Day 3 – New Zealand v Sri Lanka & Afghanistan v Australia

It’s quite strange when you think about it. By the end of today eight teams would have commenced their World Cup campaign. Tomorrow the ninth does. India do not start until Wednesday. Why is that?

I have to say that there is a sneaking suspicion that Occam’s razor applies here. Because I am beginning to get a little fed up that any one-sided fixture in this competition is greeted with the usual tweets by those who wish to see more countries at this competition. Point the ire at sport, across the world’s, relationship with television. For the sake of TV entertainment, and therefore the vast revenues, games are rescheduled, tournaments are “seeded”, certain teams are kept apart, certain teams have to play each other, and it is you, the public’s, fault for wanting more sport, more live sport, when it is more commercially convenient for you to watch it. India have the most clout, there’s no surprise in that, no controversy, and for that reason a repeat of 2007 must never happen again. It simply can’t. So I suppose TV is behind India not starting until Wednesday. So those bemoaning the format, bemoaning the one-sided game that is always possible, those bemoaning the contraction of the game, point the ire at the authorities who need India TV money to make money. They want more India matches. It’s commercial reality. Sport be damned.

So to today, and the second of the qualifiers, because it is easy to forget that West Indies had to, makes their first appearance with a tough opener against Australia. While the Aussies have been wearing hair shirts for the last year, it has been easy to take their poor form, until recently, as an indicator that they may not be the force they were. The abrasive Warner, and the rough Steve Smith join the team, and they look stronger. The bowling looks dangerous, the warm-up win has given them a bit of swagger, and there’s a not so quiet confidence coming from the Australians. I have called them the cockroaches quite a few time – you might think you’ve killed them off, that the pest has been removed, but they always bloody come back (there’s a life experience from my early years in a tower block). It’s what makes them such great pantomime villains in our rivalry. Pundits sit back, laugh at their misfortune, and even, as in 2013, wondered why he had to just get out of second gear to win. Then the little rascals kick our arses. Then come back and kick it some more. They’ll be there in the shake-up. Trust me.

This game is taking place in Bristol. The weather is set fair in England (and Wales) for today, so we could have some runs, especially if Australia bat first. I do wonder if this is as one-sided as I fear it might be, whether the same tweeters moaning about yesterday’s game will be so vociferous.

(Look, I like this World Cup format. Sorry to disappoint anyone. I would, as in any sporting endeavour, like to see all countries have to qualify for the tournament (maybe not the holders and hosts) but I’m living in a dreamworld if I believe anyone would allow the Big 3 to be up for elimination)

The first game today, from Cardiff, is New Zealand v Sri Lanka. I’m hoping for a good day for my work colleague, Simon, who is travelling down there this morning. New Zealand got a bit of a pasting in a warm up game, at the hands of the West Indies, and that might have knocked confidence, but this is a dangerous team, capable of beating anyone and should not be underestimated. Sri Lanka have been largely discounted as contenders, and the team lacks star quality, but until we see them play, there’s always the element of mystery.

I didn’t get to see yesterday’s nonsense from Trent Bridge. I would point out that on the Cricket Debate on Thursday night, when they weren’t talking about greatest ever catches (Bob Willis was having none of that nonsense), Charles Colvile actually mentioned that 500 was possible. Well that lasted well (honestly, we worry that these guys know more than you and I?) as Pakistan subsided to 105, and the West Indies knocked them off in five minutes. I think the West Indies are a sneaky decent team and they can often be kryptonite to England, while Pakistan are a walking cliche (and twitter loves a cliche).

So the World Cup is now up and running, and it’s a game a day for the next month. We’ll endeavour to keep up, and hope you stick with us for the entire competition. The event has certainly stirred up emotions behind the scenes, the media is in overdrive, everyone has an opinion, and people are talking about the sport, even if it is still a limited number. But it feels like there’s an event going on, and that has to be good.

Any comments on today, feel free to let them go. Also we are on Twitter – @OutsideCricket – where we promise not to be as up our own rear ends as others! Well, we don’t think we are.

Have a good day. With the Champions League Final and the Derby, there’s a lot on. (Not quite 14th July – World Cup Final, Wimbledon Mens Final and British Grand Prix). If you get the chance, enjoy them all as much as you can. If you want.


