

Perhaps a more sensible suggestion would be to take that £15million and properly market the Blast, reduce some of the ticket prices to make them family attractive and use some of that money to take some of the games off Sky and onto an FTA platform. Sure the Blast could do with a bit of a revamp, as with any product that is 15 years old (2 or 3 divisions perhaps as a starter for 10), but it simply shouldn’t be ignored that it is only part of English cricket that isn’t in decline.

Surely it’s better that than recklessly gambling the future of county cricket on a hunch? Unfortunately logic has famously never been something that influences the corridors of power at the ECB. All in on red please.


136 thoughts on “Gambling the Family Jewels

  1. Mark Mar 25, 2017 / 5:00 pm

    The game of cricket that I fell in love with in the 1960s is dead. Even since 2005 the game has shrunk away. It’s over. It ain’t coming back. And as those who supported the game of that era die off….. what replaces it?

    In hindsight maybe the invention of One day cricket, Sunday league, an International one day World Cup every four years, and the coming of Packer was a precursor of what was to come. They dumbed down cricket to a one day format. A generation later they dumb it down again to just 20 overs. People’s attention span and free time is disappearing.

    In the sugary, Hollywood film on baseball…… “Field of dreams” the slogan was……..”If you build it they will come.” …………Well, er no. That is not enough. You have to care for it, promote it, and support it. Test cricket has been allowed to wither on the vine. You don’t lock it behind a pay wall and then Jack up prices of tickets while playing on increasingly poor pitches. Test cricket can continue for a small audience. There is a Croquest World Cup. A marbles World Cup. But no one watches, and you don’t sell the tv rights for a fortune. That is Test crickets destiny. Because even if you save it in the short term by subsidising it with the profits from hit and giggle, how many world class test players will exist in 20 years time?

    Faced with their “product” evaporating before their eyes the cricket elites have decided to re-invent the wheel. Their model seems to be an expeirence based on baseball. A game played in one day or evening. Bring the family, have a beer, and then piss off. Thanks for coming, there will be another game in a few days time. It may work, finacially that is, but it ain’t for me. But I’m not the target demographic. They want a new game for a bright new fan base.

    If that is the model, why don’t the counties just do it themselves and cut out the ECB Middle man? They own the grounds, they have the players under contract, and they have the fan base. Sell the rights direct to the broadcasters, and keep the cash.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. dannycricket Mar 25, 2017 / 5:57 pm

    I’d have to say that I’m not against a T20 franchise-syle league in principle, if only because many counties clearly need the money, but it has to be said that the implementation appears to be another disaster by the ECB. It does bear saying that I believe the £15m loss to be after the £23.4m bribes to the counties, without which it would be presumably be profitable. Assuming of course that the ECB’s valuations are accurate and they can successfully negotiate with broadcasters to get full value, which I certainly wouldn’t bet my house on.

    I’d disagree that an English T20 League would be pointless or oversaturation. Although there are maybe around 8 or 9 leagues around the world, each one typically caters for its home audience. For an English viewer, virtually all of the T20 around the world happens when most of them are at work or school. Apart from the second half of the IPL night games or the occasional CPL day game, I don’t think any of the leagues have games during the 6pm-10pm primetime slot for UK TV. Consequently they won’t have seen Dwaine Bravo or Kieron Pollard on their screens for the other 11 months of the year, since only committed cricket fans will have followed the other leagues. Not that Bravo, Pollard, Gayle, or many other T20 stars would necessarily appear in the English league, seeing as how the dates quoted in recent article suggest the tournament would overlap the CPL by roughly two weeks.

    The largest problem I have with the ECB’s proposals are that I can’t envisage the new teams being particularly popular. Teams in these kinds of franchise-style competitions are largely ephemeral in nature. They exist only one month a year, their squads change massively from year to year, sometimes they even move from one city to another. There’s typically no lasting attachment from viewers, the crowd at the grounds, or even the players. In other T20 leagues around the world, they typically have at least a few homegrown players on each side who will be fairly widely known. Looking at the BBL squads, each team has maybe 3-4 Australian internationals or former internationals whose names I recognise. This doesn’t just help with marketing the league to the Australian public, it also creates attachments to the team. When the IPL was on ITV4, I had no real preference who won between Kolkata or Deccan. But if a hero of mine was playing, like Pietersen or Dravid, then I’d support their team.

    Which of course leads back to where it always does with English cricket: The Sky TV deal. Because English cricket will have been behind a paywall for about 15 years by the time this launches, there are no former internationals who will be recognized by the wider public. At the same time, their current players won’t be available because England will be playing their games at the same time as the new competition. They can’t afford not to, especially if they’re incurring a massive ‘loss’ to get the thing started. Ultimately the new teams won’t be able to build momentum and support over time, like the counties are in the T20 Blast, nor rely on their players’ star power to bring new people in season after season.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sean B Mar 25, 2017 / 6:15 pm

      Some really good points here Danny. The oversaturation view is something that I was referring to with regards to those who are already fans of cricket. In my opinion (and I’m not a massive T20 fan), it does seem a bit dull to the same merry band of specialists in a different uniform all the time.

      Completely agree that those who are new to the game won’t be fussed by this and if the ECB truly thinks that franchises are the way to go, then it needs to scrap the blast and bully the new competition through. A half way house just damages both competitions.

      I’m still unsure how they are going to sell the new competition to the paying public. As you quite rightly say, there are few recognisable faces for those that aren’t engaged in the sport and even the ones that are will be playing Test cricket. I don’t see people from Sussex coming up to cheer a London franchise team, so in essence the 3-5 mile rule will still apply, but likely without the county members. FTA may help in the long term if they throw enough cash at it, but I doubt they’d feel the trickle effect for a few years at least.

      Liked by 2 people

    • AB Mar 28, 2017 / 9:19 am

      “Consequently they won’t have seen Dwaine Bravo or Kieron Pollard on their screens for the other 11 months of the year, since only committed cricket fans will have followed the other leagues”

      Indeed – almost to a man, the “new fans” the ECB are trying to attract will never have heard of Bravo or Pollard.

      Unless we’re going to rope John Cena in for a guest appearance, the average “new fan” won’t be able to tell the difference between a “big name” and a journeyman county cricketer- which rather exposes the lie that these so-called big names are magically going to draw in the crowds.


  3. lionel joseph Mar 26, 2017 / 8:57 am

    If this is about money, it shouldn’t be about filling county grounds. It should be about creating a product that can be sold to the indian tv market. That means afternoon fixtures, short format, no concurrent fixtures and big names and somehow, getting some indian players in it. Then fuck Sky, show it on terrestrial and reimburse counties with the loss in revenue from gate receipts.


