Netflix and Chill

The unsurprising news of the cancellation of England’s tour to Sri Lanka as the the Covid 19 virus continues its spread across the globe is not even the latest to be afflicted by the desire to limit contagion, as event after event, fixture after fixture is cancelled.

I’m not a scientist, comment on the virus and public policy by those with no knowledge of what is the right thing to do has been a feature of social media over recent days; screaming from a position of scientific ignorance is something I wish to avoid.

But the impact on multiple industries is going to be exceptionally severe, and sport is far from an exception.  The advice from the Chief Medical Officer that the peak level of infection is potentially 14 or more weeks away takes us into June, and thus from an English cricket perspective well into the summer.  This means that at best the Test series against the West Indies must be in major doubt, alongside the early rounds of County Championship and the T20 Blast.  Whether the cancellation of all such events over a lengthy period is sustainable is open to question, for few businesses can maintain shutdowns for any length of time, and whether the public will buy into an absence of much semblance of normal life is also a matter for debate.

The elective nature of the cancellations – as opposed to government compulsion – also means the question of whether insurance cover applies comes to the fore.  Few are likely to have direct knowledge, and by the very nature of it no one is going to want to admit the position publicly, but there must be considerable doubt as to whether the ECB or their counterparts are protected.  Such matters may be thought trifling in a public health crisis, but at some point things will return to normal, and the damage done to that normal life is important too.

It is clearly a big summer from the ECB’s perspective, the launch of the Hundred has been extraordinarily expensive, and while some might teasingly hope that cancellation of that unloved concept is a consequence, any curtailing or abandonment of it would provoke a major crisis in the finances of an organisation that is, like many others, already facing a highly uncertain future.  It is at times like these that the diminution in the ECB’s financial reserves over the last few years begins to look like a risk that has backfired badly.

Furthermore, there must be issues for Sky Sports, who have lost almost all of their content.  Subscriber cancellations seem the likeliest immediate impact of that, though what it means for the various sporting contracts must too be open to doubt.  Given the multi-lateral problems for all parties, one thing that probably can be assumed is that few will be looking to take a hard line.

Of course, the optimistic view would be that the return of sport in the coming months might attract much greater interest than would otherwise have been the case, and there is some reason to hope that once through the worst of this, entertainment may well pick up rapidly from a relieved and probably bored population.  The flip side of that is the financial hardship likely to be faced by many significantly reduces the disposable income for such things as sport.

If the central tenets of the ECB’s most lucrative activities face serious difficulties, it isn’t just the top level that will have questions to address in the coming months.  The amateur game too will be hit by some not wishing to participate, whether or not that is a reasonable response.  Clubs are always on a financial knife edge anyway, and it doesn’t take much to cause them serious difficulties, and with a governing body that even if inclined, would be financially unable to support them.

Supporters too are consistently overlooked.  The cancellation of the Sri Lanka tour was announced by the ECB with no reference to those who had booked to follow the team.  Worse than that, there was still no mention of those travelling in the email sent out to the England Cricket Supporter’s database.  It is clearly not practical for the ECB to offer refunds of their travel, but supporters are highly unlikely to be able to claim on their travel insurance for a destination that remains open to visit.  They are in an extremely difficult position, and it isn’t unreasonable to have expected the ECB to acknowledge that in their communication.  To have ignored it entirely smacks of an organisation that doesn’t care in the slightest about anyone else, and doesn’t even pay lip service to pretending that they do.

What happens next no one knows.  But it seems likely that Netflix, Amazon Prime and similar platforms are doing a decent trade in sign ups, as people either self-isolate or simply don’t have a huge amount else to go and do, or sport to watch.  Sport is always the most important least important thing, and either way the consequences are going to be with us for some years to come.

One thing is for sure, it is far from only sport that is facing these questions, take it from me.  For I work in travel and tourism, and I have had a shit of a month.



19 thoughts on “Netflix and Chill

  1. Marek Mar 13, 2020 / 9:12 pm

    “To have ignored it entirely smacks of an organisation that doesn’t care in the slightest about anyone else, and doesn’t even pay lip service to pretending that they do”. How could you?!

    I was particularly struck by the contrast between this:

    “At this time, the physical and mental wellbeing of our players and support teams is paramount. We will now look to bring them home to their families as soon as possible. These are completely unprecedented times, and decisions like this go beyond cricket.”

    and this

    “The ECB was reluctant to pull out of the Sri Lanka tour fearing it will set a precedent for this summer and give touring teams an excuse not to fulfil fixtures.” (Nick Hoult)

    Maybe the paramountcy of players’ wellbeing is an English thing, that you wouldn’t understand if you come from Guyana or Antigua….

    As an aside, I’ve been amazed by the number of journalists saying with certainty that the series could be rescheduled before the tour of India next yesr. That would appear to be both ignorant and Anglocentric, because a glance of around ten seconds at the FTP shows that SL are playing an away series then. It should be possible to schedule it, but not then: the window is immediately after the WT20.


    • Marek Mar 15, 2020 / 12:36 pm

      What is it with England cricket figures and not being able to read the FTP? Now the Eng-SL series could be tacked onto the END of the India series (Stuart Broad)–when SL are scheduled to be in WI rather than South Africa!

      (The BCCI might have something to say about that too, since it would seem to allow a whopping six free days between the end of a four-test series in Australia and the start of a five-test series!)


      • dannycricket Mar 15, 2020 / 12:40 pm

        It is possible that, in order to get through the backlog of games, white and red ball teams could play concurrently (or at least in the same window) for a period of time. So a Test series during the day, T20s at night, and ODIs on rest days.


  2. Marek Mar 13, 2020 / 9:33 pm

    ….whereas the Eng–WI series is only rescheduleable immediately before the WTC final, in May 2021.