42 thoughts on “Day 3 – New Zealand v Sri Lanka & Afghanistan v Australia

  1. nonoxcol Jun 1, 2019 / 7:43 am

    I was not aware of that clash on 14 July. I assume Wimbledon moved fairly recently in order to leave a longer gap after the French Open. I also note that the British Grand Prix is the only FTA race of the season in the UK. I am not paid to maximise the visibility of showpiece sporting events.

    I would make the obvious point about this home World Cup being a missed opportunity, but – whether England win or lose – the ECB won’t give a shit about 50 over cricket once it’s done. So I guess it doesn’t matter either way.

    Trafalgar Square was followed by the immediate and permanent cessation of free to air international coverage. India’s IPL was immediately followed by Stanford. England’s most sustained period of success under Sky
    money was closely followed by the banishment of a key player and eventually “outside cricket”. A possible home World Cup win (after 44 years trying) would be followed by the immediate marginalisation of domestic 50-over cricket in favour of a format derided by the overwhelming majority outside the usual media bottom lickers.

    The ECB’s sense of timing really is more Chris Martin than Brian Lara, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Jun 1, 2019 / 9:02 am

      That 14th July just for a little while had shaped up to be something extraordinary – before Murray succumbed to injury before the tournament and England went out in the semi final.
      But what it did do was emphasise that all those who wittered on about people not “consuming” sport in traditional ways to be talking utter bollocks. You didn’t have to be an ardent football fan to get caught up in World Cup fever – to be at an open air big screen event as I was for the first knock out stage, to have a bbq with the neighbours as England smashed the goals in against Costa Rica to ever louder cheers around the neighbourhood.
      The viewing figures were extraordinary – over 20 million. A shared experience, and all anyone talked about. Cricket doesn’t often reach such levels, but it can and it has, and we all remember it doing so. And you know what, given how good this England team are, I am convinced beyond measure that this World Cup it would have been a national event. If it was on FTA tv.

      Those who love the moolah cricket currently gets from Sky hate this being pointed out – it wrecks their central argument about people not watching sport on tv.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mark Jun 1, 2019 / 9:43 am

        Harrison started trotting out that line that people “consume” their sport in a different way when he was on with Shinny toy. On mobile devices and laptops and tablets. Yet as you say, when they just put sport on easily available media people watch it………on giant screens, not phones.

        When the Winter Olympics comes round Curling gets a bigger audience than cricket. And people are watching on their TV sets not their phones.

        Liked by 1 person

        • thelegglance Jun 1, 2019 / 9:54 am

          People do watch on phones and tablets. If they can’t get near a bigger screen. I once had people on the train crowding round my phone peering at the rugby – that’s the difference, it’s additional not instead of. That’s why the football World Cup audiences were so enormous, you’re adding all the iPlayer calls on top of the tv broadcast ones.

          It’s an opportunity, not a limitation Harrison you idiot.

          Liked by 3 people

          • nonoxcol Jun 1, 2019 / 10:59 am

            I don’t venture there very often these days, but I had a mini-row with someone at the Guardian BTL about FTA coverage last week. His point was that the ICC determined rights years ago, and he welcomed the presence of the Hundred on the BBC. We were at cross purposes: my point was that only one of the three major team sports in this country has cut off ALL international coverage from free tv, and that is the disgrace it always was.

            All I suggested was 4 England games, one semi and the final on FTA. Nope. Too much to ask apparently.

            Liked by 1 person

          • thelegglance Jun 1, 2019 / 11:05 am

            Because that’s a fairly typical deliberate mis-representation that goes on all the time. Barely anyone is suggesting wall to wall England coverage on FTA because it’s clearly out of the question. But as you say, ALL other sports ensure some is FTA. Not cricket. Not until the Hundred which is them panicking.


          • dannycricket Jun 1, 2019 / 12:17 pm

            It bears saying that the FA and FIFA would absolutely sell their TV rights to Sky or BT exclusively if they could, but they can’t because the government has declared them events of national interest some of which *has* to be on Freeview. This is no longer the case with cricket, as the ECB successfully lobbied the government before 2005 to remove the home Ashes series from that category. And cricket’s fall in popularity in the UK means there is little pressure from the majority of the population on the government to reverse that decision.


          • thelegglance Jun 1, 2019 / 12:18 pm

            That isn’t quite true Danny. FIFA, yes, but the FA deliberately keep a FTA presence, both for the FA Cup and for England qualifiers that don’t have to be on FTA. Only tournaments do.