    • AB Mar 26, 2017 / 5:06 pm

      No tv company wants to buy rights to games played in empty stadiums. At best, you’re going to get 10 cents on the dollar. At worst, they simply won’t be interested for any amount of money.

      The very first thing you have to do it to fill the stadiums.


  4. SimonH Mar 26, 2017 / 9:35 am

    Agreed with Sean’s sentiments, of course. They (especially the ‘leap of faith’ point) are very like what Jason Ratcliffe said recently. Dobell has tweeted that he was “brave” to say what he said. That gives some idea of the pressure they’re under not to express dissenting views.

    I hope you’re well on the way to recovery, Sean. I’m not 100% sure what happened – did you break your ankle?

    Meanwhile, what will get those papers flying off the shelf but an exclusive interview with Tim Bresnan?….

    Maybe it’s just to celebrate the start of the county season…. which starts with the, you know, traditional current raiser of the champion county against MCC in Dubai (!!!). Maybe. Maybe there’s something else going on:


    Well I never…..

    However some insights of what it’s like to work for the ECB peak through the cracks:

    “‘I’d had enough of being dragged to Loughborough Monday to Friday every winter, getting out of bed at 6am in the freezing cold to do a spinning session or karate”. (What’s a spinning session? Does he mean sprinting?)

    “I’d done back-to-back summers/winters for six or seven years. I was getting flogged. If you want the clinical term, I was burnt out”. (That was before he played for England)

    “I didn’t see my eldest, Max, for the first year of his life…. One year in my international career I spent 10 nights in my own bed”.

    “a third elbow operation…. He had almost forgotten what it was like to bowl without discomfort…. ‘Last summer, I was s****ing blood from all the painkillers and anti-inflammatories I was taking.’
    After averaging three cortisones a year in recent times, he is now having post-surgery injections of Ostenil to lubricate the joint”.

    Liked by 2 people

    • SimonH Mar 26, 2017 / 12:20 pm

      Ignore all that stuff from someone who’s really played for them, let’s read all about what lovely chaps the ECB are:

      “by the end of the summer, the ECB hope they are more knowledgable about how to reduce back pain”.

      Like they don’t know now that playing fewer matches might help? It’s like Harrison and FTA – they won’t admit the blatantly obvious reason so come up with all this other stuff. (By the way, it’s absolutely wretched that rugby are dropping one of the rest weekends in the 6N. Perhaps they’ll need some expensive research on why more of their players are getting injured?).

      ” a good result is helping an affected player to play a few more days of cricket a year free from injury. That might not sound like much. But if it is the difference between Wood making the Champions Trophy final or not this summer, and he can help England to their first ever victory in a 50-over world event, all Loughborough’s investment in sports science will seem vindicated”.

      From this and other statements, it doesn’t seem there’s much intention to share this wonder technology (if so it proves) with other teams -especially those teams who couldn’t possibly afford this because of the 2014 revenue-grab. No doubt if Rabada, Boult and Mustfizar are out injured that would help England’s chances.

      Very disappointed in Tim Wigmore for not being more questioning about this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Mar 26, 2017 / 12:46 pm

        You really must get with the program Simon! Don’t you realise that it’s all about endless 20/20 now? The bowlers will only have to bowl 4 overs a day. An entire August where a bowler might bowl just 8 overs a week.

        And Harrison is going to bring in 4 day test matches, so that’s another reduction in the bowlers work load. There is no way seam bowlers will be able to bowl 100 overs a day, so more spin bowlers will be needed to take the strain. The life of the fast bowler will become a life of luxury. Expect to see 40 year old fast bowlers as the norm in 10years time. 😉


      • SimonH Mar 26, 2017 / 1:05 pm

        That brave new world isn’t quite with us yet, Mark! The Harrison programme is for post-2019 when the current deals run out.

        England play 23 Tests between July 2017 and August 2018. Why might some bowlers get injured? It’s a mystery! Send for those Loughborough boffins!

        Liked by 1 person

    • man in a barrel Mar 26, 2017 / 7:05 pm

      Think of the bowlers. They get flogged around the park so that crowds can applaud positive cricket but at massive personal cost. Bresnan will be in pain for the rest of his life.


      • LordCanisLupus Mar 27, 2017 / 6:53 am

        I’ll listen to players moaning about heavy workloads when they offer to give up money for fewer games. The sport cannot sustain the wages they pay at nearly all levels. They want sport to be a business, run it like one.


      • SimonH Mar 27, 2017 / 10:19 am

        LCL, I understand what you’re saying but there are some powerful forces on the other side:

        Prospective players are immersed in an ECB culture before selection (sometimes for years – one of the points Bresnan revealed). The process seems to me not far removed from a type of brainwashing (yeah, tinfoil hat, blah blah). They have it drummed into them with not dissenting voices allowed that you want to play every game and “picking and choosing” your games is tantamount to treason. They are discouraged from thinking the schedule is anything they might have any say in. To them, it’s a given, as controllable as the weather. They’ve had some examples of what happens to players who question this formula. Throw in the hubris and greed of young men and it’s an extremely difficult mold to break.

        I’m not massively sympathetic to Bresnan in a number of ways. He seemed to internalise completely the Flower-Saker method and was a major beneficiary as a result (it’s startling how many bad selections by England under Flower feature him being picked when he shouldn’t have been – Perth was even worse than Ahmedabad in my book). I’ve seldom seen two cricketers loathe each other as much as he and Pietersen did in a BBL match I watched on C5. Yes, I’m enormously frustrated with him for seemingly not being able to put two (his injuries) and two (the ECB’s behaviour) together. But when it comes to putting blame on a multi-million pound organisation or an isolated individual I know who I’d look at first….

        By the way, it’s worth remembering about what Bresnan said of cortisone that the Guardian revealed recently that cortisone is regarded as a PED in cycling.


      • Mark Mar 27, 2017 / 11:01 am

        Brainwashing of the players is a good way to describe it. That is why the KP sacking was far more than just “removing a bad egg.” It was stamping out independent thought. Thinking for yourself is not encouraged. Group think rules. They even created a dosier to help build the evidence for removal. How sick is that?

        Then you put the high priest of this philosophy into monitoring the young players to make sure they have the right sort of mindset. Those that do are fast tracked up the system. Mindset is seen as more important than skill or talent. Of course it is important, but talent is discarded if it does not toe the line.

        Even the media bought into to this mind control. Repeating the establishmemt line slavishly, and denouncing, like a 16th century Witch burner any heretics.

        The players, like the county chairman have become just slaves to their masters. All bow down to the elite group think at the ECB. To parapharase Monty Python and the …..Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition sketch……… “Fear, and Surprise are our two weapons” Or in the case of The ECB…….”Fear & centralisation our are two weapons.”


