We’ve been rather quiet on here the last month or so. It’s for a number of reasons: the diet of white ball cricket in the heart of the summer allied with a football World Cup (and England’s progress to the latter stages) inevitably dominates attention. No matter what, it would be the sporting centre-piece, but it can’t be denied that cricket seemed less relevant than ever, a summer afterthought to the main events. Summoning the motivation to write pieces that were only going to echo one another has proved rather hard to do for all of us.
Fortunately, we are now beginning to approach the meat of the cricketing summer, with five Tests in six weeks that will restore somewhat the rhythm and cadence to a season. Yet the future is clearly that the Tests are to be an August feature, and a September one too, given the Ashes schedule for next year takes it well into the autumn. It’s not that this is inherently wrong, and nor is it unprecedented, but the intended sidelining of Test cricket for lucrative white ball cricket, international or domestic, few overs or many, is abundantly clear. This is the future as the ECB see it.
The sheer drivel around the Hundred continues apace. The 10 ball final over idea appears to have been nixed by the players, but now the revised “plan” appears to be something along the lines of 20×5 ball overs, but with the freedom to bowl consecutively, or even all from the same end.
It should be remembered that this was initially sold as being a simple concept, one that would attract non-cricket fans rather than the apparently detested lovers of the game. Yet we’re now in the position that even those eccentrics are helplessly confused about what on earth is going on, what the rules will be and how it helps anything. Even a bank balance. Cricket really isn’t that complicated a game yet if you listen to the ECB you’d be under the impression it was far to the north of quantum physics. But having pushed the myth of this, they now seem intent on making it even more complex in order to apparently make it simpler. This is insanity, a full on Catch 22 approach to the sport.
Of course, the fundamental point here is that they aren’t promoting cricket. They have totally lost sight, by accident or design, of what their role is meant to be – financial rewards are supposed to be there in order to support the game of cricket, not to be an end in themselves. We now have a future summer schedule where red ball county cricket is pushed ever more to the margins, a T20 Blast that is proving highly successful, 50 over competitions, white ball cricket internationally in the heart of the summer, plus a new competition that appears to be being designed to fit into the initial name with no regard for anything else.
Add to that Cricinfo reporting that the ECB are tying up a deal for 10 over cricket, and the flippant comment that what the ECB would really like is to be able to remove cricket from the equation entirely looks prescient rather than amusing. For perhaps the first time in history, a sporting body seems to loathe the game they administer, and to try to avoid it wherever possible. It would surprise no one if the word cricket was deleted from the Hundred, such is the terror of the sport by the administrators. At no point in recent years have they backed the sport, shouted about how amazing it is, how everyone should want to watch and play one of the finest games ever invented. It is all apology, all excuses.
At some point, the question of whether the ECB are fit for purpose to run cricket in this country is going to come up. It’s not there yet, but there are the beginnings of rumblings. Even the press have started to be more critical, although notably it is either those at Cricinfo, or those who are general sports reporters rather than beholden to the ECB access rules. It isn’t much, but it is growing slightly. A governing body that has no faith in its own game really ought to be disqualified from running it on those grounds alone. It is failing from the start.
For let’s be clear: if there’s one thing that anyone who loves cricket wants is that those running the game share that most basic belief. And who really thinks the ECB does any more?
Amidst all the doom and gloom, I think it’s worth noting that test cricket in England is now better attended than 1970s/80s/90s, and in fact at any time in history with the exception of the post-WWII golden age:
An interesting point, but perhaps, possibly, maybe more reflective of a wider trend to increasing attendance at top level sport generally in Britain.
What’s behind this attendance boost? It can’t be ticket prices, as they’re much more expensive nowadays. Better facilities for spectators? Middle class more interested in sports these days?
Thats why I wonder if it’s a rising tide floating all boats. Perhaps the lack of FTA has an effect too – people more inclined to go if they already like cricket.
But it would be dangerous to assume any one is a prevailing reason I suspect. Football attendances are far, far higher now than they were even 25 years ago, and that’s with price hikes too.
Haven’t the capacities of most (if not all) grounds increased over the years? Could it just be that simple?
LikeLiked by 2 people
An average attendance of 25,000 more punters at a test ground (as compared with the ’80s) is obviously no bad thing in itself but it hardly offsets the loss of the mass audience on FTA. All in all, test matches in England are now being viewed by a few hundred thousand people instead of the millions who tuned in in 2005. This I’m afraid is the rather less upbeat reality of the situation and the wider context in which these figures should be viewed.