          • dannycricket Jun 1, 2019 / 12:25 pm

            Yes, but they are the less-valuable parts of the TV rights. I am dubious, perhaps unfairly so because of the ECB’s actions, that if the FA were able to sell the FA Cup final or World Cup finals TV rights to the highest bidder that they would be as magnaminous.


          • LordCanisLupus Jun 1, 2019 / 12:29 pm

            Hasn’t the Olympics run up against this “Crown Jewels”? Discovery Channel won the bid, but found they can’t just stick everything on Eurosport and are having to put a lot of the action on BBC? I lost track of all of it, so may have moved on since.


          • Mark Jun 1, 2019 / 11:46 am

            The ECB screwed up with the loss of some free to air tv as did a lot of the elite pundit class who don’t pay to watch major England’s matches, and cheered on by their below the line Guardian Cheerleaders.

            The ECB has still to admit this error. Instead they invented a new sport. A dogs breakfast to put something ,anything which involves a bat and a ball on free to air tv, while pretending that no one watches tv anymore and that the world has changed. I guarantee that had the ashes been shown live this year on free to air tv people would watch it on tv and not phones.

            But as I said before, if the ECB said they would build car parks on all county grounds the lemmings at The Guardian would go into raptures.


          • LordCanisLupus Jun 1, 2019 / 12:27 pm

            1. It’s on Channel 5. No-one watches Channel 5. The EFL highlights are on Quest. Who the hell knows what Quest is? I’ll bet audiences declined from the Channel 5 highlights. It’s called, as your boys like to put it, appointment to view.

            2. It’s highlights. Not the game evolving before your eyes, but after the event. It’s a neat second place but does not replicate the thrill and excitement of live sport. Of not knowing, or being able to know, the result. Plus the highlights were on when I was commuting home. PLus Michael Vaughan.

            3. Your own ECB boys said, and Danny caught it in Harrison’s interview, that international sport is a premium product. That the team representing YOUR nation is only to be viewed by those wealthy enough to afford it. Yes, he was talking about ticket prices, but he also means international matches.

            4. Football has a lot. A lot. A fucking lot to answer for. But watch BT Sport with this final. I haven’t checked but I’ll wager they’ll be allowing it on FTA tonight. If England make the semi, or the final, let’s see what Sky does. And will they promote it if it is on a Sky One, or Sky Mix (is it)?

            Selvey has been an authority-backer on this despite his past on TMS. You could almost think he’s on secondment there.

            Liked by 2 people

          • dannycricket Jun 1, 2019 / 12:30 pm

            Every England game in the 2017 Women’s World Cup was on Sky Sports Mix, I think, which seemed a large part of why the win had as much impact as it did. Not a truly widespread one, as it might have had on Freeview, but it at least reached across a fairly broad swathe of existing English cricket fans.


          • thelegglance Jun 1, 2019 / 12:42 pm

            And there you go. What bullshit.

            Liked by 1 person

          • nonoxcol Jun 1, 2019 / 1:07 pm

            Reminder that this is a man who, in his last seven years at the ever-questioning Guardian literally backed the ECB and ICC on everything, except when the former upset Donald McCrae.

            Literally every single thing. To the extent that, three years later, he’s been shortlisted for Ed Smith’s job and even backs the fecking Hundred.

            And anyone who thinks 2005 would have been the same with highlights only is talking out of their arse. I don’t care how many first class wickets they took.

            Liked by 1 person

          • LordCanisLupus Jun 1, 2019 / 1:10 pm

            I have a feeling that “many county grounds would be housing estates but for Sky” is going to be the new “tablets and mobiles”.


          • thelegglance Jun 1, 2019 / 1:13 pm

            If cricket is so inept it can’t cut its cloth according to its income, then it damn well deserves to have the county grounds turned into housing estates. It’s a bullshit argument. Again. Of course it would have managed – people just wouldn’t have been on £700,000 a year.