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Mar 28, 2017 / 8:12 am

        I too am not one of Bresnan’s biggest fans as in his latter test performances, as SimonH points out, he was a joke selection and he reminded me of Ian Austin in his less slim days at Lancashire let alone bowling about Austin’s or latter day Botham’s pace.

        Where I do have sympathy though is with a schedule that does nothing but wreck the effectiveness of quick bowlers. How the blazes can they be expected to maintain full effectiveness when they are asked to play nigh on non-stop for months on end. We saw a marked decline in the performances of England players as the Indian series went on as the effects of being on the go since the start of July finally rip that team apart. We saw similar from Pakistan as their bowling looked ever more listless as the Australian series went on and I’d argue we’ve seen a decline in performance from some of India’s players as a packed schedule since October (13 tests as well as some short form cricket) take it’s toll. The Aussies too had suffered a bit from being on the go for a long while. It isn’t going to change anytime soon. Players will take their money but suffer the consequences for the rest of their life. Agree with MIAB here too.


        • man in a barrel Mar 30, 2017 / 8:05 pm

          It would be almost OK if these guys got financial advice which said that, if your major leg joints are buggered by the age of 35, then you need a pension fund of more than £750k if you want to live without packing shelves at B and Q. And that will get you a fairly basic lifestyle.


    • Sean B Mar 27, 2017 / 4:56 pm

      Thanks Simon, hadn’t seen Radcliffe’s comments when I wrote the piece.

      Torn ankle ligaments and fractured wrist, getting better, slowly!


  5. SimonH Mar 26, 2017 / 10:38 am

    India 6 wickets down and still 80 behind. Pitch not getting any easier. Interesting.


    • d'Arthez Mar 26, 2017 / 10:43 am

      Yeah, getting really interesting now. India may even struggle to get to 300 (Australia’s score), and then they really have to play catch up in the next innings. Still a lot of cricket left in the next couple of days (hard to see this match going to Day 5)


    • Mark Mar 26, 2017 / 11:41 am

      Wow, this is more like the old Vic Marks I used to respect.

      “Forget the arguments or a measured analysis of the pros and cons. They (the counties) desperately need the money and must snatch at any straw.”

      “The minds of the chief executives and chairmen will have been concentrated by this sentence in the proposals for the new T20 competition: “Each first-class county, which has signed the media deed, would receive a guaranteed minimum annual sum of £1.3 million.” So here – let’s be polite – is the inducement for the counties to back the ECB.”

      “Hang the arguments; give us the money” is not the best backdrop for a measured debate. In 2020 several clubs will, in effect, be paid not to host cricket matches, a new twist akin to farmers receiving their set‑aside payments.”

      “It is all about marketing rather than delivering a balanced domestic schedule”

      “In 2020 in England, after a new television deal, the plan is to guarantee that 10 of the T20 games will be shown on free-to- air TV, which is an interesting development. More than a decade ago, when cricket was lost to terrestrial audiences, there were assurances from the ECB that viewing patterns were changing so rapidly that this would not affect the accessibility of the game to the public. Now comes the tacit admission that this was not the case, which has been demonstrated by the recent impact of rugby union and racing on free‑to‑air channels. There are no “floating” viewers among the subscribers.”

      It’s extraordinary that it’s almost word perfect to what has been written here for the last few years.

      Can I just say that I have total contempt for the county chairman. What a bunch of quislings, and incompetents. They have no one to blame but themselves. They keep electing the people who run the ECB, and now they are so weak they will take money as a bribe to do what they don’t want to do. They have failed to find any agreement themselves which could have meant that they were calling the shots. They could have bypassed the ECB, and set up a tournament themselves and distributed the tv money for themselves.

      Useless bunch, and now in exchange for for six pieces of silver they have sold out their souls. In a few years time 1 million may come to be seen as chump change for what they could have created for themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

      • oreston Mar 26, 2017 / 6:44 pm

        The counties have allowed the ECB to morph into an out-of-control juggernaut that will destroy them all in the next few years if they’re not careful. Their relationship with the so-called governing body is starting to resemble Stockholm Syndrome.

        If the destruction of the existing county structure, erosion of the First Class game and progressive centralisation don’t constitute a deliberate policy then at the very least you could be forgiven forgiven for thinking they do.

        Time to form a Rebel Alliance and destroy the Death Star, but who is there to lead such a movement?

        Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol Mar 26, 2017 / 8:39 pm

      Needless to say, someone we used to know could *never* have written this article.

      People BTL would have said much the same as they have today, and a certain someone would have popped up to tell them they were wrong, and Tom Harrison was a “good man”, and Giles’s genius for moneymaking had led directly to prolonged England success.

      Never mind thinking the Guardian should be sectioned for getting rid of him – they should be embarrassed he lasted as long as he did.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. northernlight71 Mar 26, 2017 / 9:06 pm

    They’re not gambling anything. That analogy assumes they have something to lose. But none of these people care if cricket is a shadow of its former self in ten years. They will still have nice holidays, big cars, stacks of cash and probably other organisations to play with. They don’t care.
    Short term profit and gain. That’s all it’s become now. That’s all most things are now. That’s why the world the rest of us live in is so…..well, without wishing to be too negative…. so crap!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Mar 26, 2017 / 9:53 pm

      Yup. They’re just looting the carcass now. Picking the meat off the bones before it just collapses into the ground.

      As you say, they will be long gone in 10 years time, and on to the next target (opportunity)

      The crapification of modern life.


    • Mark Mar 27, 2017 / 11:14 am

      That is a shocking legal judgement.

      The judge says he will not send the husband to prison because the victim (his wife) was not a “vulnerable” person. Where does it say in the law that assault will only carry a prison sentence if the victim is vulnerable? If you hit someone over the head with a bat or force them to swallow bleach that is GBH or at least assault.

      If I or anyone else hit the judge over the head with a cricket bat we would go to jail.

      Leicester seem to be back peddling on this. They claim they no nothing about a promise of a contract.


    • northernlight71 Mar 27, 2017 / 12:50 pm

      “It is a very fine line between imprisonment and a suspended sentence” said the judge.

      Well, not really. One involves going to prison and one, er, doesn’t. That’s quite a big difference isn’t it? I’d have thought you’d need more than “a fine line” to decide how grave a crime was when deciding between the two . . .


  7. Mark Mar 27, 2017 / 11:54 am

    Too funny!!

    Pakistani fast bowler Mohammad Amir has signed for Essex.

    What will captain Cook make of this? After some of the things said about him coming back to test cricket last year he will now be sitting in the same dressing room.