There’ll be times when the viewing audience on Sky could be fitted into the MCG…
LikeLiked by 1 person
You’re probably right, TLG, but I didn’t want to stand accused of overstating the severity of the situation – you know, like us doom and gloom merchants always do 😉
Your last couple of para’s steal my thoughts to a degree. At what point is teh ECB no longer fit for purpose.
I wonder how long the counties will continue to be dictated to (I presume it will be so long as the ECB’s cheques keep clearing – whether they are admitted to sending them to counties or not).
What is the scope for a new ‘governing body’? I probably should know, ,but how did the ECB actually come about – what caused the demise of the previous body?
The ECB can keep their ‘undred, (and rename as the EHB?) and let someone else focus on actual cricket (red and white ball together).
If something were to happen, and I don’t believe we’re remotely close to it, my suspicion is it would be the clubs who would be the most likely to do it. They don’t get a huge amount from the ECB anyway, outside of Premier Leagues. Conversely, there’s no reason to at present either – certainly no better alternative. But were there to be one, then all bets would be off.
The counties get the dosh. As long as that’s the case, they’ll do nothing. What might be an issue is if Parliament ever got involved, but there’s no sign of that at all.
How do I paste an image? I’ve just had a very interesting chat with Mike Atherton about Rashid on the TimesOnline website, but it’s behind the paywall
And on a related note…….
….wait for it……….
…..the suspense must be killing you…..
Mansplaining the ECB geniuses.
As usual he has his nose up the governing bodies backside. It’s like an illness.
Perhaps if the governing body didn’t “throw around” stupid ideas in the first place we wouldn’t have this feeling of alienating the fans.
If we had a quality cricket media that had been holding the governing body to account for the last four years instead of crawling to them for intimate dinners with the cricket captain or trying to get endless freebies, and selfies with players we wouldn’t be in this mess.
A bit more proper journalism, and a bit less Boasting that you have connections with the school the England captain went to…….might help.
It’s like faith…..
Selvey is now an expert on marketing too. Is there no end to the things he knows more than anyone else about?
To state: there is no marketing person on the planet who would think this is how to do it. But hey, what would those who work in sales and marketing know compared to him?
LikeLiked by 1 person
“It’s like a faith.”……..It’s more like an illness.
Mitchell….”These sort of things will help all cricket and fans.” Says who?
Mitchell …..”Newcomers come once to a short game, come again. Might even go to another format in the future.”
Ah yes, the same crap we were told 15 years ago about 20/20. Now 20/20 is too complicated and long so we need ten over aside, and 15 players, and five ball overs and 10 ball overs.For what? So they MIGHT “even go to another format.”
It might rain tomorrow. It might not. It might snow tomorrow, it might not. You might get replaced by a decent commentator. Then again no chance of that.
But who made him unavailable Mr Atherton? Listening to the usual so called pundits clutch their pearls because Rashid won’t be obedient to an England set up that has had lousy man management issues for years. He is just another in a long line of men discarded by incompetent selection criteria.
England dropped him from the Test team for the Ashes Mr Atherton, and replaced him (in a creinious selection gamble) with Crane. (A man who had played zero times for England and had taken zero wickets for England.)
Crane then carried the drinks all over Australia for the first four test matches as England magnificently went 3-0 down. This on the back of Rashid being one of the leading wicket takers in England’s previous winter tour to India the year before.
I think he took more wickets in that one series than Selvey did in his whole career. Not surprisingly Rashid, having been discarded decided to focus on white ball cricket for England, and global 20/20, You can’t blame him.
There is a nasty pompous Officer type who make up the England cricket media, and ECB. If your face doesn’t fit you must still grovel to these losers for a place in the team. Selvey has show in his crayon scribblings before that he is biased against Rashid. Who knows why? But seeing as Selveys judgement has been pretty much wrong on just about everything no one with an IQ over 70 will listen to a word he says.
By the way…. funny to see him whinging about not getting another freebie at the Open Champinship. Especially interesting as he has sneered at those who have never played (like him) at the professional level of cricket. Funny I don’t t remember Mike Selvey professional golfer in the last forty years. Under his criteria…… why would anyone want to listen to such an obviously non expert talk about golf swings and putting technique?
Thanks for the e-mail, although I’m never sure if it’s you because I’ve been receiving blatant toxic e-mails from someone spoofing your name.
I’ll see what I can do when I get home.
Sorry it was me, only just seen this.
Unfortunately either an Adobe hack or LinkedIn hack meant one of my emails became public domain and although I regularly change my password they must have hacked BT.
