We’re hot-desking in the office at the moment, which means as a relatively late starter I have all the fun of the fair in securing a desk. On Wednesday I sat next to a cricket supporter. Not a die-hard by any stretch of the imagination, but someone, ideally, who should be following the game. As Eoin Morgan completed his hundred, and Moeen Ali was attacking the Proteas, I turned to him and said “Morgan’s got another ton for us”. He looked at me in a facade of confusion. “What are you talking about?”.
He had absolutely no idea England were playing an ODI against the World’s Number One team. They say test cricket lacks “context” but this series is being played in advance of a major tournament as some form of glorified warm-up. England aren’t messing about with anyone at this time, and I am no doubting that their intensity is necessary, but this is a series with preparation in mind. England won’t, and can’t, make many changes in the next week and nor will South Africa. England are getting decent reps from the pundits, but there’s still this nagging doubt that the batting will collapse into a heap, or their bowling won’t staunch the runs. We might have a lot better prospects than the “puncher’s chance” of 2015, but it’s important not to peak too early.
But back to the visibility of this series. We know on BOC that ODI doesn’t FYB. But it is an important part of the ECB’s Mission Statement, and Strauss has a lot riding on this Champions Trophy and the 2019 World Cup. It’s certainly an impressive trick of the light to be able to charge £89 for Compton Upper tickets on Monday for what is a preparation event, but should we be worried that floating cricket fans had no clue this series was on? In a slightly related development, BBC were announced as the Champions Trophy highlights channel, which will improve some visibility, but not a knockout one. The game is drowning in ignorance, and it is doubtful a long run in the Champions Trophy is going to halt that.
One sage is not convinced the BBC will help the visibility at all…
You have to laugh. On so many levels.
Tomorrow sees the second ODI at Castle Greyskull, the international venue in England that is about as inaccessible as could be. That it’s a Bransgrove hosted event is also particularly lovely. There’s not a lot of love on here for him. The game itself is important only to see if England can maintain the momentum. It’s been a very high scoring ground in the past for ODIs and if the threatened storms don’t materialise, it should be tomorrow too. Jason Roy could do with a hit, Mark Wood needs miles under the clock, and Jos also needs to show a little form. But these are minor quibbles. England are playing an ODI on FA Cup Final day. On Rugby Union Premiership Final Day. The PGA Championship is on at Wentworth. It’s a Bank Holiday weekend.
Will anyone notice another ODI with this talented exciting team? Another one of my colleagues is off to the Sponsor Bowl tomorrow. So I suppose people are. But enough of them?
You tell me.