    Liked by 2 people

    • oreston Mar 27, 2017 / 2:01 pm

      Could be interesting if the two of them are paired up in the nets. Still, I’m sure Alastair has the technique to cope…


  8. SimonH Mar 27, 2017 / 1:44 pm

    Tons on Twitter:


      • Mark Mar 27, 2017 / 5:28 pm

        The cricketer magazine obsesses about KP. It’s almost as if they-are one issue wonders. (Snark)


    • Mark Mar 27, 2017 / 2:53 pm

      Have they all started taking a truth drug or something?

      Where the frig have these people been for the last few years? They should have been reading this wonderful publication.


    • LordCanisLupus Mar 27, 2017 / 3:47 pm

      This blog been ahead of the curve on Empty Suit? You’d have to tell me if we see this with aplomb or not.


      • oreston Mar 27, 2017 / 3:57 pm

        Oh indubitably, old boy, indubitably!


  9. AB Mar 27, 2017 / 4:40 pm

    Personally I think England Test cricket (both home and away), all England games in both world cups, and one game of English domestic T20 a week should be shown on FTA tv, even if it means giving it away free for the next 5 years. That would be enough to re-inspire a generation of fans.

    There is still plenty left that can be exclusive to sky.


    • Mark Mar 27, 2017 / 5:26 pm

      Interesting idea. Never going to happen.

      Although I do remember when The Premiership started to get really big money some people suggested they should reduce ticket prices at the grounds. They have never had to do that because demand has been high. I think you could make a case for low priced tickets or even free tickets at many test venues around the world as there is hardly anyone ever there.

      You would think the broadcasters would like the idea of full stadiums to create a good backdrop and atmosphere.


    • oreston Mar 27, 2017 / 5:48 pm

      Since we’re clearly engaging in (ahem) “blue-sky thinking” I feel bound to say that this still wouldn’t help the poor old County Championship – which really should be promoted as the premier competition on the domestic landscape.
      For FTA coverage, how about all home Tests, highlights packages for the away series (let’s throw Sky a bone) some T20 games and a few 1st Division CC matches? Maybe not even complete CC games (initially at least) but split coverage of (say) two or three matches being played at the same time in the closing stages of the title chase? I’m serious, the future of Test cricket depends on the domestic First Class game, not on T20. I suppose there could be red button options to follow a match uninterrupted and internet streaming as well.

      If T20 is to be on FTA, which completion? The Blast or the City Franchise? I know what the answer will be, but it’s going to be a ridiculous situation to have two tournaments in the first place.


      • AB Mar 27, 2017 / 7:19 pm

        The blast, obviously. The other competition can go fuck itself.

        If any competition is in need of repackaging and restructuring, its the county championship.

        Leave the blast alone, its excellent as it is (other than it could do with a few more teams)


        • LordCanisLupus Mar 27, 2017 / 7:35 pm

          ‘Our tournaments are not as relevant as they should be and we have to change our thinking on that in order to be relevant to a new generation. We need to create big box-office occasions and grow something that has huge interest.

          ‘Counties have been incredibly successful having an audience that is obsessive about the game but our county brands are not cutting through so this is all about creating brands that are relevant to our target audience of families and children. We have to connect to their very busy world.

          Brands. Target Audience. Connect. Relevant. And my favourite “Big Box Office Occasions”.

          He’s a marketing consultant. And not a very good one.

          Liked by 2 people

      • AB Mar 28, 2017 / 9:22 am

        We’re going to connect to their very busy world by shutting down their local teams and expecting people who have never really had an interest in cricket before to drive 50 miles through rush-hour traffic to sit in a half-empty stadium drinking £5 cups of coffee on a cold grey Tuesday night instead.

        I’m totally confident this will work.


    • SimonH Mar 27, 2017 / 5:46 pm

      Empty suit now becomes, if not Mystic Meg, Transcendental Tom!

      He can foresee the future, can he?

      Who said in 2015, “”Sky have been a great partner for English cricket… Is there a role for terrestrial television post the current deal with Sky. Terrestrial is becoming, frankly, less relevant every single year in the context of how people consume media. I don’t think we solve all our participation concerns by terrestrial television.”?


      • Sean B Mar 27, 2017 / 5:51 pm

        My favourite part was when he talks about the close collaboration with counties. Erm no, you simply bribed a set of increasingly desperate Chairmen to push through the changes.

        Future proofing my arse…

        Liked by 1 person

    • oreston Mar 27, 2017 / 5:59 pm

      So sidelining county-based cricket with a city-based franchise, which is the only thing they want this mythical new army of “consumers” to go to see or watch on FTA, is the strategy for future proofing it? Yeah, that makes perfect sense…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sean B Mar 27, 2017 / 6:04 pm

        I’d like to know who these 15,000 people were that were consulted about this. I wasn’t one of them, anyone else on here consulted?


    • LordCanisLupus Mar 27, 2017 / 7:16 pm

      Before I read this, let me see if he mentions more paychecks for his IMG players personally now.

      I’ll get back to you after I’ve read it.


      • LordCanisLupus Mar 27, 2017 / 7:29 pm

        Oh shocker. It didn’t.

        I have one query. What are these other non-cricket venues other than Wembley or the Olympic Stadium (both, I would imagine the home of a putative London team) are we talking about?

        More fans? I like this one. Surrey pretty much sells out all its games – not all of them, but most of the big ones. These tickets are secured by your City Slickers or lads out for a pint and a few hours cricket. Are these people going to be banned so the hordes of wives and kids descend on The Oval? Will Lord’s, a private club ground, tell its MCC members that they won’t be able to frequent areas of the ground they are used to? These people are also the masters at securing tickets for events. I look forward to ECB partnering with TicketBastard and seeing vast swathes of tickets on their “resale” market which looks like touting to me but not when they do it.

        Vaughan’s “analysis” which is out of his Shiny Toy playbook (the CPL is ahead of the Blast, really?) is that it will be new and therefore really really good. It will exclude loads of county pros, so alls good, because he loves the up and comers and the almost test players, not the jobbing pro. It “will have to work” he says. Wow. Then he says test series other than the Ashes don’t have “context” but this travelling minstrel show will (I mean, do you remember who the IPL, CPL, PSL, Ram Slam, and Big Bash reigning champs are?). Kids are going to want to play it because they’ve seen, who, precisely?

        He’s a clown, and the circus is growing and growing.

        Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Mar 27, 2017 / 7:54 pm

      “Twenty20 is short and sharp. The actual game is secondary to the entertainment and fan experience.”

      FML. These guys are actually anti-cricket. Not pro.


      • northernlight71 Mar 27, 2017 / 8:30 pm

        Cricket is merely the latest vehicle from which they expect to extract money. When it’s dead, they will move on. None of them care about the actual game. Heck, that’s been obvious to us lot for a long time now.
        The question is, how do people like Shiny Toy, Nasser, Aggers et al look at themselves in the morning and not think “what and who on earth am I associating myself with?”