Have to drop this account I guess.
I must’ve read the paragraph below a dozen times and I still don’t understand it. Is it just me? Am I being obtuse, or is there a typo somewhere that’s making what sounds like probably another ECB crack pipe plan literally nonsensical?
“…each side would select a team of 12 but only 11 would be permitted to bat and field. That means one player would be picked purely as a specialist batsman and not take the field during the opposition’s innings, with a specialist bowler or fielder not featuring when his own side were batting.”
Oh that’s nothing. The Times has it that it could be 15 a side. Any advance?
Go the whole American Football hog – several completely separate teams for different conditions and situations. The sun has come out! Get the spinners and flat track bullies on. It’s overcast! Wheel them off and get your medium nibble-awayers and late cutters on the pitch. It’s raining! Invite the ones with the latest version of Call of Duty or Fifa Pro Nerd……
The Sky’s the limit.
I still think the idea of each team having a number of tactical badgers to release onto the field at well-chosen moments is by far the best.
And during the innings break they could have a round of ferret legging, where the ECB types are the ones who get to stuff ferrets down their trousers.
From the same liars who claim they want to simplify the rules to make it understandable to moron children, and dim mothers.
Seeing as their only interest is getting money from people who will pay to watch anything, how about public executions? Every week a member of the board will be put to death for their crimes against cricket. I bet you would sell out most grounds in England. Problem is we would soon run out of board members to execute.
On the other hand, every cloud……..
It’s the heat, this damned relentless heat!!!
As we head to the end of July in the midst of one of the best summers we have had for years don’t you just marvel at the fact that the main Test cricket of the summer hasn’t even started yet?
The Open has been and gone, So too Wimbledon, and The World Cup. In a few weeks the football season will start again. I will laugh if the rain comes in and washes out the Test series. Serves them right, though they won’t care as they have decided to destroy all cricket played over more than one day.
With the England players involved, the County Championship suddenly takes on the hallmarks of a really good little competition, especially in Div 1.
To pick but one obvious example – this week Yorkshire vs Lancs has had on show Root, Buttler, Bairstow, Anderson, Bresnan, Coad, Livingstone, Williamson, Vilas, Onions, Jennings, Hameed, Ballance and Lyth – all of who have had or could have international background.
I’m guessing SKY have the rights, but decided not to show it, again. I’m sure they have AB De Villiers Batting masterclass 4, or Rob Key’s Coaching Clinic, to put on repeat, again.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I think they’ve been showing U19s cricket.
Definitely worth looking at Vithushan’s three little documentaries on inner-city cricket, over at the Guardian. Covers a lot of things we talk about here. The one on ethnic minority players especially offers a range of different viewpoints.
What struck me is that the ECB is never mentioned, apart from a reference to the All Stars. One successful initiative was funded by the MCC Foundation, the rest seemed to be dependent on local authorities or fund-raising.
Clubs being restricted in the coaching they can offer because they have no nets… they apply for funding to Sport England and get turned down. ECB? Nowhere. What happened to all that funding for grassroots cricket that was supposed to come from the Sky money?
LikeLiked by 1 person
It went on enormous salaries for players, and administrators, and hangers on. Oh, and endless hospitality to keep the scribblers on side.
And fees for useless marketing consultants.
If there’s one area I differ on this, it’s the blaming of “marketing consultants”. Marketing departments do not decide this sort of stuff. Never. They’re presented with the plan and have to make the best of it. There is absolutely no way this is marketing led, because anyone who did so would be incompetent to the point of unemployability.
The ECB’s marketing team will be tearing their hair out over all this, not keen on it, and definitely not behind it. It’s not how marketing works.
Yes I would ageee. Management consultants are the ones I am suspicious of. They are hired by the CEOs, who are paid to run companies. Sometimes you wonder why the shareholders bother. Just rehire the consultants and sack the CEOs. Or hire a CEzo who knows what he/she is doing.
The problem with the ECB marketing consultants is they have no idea what to market. That is because neither do the ECB.
I’ve been a management consultant plenty of times. You find out what the company wants to do, and suggest ways to implement it. You don’t go off piste and come up with a radical new formula.
Oh yes…. the consultants always get their noses in the trough.
Funny they get hired by the same people who claim they are running things, and must be paid huge salaries for their expertise. Yet they are completely clueless, so they hire other clueless over paid geniuses. It’s the clueless leading the clueless. But it pays well.
What is the “full potential” that this clown Hollis is talking about?
Do you actually like cricket? Or do you want to change it so completely for money that it is no longer cricket?