          • LordCanisLupus Jun 1, 2019 / 1:26 pm

            2005 ECB Accounts – pre-Sky close-off.

            Revenue (Ashes season) – £78.8m
            Profit – £9m
            Admin Expenses – £11m
            Directors Pay (Total) – £307k (previous year £70k)
            Cricketers Salary – £4m
            Admin – £1.1m

            Compare with 2019

            Revenue (India TV year) – £172m
            Profit – £5m
            Admin Expenses – £142m (this is not broken down as 2005’s – but at worst assumption on that, admin costs were £56m)
            Total Wages – £32m (not like with like, given women’s cricket is now fully funded – but you can bet it’s still an enormous increase)
            Directors Pay – £992k

            Make of that what you will….

            Liked by 1 person

          • thelegglance Jun 1, 2019 / 1:38 pm

            At best, the argument really being made is that given their income increase, they couldn’t cope with it dropping. This is also bollocks – football clubs being relegated from the Premier League have to do it every single season. No, it’s not easy. But they do it.


          • dannycricket Jun 1, 2019 / 1:38 pm

            I assume most of the increase in Admin Expenses is FutureBrand’s fee for naming the 8 The Hundred teams. I mean, they’re the best in the world at branding stuff. It’s not like the ECB could have found 8 better names by having a competition with primary school kids…


          • LordCanisLupus Jun 1, 2019 / 1:49 pm

            FutureBrand’s UK subsidiary had a turnover of £12m last year. Now that income may or may not be the work for the ECB, and it may or may not be that some of the revenue is filtered through tax havens and so on. The accounts on Companies House are unaudited. All the subsidiary’s turnover was from UK businesses.

            The parent (IPG) has a revenue of $9bn. There is a UK holding company that does the square root of naff all, and is FutureBrand’s immediate parent. A small cog in a very large wheel. No feel for the size of the ECB contract, but it’s not going to be massive. Of course, we’ll only have a sense, if any, in FutureBrand’s 2018 accounts (due by end of September).


          • dannycricket Jun 1, 2019 / 2:07 pm

            Nah, I reckon FutureBrand squeezed at least £10m from the ECB for these ‘team identities’. I mean, if they were cheap then the ECB would have disavowed them by now…


          • thelegglance Jun 1, 2019 / 2:21 pm

            Click to access Annual_Report_2017.pdf

            This is the RFL most recent annual report. They turn over only about £22m a year, a fraction of the ECB. But the viewing figures make for interesting reading. This is a niche sport in many respects, but check out the viewing figures on FTA.


          • dannycricket Jun 1, 2019 / 2:32 pm

            The peak viewing figure for the Super League final on Sky Sports of 460k compares to the 2015 Ashes which I think probably peaked at around 1 million. However, it says the Super League final viewing figures increased, whilst cricket viewing figures have decreased. If the decline in interest in English cricket continues at the same rate, I would expect the peak number of home Ashes viewers to fall below 460k by 2023.

            As for over 2 million people watching an international rugby league game on Freeview, it will be interesting to see how the T20Is and The Hundred compare next year. At best, I think it would be roughly the same, perhaps a bit lower…


          • LordCanisLupus Jun 1, 2019 / 2:37 pm

            Brian Barwick is in charge. He knows a little about TV and sport.

            Also – according to this all Australia games are on Channel 9 –

            Star Sports own the rights but other countries seem to share where needed – SABC has coverage in South Africa.

            A page like this, though, makes me weep…



          • Marek Jun 1, 2019 / 1:46 pm

            Thank you LCL for giving us the elephant’s vital statistics!

            And there we have the concept of The Hundred in all its glory–that administrators only ever look at the financial issue from the point of view of “we must raise our revenue” and not from “we must reduce our expenses because we’re overspending”.


          • LordCanisLupus Jun 1, 2019 / 1:56 pm

            They’ve been pretty crap at increasing revenue.

            2015 accounts – the last with an Indian home series before last year. Turnover – £174m (other series Sri Lanka)
            2019 accounts – India touring in 2018 – Turnover – £172m (other series Pakistan – ODI series with Australia)

            Got to be worth a £700k CEO, that….


          • Mark Jun 1, 2019 / 4:20 pm

            And as if by magic The man who knows things that others don’t know arrives to prove my point.

            For someone who sat up on his lofty commentary perch at some of the best sporting occasions around the world (which I’m assuming he never had to pay for because he is “press.”) he has an almost crazed fetish that others should have to pay up to watch.

            Remember when he got told he would not be going on the last Ashes series? He could have paid his own way. Expensive mind to stay out in Aus for three months.