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Mar 27, 2017 / 8:36 pm

          I mean. The absolute state of this…

          “The ECB will put a huge amount of marketing into the new league because they own it. It cannot fail, there is too much riding on it and they know that. It will also be elite. With three overseas players in each 15 man squad that only leaves 96 slots for English cricketers. There are currently more than 300 professionals in England. Only the best will get a gig. That should drive up standards.”

          To think. He was mentioned as an England team supremo. I despair.


      • Mark Mar 27, 2017 / 9:11 pm

        I am genuinely surprised Harrison hasn’t just imported baseball lock stock and barrel from the US. It will make money, and that’s all they really care about.


        • Sean B Mar 27, 2017 / 9:18 pm

          Yeah but the new competition has ‘values’. That’s the latest buzzword in corporate rubbish, you must buy into our values.

          We’re doomed…


          • LordCanisLupus Mar 27, 2017 / 9:42 pm

            Counties have been incredibly successful having an audience that is obsessive about the game but our county brands are not cutting through so this is all about creating brands that are relevant to our target audience of families and children. We have to connect to their very busy world,

            The hits keep on coming from the Empty Suit. If you like county cricket you are “obsessive” (note, not passionate, which would be positive, but “obsessive” as in serial killers, stalkers etc.) and, of course, if you like that you aren’t per se, part of a very busy world, obviously don’t have children, and your Missus thinks you are a complete loon for loving the game.

            These guys are just beautiful.

            Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Mar 27, 2017 / 9:51 pm

        Shinny toy was talking about “mums bloggers” and that they had been getting involved in cricket.

        I think he might have been talking about mumsnet. Anyway, Shinny had never heard of mums bloggers before, but thought it sounded a good avenue to pursue.

        I’m not making this shit up.


      • AB Mar 28, 2017 / 9:28 am

        “The actual game is secondary to the entertainment and fan experience”

        Can you imagine an MLB executive saying that? That is the exact kind of attitude that kills a competition stone dead. Its like a McDonalds PR saying “oh our food is borderline inedible, but the packaging is killer, and that’s what counts”.

        Does he really think people come to the ground for the cheerleaders with blue legs, 5 second clips of music, and £5.50 pints of warm beer in plastic cups?

        if its not about the game, then its not about anything at all. I don’t mind marketing people trying to promote their product, but the guy is a fucking moron. How is he even employed?


        • LordCanisLupus Mar 28, 2017 / 5:41 pm

          It’s gobsmacking in its stupidity. It also treats the youth of today (god I sound old) like idiots. The way you grow the game, if this is what is intended, is to create fans. Loyal fans. People who care. By saying the actual game is secondary, you deny that.

          And he’s supposed to be the brains of the outfit?


  10. SimonH Mar 27, 2017 / 6:33 pm


    “Harrison and Graves need 31 of the 41 available votes to proceed and indications are that they could well receive all 41. Even dissenting counties have accepted the inevitable now”.

    Beware of decisions made by overwhelming majorities.

    “Harrison, who wheeled out England one-day captain Eoin Morgan on Monday to address the counties”.



  11. Mark Mar 27, 2017 / 9:00 pm

    Switch on 5 live and listen to the cricket bit that strarted at 9pm. Get your IPlayer out and listen to Shinny toy be er, well……shinny toy on the new 20/20. It’s really shinny!

    Is he on commission?

    It’s like garlic bread, it’s the future I’m telling you!

    Tufnell supports it but not quite so convinced ……”They’re going to have to do more than a bouncy castle Mike!”


    • LordCanisLupus Mar 27, 2017 / 9:11 pm

      From the Telegraph…

      “Telegraph Sport can reveal details of the meeting included marketing experts using the comparison of BMW cars with cricket to show counties how the sport can sell its tournaments to different audiences. County chairmen were also shown a video designed to shock them into realising how cricket has failed to attract new audiences. School children were shown pictures of England cricketers. One thought Strauss was a football manager, another that Alastair Cook worked in Waitrose (who until recently were the team sponsor).”

      It’s Swiss Toni meets Del Boy. You can imagine the real marketing experts crying into their hourly fees…

      Oh. It gets better. Lets see who Futurebrand are at a later date, but this is not an auspicious start.

      “Futurebrand told the chairmen how they can differentiate between their competition with fears that the new Twenty20 will swallow the existing Natwest Blast and county championship.

      The analogy with BMW was put forward. BMW was traditionally a car bought by men. To change this BMW bought Mini to appeal to female drivers and then Rolls Royce to buy into the luxury market. It is the same car company using different brands to widen its reach. The message was cricket can market its different tournaments to separate audiences to grow its support base.”

      Not quite Ron Noades and a new pools competition he had a brainwave for in the 1980s. He marketed it as “so simple, even women could do it.” It’s not far off. Who knew Minis were for women and Beamers for men?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Mar 27, 2017 / 9:18 pm

        I’m rolling with tears coming down my face. Too funny!

        I remember doing a joke about a cardboard cut out of Cook in Waitrose at the Cheese Isle about 3 years ago, and now schoolchildren think he works there for real!

        These people pushing for cricket to become visible are the biggest hypocrites going. They have laughed us out for 10 years. Now they are going about doing presentations to county chairmen.

        I bet they don’t tell the same counties that they got it so wrong.


        • LordCanisLupus Mar 27, 2017 / 9:23 pm

          Look at these creatures. I am not a violent man, but I might have troubles with the legal beagles having seen George Gotti’s picture – and then Oliver Michell next to it.

          Oh. Also, Futurebrand UK runs a current accumulated loss of just under £6m on £10m turnover year on year. They made a profit last year.

          Just wondering where the link is between them and Empty Suit.


      • Mark Mar 27, 2017 / 9:34 pm

        As fast as the ECB extract money from us they fritter it away on a whole cast of charlatans and snake oil salesman.

        That is quite an achievmemt to make a loss of £6 million on £10 million turnover. It’s not as if they have to buy in a whole lot of raw material like Platinum or gold.

        Their expenses must be a thing of beauty!


        • LordCanisLupus Mar 27, 2017 / 9:37 pm

          To be clear, they made a £1m profit last year, but their accumulated losses in the balance sheet are near £6m, so their equity holders are not exactly seeing much return for their buck at present.


      • Mark Mar 27, 2017 / 9:44 pm

        Well as long as there are geniuses around like the ECB they will recoup their losses pretty quickly. They can move on to the FA next. There is no shortage of so called governing bodies and managers who need to employ these people to tell them what to do.


  12. Mark Mar 27, 2017 / 9:23 pm

    That ping pong player is on the BBC 5 live again pushing his 10,000 hour practice book. He’s got Robbies Savage and Fred Flintoff with him. Who says the BBC is not dumbing down?


    • LordCanisLupus Mar 27, 2017 / 9:32 pm

      They pimp that podcast, Freddie and Savage, relentlessly on Twitter. The only way this could be worse, and it’s a Marianas Trench low bar, is for Ping Pong to be replaced by Plagiarist.

      Needless to say, I’d rather download malware than that however long ear infection.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mark Mar 27, 2017 / 9:40 pm

        Funny you should bring up the plagarist. I was thinking about him as I listened to ping pong man. It’s the same theory based cobblers dressed up to sound academic.


  13. SimonH Mar 27, 2017 / 9:44 pm

    Newman’s not feeling the love – this could get bloody.


    • LordCanisLupus Mar 27, 2017 / 9:47 pm

      Sometimes our enemy’s enemy is our friend. Aggers wasn’t that keen either.


      • LordCanisLupus Mar 27, 2017 / 9:52 pm

        Note Paul used the word “passionately”. Maybe he should have used “obsessively”. After all, that’s the ECB’s insult for this year.


      • Mark Mar 27, 2017 / 10:00 pm

        Aggers has never been on board with 20/20.

        I remember when he went out to the Caribbean for the Stanford debacle, and he spent the whole time moaning about how this would divide county dressing rooms between a small group of superstars earning millions, and county trundlers earning a pittance. Welcome to the Neo liberal world Aggers.

        I think it was one of the reasons so many took against KP. He was one of the new lucky people who was going to cash in, and the county trundler was going to be out in the cold.


      • SimonH Mar 27, 2017 / 10:48 pm

        “Imagine if we could get MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli to come here in high summer? That would bring crowds in”.

        1) Dhoni will be 39 when the tournament starts.
        2) Kohli is currently banned under BCCI rules – and the ECB’s man in Dubai has just massively pissed off the BCCI.
        3) As Newman says, wouldn’t Indian stars prefer the CPL (which has considerable Indian cash invested in it) to this? Southampton or Barbados….. that’s a tough one!
        4) I wonder what the name recognition for Kohli or Dhoni is among English 12-year olds?

        Either they’ll just spout any old shit to sell this – or it’s a glimpse (also hinted at in some of Harrison’s statements) that flogging the TV rights for this to India is, beneath the headlines about participation, a large part of what it’s all about.

        Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol Mar 28, 2017 / 5:18 am

        I know I’ve mentioned this before. But this is why, in spite of his egregious personal vendettas and outbursts of petulance, Newman didn’t make my top three. He has more innate scepticism in his finger-end than Smith, Hughes and Selvey have between them.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. amit garg Mar 28, 2017 / 6:08 am

    I know this thread is following a different thought but India beat Australia in a test series after a tough fight. Very Happy. 🙂


  15. d'Arthez Mar 28, 2017 / 6:32 am

    And another tour ends, with Duminy failing to get to 50 even once. Shoe in to make it to England.

    The only question is will rain save South Africa on the final day or not.


  16. Fred Boycott Mar 28, 2017 / 7:32 am

    I wouldn’t trust the ECB to run a bath.
    This is no different to chasing the Stanford dollars.
    Standby for the SKY emblazoned helicopter landing at Lords.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. pktroll (@pktroll) Mar 28, 2017 / 8:05 am

    More than anything, and it pains me to say it is that I am suffering from overkill on all cricketing fronts. A couple of years ago, I would have given everything to get up to watch an hour or two’s play from the just concluded India v Australia series. This year, I haven’t watched more than a few hours live.

    I like t20 compared to some on here, I run a team that plays midweek cricket in the summer and have played it for years myself. However, the many different games of international and franchise cricket all around the world have started to get to me and I’m no longer one for watching cricket just because it happens to be on the box. I am struggling to see how the new competition will wet the senses of this new generation of fans. I am struggling to see how existing fans will make more of an effort to watch this new competition ahead of the blast. More than anything, the blast is apparently going to continue, but where is the advertising/sponsorship going to continue to provide funds to help it run? Answers on a postcard please……….

    Liked by 1 person

    • SimonH Mar 28, 2017 / 9:35 am

      “I like t20 compared to some on here”.

      I think there’s considerable diversity of views about T20 on here, PK. Opposition to this idea shouldn’t be mistaken to blanket opposition to all T20 (like support for some FTA coverage shouldn’t be translated into opposition to any pay-per-view coverage).

      For myself, I think a divisional revamp of the NWB might have worked or a complete switch to a regional T20 might work if that’s what they truly believe in might work. It’s this model of pseudo-compromise that I’m objecting to. They’ve left the NWB in place for the moment to mollify certain counties but it’s blatantly doomed in the long-term (not that long a term really).


      • AB Mar 28, 2017 / 9:47 am

        Personally I like the fact that any team could win the blast any year, even if they were terrible the year before. It kind of has the romance of the FA cup about it like that.

        Controversially, the changes I would make would be:

        1) add more teams – bring professional cricket for the 1st time to places like Plymouth, Cambridge, Norwich, Glasgow, Belfast, etc. I might have 4 groups of 6 teams (playing 10 games) followed by playoffs.

        2) minor changes to the schedule. 6 games on a Friday night, but I’d also add ONE Thursday night game per week (for the benefit of tv audiences) and have 3 Sunday afternoon games, as its easier to take kids to. 10 weeks from mid May to the end of July

        3) Let sky pick 3 games (Thursday, Friday and Sunday) they want to show – everything else is given away free to whatever FTA tv channel wants it.

        4) I’d split finals day over a weekend – 3 games in a row is too much of a slog for either live spectators or tv audiences.


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Mar 28, 2017 / 10:34 am

        I didn’t mean to suggest that all on here hated it at all, just that plenty seem not to be particularly interested in attending, blast or no blast. I’m with AB in thinking that some minor adjustments to the Blast could have been beneficial and that there was nothing much wrong with crowds as they were. I don’t see that they are going to get hordes of new fans with these franchises and that letting the blast run concurrently with the new competition could actually damage counties.


        • LordCanisLupus Mar 28, 2017 / 5:39 pm

          I think the format has been done to death. Games have little meaning, which I find laughable when that is the accusation against test cricket, which has fewer games than any other format. You get to the point that who really cares who wins? Surrey are my team, I want them to win the Championship. That’s the pinnacle. That’s the best team in the country. No doubt. Even though Northants won the T20, and I know how much it meant to them, no-one views them as a titan of the game. Now we will have eight made up teams, representing cities not the regions they play in, and we are supposed to care, in a format that often resembles bowler-fodder.