            As to the football, it will be interesting to see how long they stick with BT if the viewing figures don’t improve. Four Premiership teams in two finals and hardly anyone has been watching live. And yes, Selveys claims about highlights counting as free to air is comparing apples and oranges. Match of the day has been on for decades showing highlights of the Premiership. Nobody calls that FzTA Premiership football.

            The money men were not best pleased when Ajax got to the semi final and with Barcelona going out in the semi final the whispering for super leagues grows louder.


  2. Mark Jun 1, 2019 / 8:48 am

    I do wonder how many 16.4 matches will turn out to be dreary one sided bores? You only need a batsman to go berserk for 25 odd balls and that’s the game right there. Thanks for coming…….did Charlie like the bouncy castle?

    I met a bloke who is a supporter of one of the teams relegated from the Premiership last week. He told me that it’s not the politically correct view, but he is secretly delighted to be returning to the Championship. Why? TV scheduling means he can’t go and watch his team most weeks. He is looking forwarded to watching matches at mostly 3pm on a Saturday. Lunch time kick offs are no good, neither is Sunday football because he has family commitments, and Monday night football is a waste of time as he is working.

    Seeing how TV now dominates sport, and pays for sport I believe ticket prices for those attending should be reduced to peanuts, especially where there are huge empty rows of seats. After all, the only spectators they care about are those who are paying to watch at home. When you look at the idiocy of ticket allocation for the Chelsea Arsenal final on Wednesday you have to ask why do fans even bother to follow their teams these days?

    As for today’s cricket I fear it looks like two one sided matches. But who knows? Australia might cheer us all up and fall over a banana skin.


    • thelegglance Jun 1, 2019 / 9:09 am

      The one thing that mitigates against one sided matches, which happens in every World Cup of whatever variety, is having two matches in a day. That’s it. Nothing more needed. Two games also makes it feel like an event.
      Yes, there’s a time factor and games crossing over, but so what? It is the reason why the T20 World Cup feels a bit different. And it would shorten this one too.


  3. Mark Jun 1, 2019 / 10:03 am

    Just looking up the 1992 World Cup schedule as they also used this format. It started on the 22 of Feb with two games on that day. New Zealand vs Australia, and England vs India. The next day, the 23rd, were two more games…Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe, and WI vs Pakistan.

    There were only eight teams in that competition, but all of them had played on the first two days. Many days had two matches, and the round robin format finished on the 18 March. Semi finals on the 21 & 22, and the final on the 25th. All over in a month.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. LordCanisLupus Jun 1, 2019 / 10:16 am

    OK. Just switched on. WTSF with this wicket? It doesn’t have to be played on exactly the same pitch for the entire tournament, does it?


    • Metatone Jun 1, 2019 / 12:32 pm

      I’m not that bothered by “one-sidedness” but it’s a weakness of ODI cricket that if the pitch is bowler friendly it definitely favours the side bowling first, esp. if D-L gets involved. I’m not looking for 500 pitches, but 150 pitches are not good news.


  5. Marek Jun 1, 2019 / 12:04 pm

    If I remember correctly, the India situation has a different cause–although it’s the other side of the same razor!

    When they took over the running of the BCCI, the CoA decreed that India shouldn’t play any international games in the 15 days either side of the IPL–which I think was originally scheduled to finish on May 19, so the first day they could have played was Tuesday. The final IPL dates were only set after the World Cup fixtures had been announced.

    It still amounts, though, to the ICC needing to kowtow to the BCCI about everything because they want their money. They could, for example, have merely said “India’s first game will take place on June xx, and we won’t change that to accommodate a domestic competition”; that is, after all, what they said to the ECB about the availability of Vince and Dawson for the RL final.

    I’m less sanguine than you about this. Whilst clearly in the short term the ICC can’t afford to upset India, I don’t think it’s in the long-term interests of the game to not be able to do anything that upsets one board, including allowing their team to be eliminated from a “competition”. Those interests would be better served by expanding the base of the game, and that’s not going to happen very fast while there’s an effective ceiling on the participation of even the 11th or 12th best teams in the world. The retirement of Preston Mommsen should have been quite a wake-up call in that respect….but it wasn’t!