          I don’t care who wins the IPL, CPL, PSL, Ram Slam, Big Bash, BPL or whatever. The players are inter-changeable. It’s a travelling circus, where getting paid trumps winning. That can’t be in the best interests of the game.

          But I know. I’m not the target. I also understand those who love it more than me. It seems sad the game wants to rely on it for its future when test cricket is just such a great format (in my eyes, and, it seems, many of the players).


      • Benny Mar 28, 2017 / 4:43 pm

        Brilliant AB. If we want to grow the audience, take cricket to places that don’t have it. So bleeding obvious even the clueless ECB should have thought of it. Knowing that there is a limit to how far people will travel to watch, it’s going to pull in people who would like to attend but won’t currently.

        Mention of Cambridge makes me think there’s a long cricket tradition in the big universities and plenty of interest as well as a number of residents who could find the odd couple of hours.

        Bristol, Glasgow – huge cachment areas.


        • LordCanisLupus Mar 28, 2017 / 5:28 pm

          Constrained by venues. Always constrained by venues. Football clubs aren’t going to be interested in July or August. That’s the start of their season and they aren’t going to want to mess up their precious playing surfaces. Why would West Ham give up the Olympic Stadium for this?


    • AB Mar 28, 2017 / 9:37 am

      I love playing T20 (its not such a slog fest at amateur level), but the only T20s I watch are the Blast, and the occasional England international. I also like 30/40/50 over games, and I NEVER watch any ODIs or domestic 50 over cricket – I just find them dull.

      But like most cricket fans I suspect, I’d rather watch a couple of hours of test cricket any day. This month I’ve been watching an hour of NZ-SA before bed every night and then Ind-Aus on weekend mornings.


    • SimonH Mar 28, 2017 / 11:55 am

      Who said in 2015:

      “it would be nice to have some cricket on terrestrial television but the problem we have got is terrestrial television does not want cricket… if you have terrestrial broadcasters that don’t want cricket then what can you do?”?


  18. SimonH Mar 28, 2017 / 9:05 am

    Vic Marks using some arguments I seem to have been reading on that horrible social media that he used to rail against:

    Couple of new snippets:

    “there is the quiet expectation even among some of those plotting the brave new world that the Blast will fade away and more upheavals to the domestic structure will be required early in the next decade”.

    “The skeleton fixture list for 2020 has seven Championship rounds before the end of May and five rounds from 31 August”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol Mar 28, 2017 / 9:26 am

      I think there was literally one comment in support of the new tournament below Ali Martin’s article, and wctt and NorthernLight were putting me in mind of Dr. Peter Venkman’s apocalyptic warning about dogs and cats living together…

      Can’t wait to see what happens when #39 realises how small a minority his editorial stance represents.


      • Mark Mar 28, 2017 / 9:50 am

        No surprise to read Alec Swanns tweet debate with Newman. He’s fully on board with this shit sandwich. 39 and his chums at the Cricketer are The Pravda of the ECB.


      • SimonH Mar 28, 2017 / 10:05 am

        #39 has woken up on Twitter.

        It’s a sight to behold….


      • AB Mar 28, 2017 / 10:31 am

        Most commenters are somewhere between mostly right and mostly wrong. Simon Hughes is an exception. He’s 100% wrong on EVERYTHING. I’ve just read his tweets – you name it, he’s wrong about it. A sight to behold, indeed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol Mar 28, 2017 / 11:39 am

        Ah yes. I’d forgotten what his missable podcast was called.

        And still citing that poll that put the Premier League in sixth place among most recognised sporting events.

        Also blind faith in the ECB’s market research, over a county fan’s “hunches”.

        The man’s a genius.


      • SimonH Mar 28, 2017 / 3:41 pm

        #39 is quite useful in one sense that he makes explicit what the likes of Harrison prefer to leave as an implication (kind of Stephen Byers to Harrison’s Tony Blair if I’m allowed a small political aside):

        I’ve got used to watching Tests in other parts of the world at times of the year when they’ve never had them before. Sometimes they get away with it but more often the result is an abandonment or a terrible pitch. The T20 is going to get the prime time sooner or later.


      • LordCanisLupus Mar 28, 2017 / 5:42 pm

        There were still digs showing that some places wctt would rather not go are on his reading list.


    • Mark Mar 28, 2017 / 9:42 am

      Oh yes, Vic is right…… this won’t be the end of it. The ECB high command are playing eleven dimensional chess. The county chairman are just playing checkers. They have signed their own death warrants. Well, those counties that will not be part of the new world order have. In a few years time they will be marginalised even further. And their power will be gone. So will their 1.3 million bribe.

      It’s almost as if this whole plan is designed to do what the elite have wanted to do for years. Destroy a substantial amount of counties for good. And these morons are going to vote for it.

      7 county matches before the end of May, and 5 after August 31? FFS it’s almost as if they hate cricket!

      One wonders how many of these ECB insiders are also getting jobs with property developers ready to buy up these prime real estate venues in the middle of major cities when they finally kill of cricket for good?


    • AB Mar 28, 2017 / 9:53 am

      The hope of the ECB is that the blast will fade rapidly and can safely be dispensed with just a few years later.

      That will leave the 10 unwanted counties with no T20 and no real viable source of income. Without the support of the ECB (which will not be forthcoming) they will swiftly go to the wall and the grounds sold to the developers. Millions of people will be left with no professional cricket within 50 miles of their home.

      By 2025, there will only be the city franchises and the big counties remaining, and they will be ordered to merge under the new city franchise banner as a rebranding exercise. As far as the ECB is concerned, job done.

      I hope that the blast in 2020 gets the biggest crowds in its history, whilst the city franchises prove a complete flop. I don’t think this is entirely out of the question.

      Liked by 2 people

      • SimonH Mar 28, 2017 / 12:25 pm

        Could we crowdfund (or whatever the term is) a prize for the first person to find a connection between the ECB and property developers?


  19. Mark Mar 28, 2017 / 10:02 am

    Shinny toy on 5 live last night was trying to deal with the vexed question of who is going to support these new franchises? For example……. would Lancs supporters travel over to Leeds to support a new venture? Or would Yorkies travel over to Manchester to support a venture?

    Shinny was indignant of this minor detail……… “they won’t be called Lancashire and Yorkshire. They might be called the red rose or the White rose..” ………What the fuck is the difference?

    Then Mark Chapman asked what would happen if Joe Root signed for the Lancs franchise? What effect would that have on his Yorkie fans? ……….According to Shinny, this is not a problem because it won’t happen……. because the organisers are too clever to allow this. (Shinny has a lot of faith in these organisers)

    So the process by which these players are chosen and allocated is going to be a dog’s breakfast. To paraphrase the McCarty hearings ……” Are you now, or have you ever been a member of Yorkshire county cricket club?”