    It also allows those running the game to ignore another elephant in the room, which is that the current pay given to players and administrators outside India is unsustainable given the relative lack of money going into the game.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Jun 1, 2019 / 12:17 pm


      Thanks a lot for this clarification. In many ways it is even more horrifying than just assuming there was a TV reason. The “pinnacle” of the game should not be scheduled around a T20 jamboree, but this really is the tail wagging the dog.

      Do not confuse me being sanguine with not being angry about this. Too many times an English person starts complaining that India runs cricket, there is a kneejerk reaction that it’s the individuals running it I have the problem with, not the nature of that running. As can be seen with my attitude to the ECB, I am an equal opportunities loather of sports admin. While sport is in hock to money, cannot live without money, doesn’t want to take a cut in revenue for the collective good, thinks the bigger picture is a can to be kicked down the road, there’s nothing we can do about it.

      As can be seen from the Champions League (football), a level playing field competition is the last thing sports “businesses” want. The uncertainty of being knocked out early is no good for a bottom line. So while England supposedly revels tonight in an “all English” final, I’ll bet much of Europe (and the world) will switch off. As I say repeatedly, the reaction to the Premier League win by Leicester, of the big clubs, was to make it even harder for that fluke to ever happen again.

      But for India not to play because of a contractual provision for a domestic tournament. That’s mad. And not good.


      • Marek Jun 1, 2019 / 1:12 pm

        Also worth noting that the CoA have been quite prepared to bend that provision when there’s something in it for them–like home matches and broadcast income! The gap between the end of the Australia ODIs in March–which were scheduled after the IPL dates were known–and the IPL was nine days. There will probably be a similar situation next March with the SA one-dayers.


  6. dArthez Jun 1, 2019 / 6:31 pm

    I missed the games due to other commitments, but on the evidence thus far the ICC must be dying to try a 4-team World Cup in 2023.


    • dannycricket Jun 1, 2019 / 7:17 pm

      5-team, unless you think they’re prepared to have one without India…


    • dArthez Jun 1, 2019 / 8:40 pm

      England, India and Australia are guaranteed their places. Preposterous to think otherwise. The other teams play a qualification tournament, to be held whenever the Ashes or series between England or Australia and India are held.

      Or is a ten-wicket trashing, trashings by 100 runs, or 7 wicket trashings, competitive to Dave Richardson, who lambasted better results from the Associates in 2015 as uncompetitive?

      Seriously, this is an extremely underwhelming start to the tourney, even if you had limited expectations of competitive cricket this World Cup.


      • dannycricket Jun 1, 2019 / 8:51 pm

        It’s largely the luck of the draw, since no one really expected Sri Lanka or Afghanistan to trouble the better sides nor South Africa to compete with England. Pakistan have just lost a series 4-0 in England as well, so they’re clearly not in form. Had the matchups been between more closely-matched sides, the games should have been closer. And, had that happened, the blowouts would have had more pressure on them as the top teams would know by how much they needed to improve their net run rate.


        • dArthez Jun 2, 2019 / 5:20 am

          I don’t think that is entirely true. While obviously the favourites for each game won, quite handsomely, the games have not even been remotely close – the same ground that was used to banish all the Associates after the 2015 World Cup.

          In the case of an England supporter, they simply had to be unaware of the massive decline of South Africa to think that 311 might be difficult to defend. It might come as a surprise to the commentators who can’t be bothered to follow the international game, or people who comment BTL at say the Guardian (I am not referring to people commenting here).

          England – Australia might be close, but given the format of the tournament, that is pretty much irrelevant: they will both qualify anyway. The few interesting games this group stage will probably involve West Indies and New Zealand, and Pakistan – India (due to historical reasons, in terms of result it is quite likely to be an India win).

          In 2015, three days in, Ireland beat West Indies. In 2011, three days in, England barely managed to chase down a Dutch total; both those games were much closer than anything on offer thus far, and the ICC has rewarded the (then) Associates by making it virtually impossible for them to qualify (ask the Scots how far the ICC will go). And I won’t even mention 2007, four days in, since the “good result” of that World Cup, has been ruthlessly used to destroy competitive international cricket ever since. Well done, ICC you have succeeded!

          So we have a group stage of 45 fixtures, where for the majority of the fixtures any possible excitement has to be provided for by the weather. The format is simply underwhelming, and it might have worked in say 2011 or 2015, but that would have been because the mismatch in quality would have been far less severe than it is now.


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