    Liked by 1 person

  20. SimonH Mar 28, 2017 / 10:50 am

    Anyone remember “holding all the trophies”?


  21. Benny Mar 28, 2017 / 11:29 am

    I popped in briefly to live MCC v Middlesex. Angus Fraser saying you have to wonder what T20 is there for. His suggestion was – money. He didn’t seem very enthused about it, more resigned.


  22. SimonH Mar 28, 2017 / 11:46 am

    There’s a damning indictment of the ECB-Flower-Strauss-Harrison model buried in here:

    Will he make it explicit? Or will he prefer to wander-off into a hymn to public school education while showing-off that he hobnobs with elite rugby types? You’ll never guess….

    The point is of course that both pathways (apologies for that jargon) should be open to all. Anyone know anything about that book he references at the end? That one that he’s read and definitely not just read the Wikipedia summary? More snake-oil?

    By the way, there’s a strange absence of Roger Federer in this one who definitely doesn’t fit into his thesis.


      • Mark Mar 28, 2017 / 12:22 pm

        Easy to speculate with other people’s money.


    • Mark Mar 28, 2017 / 12:16 pm

      He should talk to the ping pong man. According to his crack pot theories we can all be Roger Federer if we do 10,000 hours practice.

      The BBC have given this man his own show!


    • jomesy Mar 28, 2017 / 1:15 pm

      The teacher he was talking to is the headmaster of a prep school in Kent. He’s not an elite rugby type. In fact he’s really rather socially awkward with adults…but he’s fantastic (and I don’t use that word lightly) with kids and the way he runs the school. And, yes, my kids do go there, to my considerable impoverishment, because the state system would not even consider flexing to my eldest child’s needs (and in for a penny and all that meant they all had to go). The son is very similar to his father.


      • SimonH Mar 28, 2017 / 1:33 pm

        Jomesy, no offense intended – I like and watch rugby and think Huw Jones is a fine player. I didn’t mean “elite” in a social sense but in a playing sense.

        This isn’t the place to debate public/private schooling. I was just frustrated that Smith wouldn’t even consider how what he was arguing might apply to state schools. Above all, I was frustrated how he avoided (for the zillionth time in his writing) a cricketing example when it would lead to some criticism of those who run English cricket.

        Talking of avoiding such things. this week’s Spin may well have hit peak Bull.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Mar 28, 2017 / 2:29 pm

        It would be a more interesting article if Smith did give us his views on state education. Does he, for example support a return to the 11 plus where kids are selected at a young age, and their paths are pre ordained? Where does his support of ” the late developer” sit there?

        It’s an interesting and folksy story, but are we going to base a whole theory on one person? Of course there are late developers, but how many make the grade in top sport? And Smith doesn’t even touch on the issue about what it says about elite accadamy coaches if, as his story says youngsters “get bored” quickly in these places? Could it be that the coaches are suspicious of Jonny come latelys who breeze in at a later date without all the indoctrination. Thinking for yourself is not encouraged. What does Smith have to say about that?

        There is a lot of meat to dig into to here, but Smith, as he always does misses the relevant points. He seems to blunder around making up theories based on people he bumped into in social situations. This young rugby player was told, according to Smith by his father not to specialise too early, and enjoy a more light hearted young life. Fine, but in that case where does our old friends theory of 10,000 hours intensive practice fit in?

        Smith is a conduit for here today, gone tomorrow theories. The New Statesman should demand more from him than this. But I can’t tell the difference these day between them, and The Spectator. They seem to have all morphed into the same thing.


      • nonoxcol Mar 28, 2017 / 2:46 pm

        Simon – I thought you’d particularly love The Spin this week.



        • LordCanisLupus Mar 28, 2017 / 5:23 pm


          I’ve written more than a thousand words on very little premise, but this was out there. If I didn’t know any better I would say he avoided the elephant in the room and opted for some good ole fashioned clickbait to bring out a few ole racists!

          It’s great to be alive, isn’t it?


      • nonoxcol Mar 28, 2017 / 2:49 pm

        I didn’t realise it also had the highest % of moderated comments on a cricket piece since Selvey’s Night of the Long Knives All Plunged Into One Man!


        • LordCanisLupus Mar 28, 2017 / 5:48 pm

          Bull is Frank, behind him is the current raging T20 debate…

          The Spin


      • jomesy Mar 28, 2017 / 4:33 pm

        None taken Simon – and I share your frustration with said author. It sometimes feels like he’s baiting people.


    • SimonH Mar 28, 2017 / 3:14 pm

      Liew rises to the occasion as well (this one needs a Premium account):

      A couple of tasters:

      “Eight city-based teams, which will invariably be named after either a devastating meteorological phenomenon or a particularly hazardous animal, neither of which are native to this country”.

      “that lost decade from 2006 to 2016, when cricket curled up in its pay-TV cottage and drew the curtains, has caused irreparable damage. After all, just because something is free to watch does not mean people will watch it: just ask Channel 5”.

      And more succinctly:

      “Money will flow into the game, and it will funnel ruthlessly to the top”.

      “This is how sports die”.

      Strangely, confronted with the most egregious asset-stripping in the game’s history, he’s not writing about whether an obscure piece of cricketing jargon one hears about once every five years is a bit racist and a bit sexist. He just doesn’t have the nose for the vital issues like that Andy Bull!

      Liked by 2 people

      • LordCanisLupus Mar 28, 2017 / 4:41 pm

        Chris and I debate the merits of Liew quite a lot. Chris is more of a plaudit than I am. Sometimes I think he’s one of those apprentice FICJAMs, other times he hits the nail on the head.

        This is the latter. If this is a “success” then the money will go to the top players, we might have a few kids enthused, and we may have damaged beyond repair their route into it.

        But we have to do something.

        The line about Channel 5 is absolutely bang on.


    • LordCanisLupus Mar 28, 2017 / 5:45 pm

      Thought the article was more of a hit than a miss, but any port in a storm and all that.

      However this bit…oh yes!

      Look! BMW!

      Clever old cricket has identified BMW as a role model. Once upon a time, only men used to buy BMWs. Very bad! Sad! So those clever Germans bought Mini, because of women, because everyone knows that women only like ickle cute things or something. And everyone lived happily ever after because BMW was now making money off men AND women.

      Cricket has decided to buy make-up and Muller Corners and now it’s all gravy because it’s okay to love T20 AND Test matches. Amirite, ladies?

      I know Futurebrand are a bunch of charlatans. Alan Tyers knows Futurebrand are a bunch of charlatans. I’m sure most County execs must have been eye rolling throughout this pitch. But the ECB….

      As I said. Harrison and Fordham are the brains of the outfit. It’s beautiful.


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