    Apart from being quite likely to cause some humming and ha-ing about priorities because it would remove all-format players from the IPL in a year when there’s a WT20 in India, it could meant that the WTC finalists aren’t finally known until two or three weeks before the final.


  3. dArthez Mar 14, 2020 / 6:04 am

    As if England are the only ones going to be impacted by the corona virus. There will be many more fixtures that will be delayed / cancelled. Bangladesh – Australia being a prime example, which is scheduled to start a week after England – West Indies.

    Australia obviously are in the running to qualify as well. Add in some security issues, which might make it unfeasible for the Australians to travel (or alternatively Bangladesh to host), before the WTC final and we already have a sporting disaster on our hands.

    Never mind what the consequences would be on the players, if the authorities were to ram 8 months of international cricket into 4 months. Unless we have multiple teams representing each country, which obviously would favour teams like England and India, who have way more players to choose from, than say a New Zealand or West Indies.

    And that is if all goes “well”, relatively speaking. If this coronavirus runs amok for a year, then maybe a fairly sensible thing to do schedule wise would be to delay all fixtures by a year (so WTC in 2022, World T20 postponed by a year, etc). That way at least the integrity of most competitions would be guaranteed; but it is not as if the ICC care about integrity anyway, so expect India and whoever benefits from a travesty of justice to be playing WTC in 2021.

    Never mind all the contracts that have been signed, and you can’t expect that players can suck their thumbs to get by. One way or the other the players need to be paid at least something, even if they can’t play cricket.
    Sky’s economics will face many challenges – after all there is only so many times you can see the same masterclass before being utterly bored with it – and forcing everyone who has posted clips online to delete all content is really not going to magically turn it around. And reruns of all the umpiring howlers of 2019, while enjoyable for England fans, will get tiresome as well at some point.

    Cricketing board will struggle to pay the bills as well. Not just in England, but globally. Even if it is just maintaining the cricket infrastructure (and they can somehow find a way for the players, PR-people, and other suits to be paid).

    Obviously, if there is a time to rationalise the cricket schedule, now would be a good opportunity, but as always, do not expect any leadership whatsoever from the ICC.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Trevor Neale Mar 14, 2020 / 8:42 am

    Ego Ronay cooked up this little treat in his latest column…

    ‘English cricket looks in a distinctly sickly place. This is already the worst possible season to have placed the entire summer sport in hock to a wildly optimistic marketing idea. It would be natural to assume that the ECB is insured should The Hundred be cancelled. But no policy will cover the loss of visibility or the opportunity cost of a project that has drawn so much energy its way. There must surely be a chance the non-existent sport with non-existent teams and non‑existent fans will never come into existence at all, that the Oval Invincibles will remain forever invincible, the Trent Rockets unlaunched’.


    • dArthez Mar 14, 2020 / 8:48 am

      Undoubtedly they will market the cancellation as a success of keeping young kids healthy.


      • thebogfather Mar 14, 2020 / 10:42 am

        That depends as to whether the supermarket shelves have been stripped of KP snacks instead of toilet rolls…


        • dArthez Mar 14, 2020 / 5:36 pm

          As if any of that (those pesky facts) will make any difference on the ECB claiming success …


  5. thebogfather Mar 14, 2020 / 11:50 am

    You have to admire the forward thinking of the ECB…
    They will have the only cricket competition running this summer with their ‘TheHundred’
    It will run whatever because even if Boris blusters that no event with more than 100 attendees can go ahead, then due to the indifference/hatred/lack of mums’n’kids, the totaL people at each event will consist of 22 players (+4 subs), 4 umpires, 6 groundstaff, 4 cameramen, 30 press reporters (but only if free lunch is included, so include 4 catering staff and 2 bartenders), 12 ball-boys, 6 commentators shared between Sky/BBC, 3 ‘Important People’ from ECB and 2 mascots in sponsored masks…. and 1 cricket supporter to make it to 100 (dispensable to keep it below 100 in total)


    • Marek Mar 14, 2020 / 2:08 pm

      Where on earth do you get the ludicrous idea that cricket supporters (even one, singular) are welcome at the Hundred?!

      Liked by 1 person

      • thebogfather Mar 14, 2020 / 3:01 pm

        Sky will need a ‘coughs’ crowd shot of somebody… preferably an ECB approved ‘yummy mummy’ #Oopz


        • Sophie Mar 14, 2020 / 3:17 pm

          They already have that crowd shot from a football match somewhere.

          Liked by 1 person

          • thebogfather Mar 14, 2020 / 3:29 pm

            ‘Some mummy aware, over their rainbow? Away they sigh
            There’s a plan, deferred by a virus, now excused to go awry
            Some wear, covert no explain so, SKY is still paymaster blue
            And the dreams that ECB dare to dream really wont come true’


    • dArthez Mar 14, 2020 / 5:38 pm

      You are making an interesting point. With regards to FC cricket. Because if it is just an old man and their dog watching, that would mean that the game(s) can be played, and thus that Sky can broadcast some actual live cricket …


  6. Mark Mar 15, 2020 / 7:21 pm

    I think the financial loss of more and more sectors of the economy are going to pretty soon become more dangerous than the virus itself. That is not to say it is very bad for older people with poor health, and everything should be done to isolate and protect them until maybe a vaccine can be created.

    However, people need to put food on their tables, and what if there are no foods or many other things we need? In our “just in time” society everything can fall apart very quickly. The good news is tens of thousands of people are recovering from this virus and the hope is that will continue.

    As legglance says the travel industry will go into meltdown very quickly like many others if you shut everything down. Who would want to be answering the calls at a call centre for Sky sports subscriptions? Perhaps they can switch to a movie subscription? Major airlines are already asking for bail outs of billions of £. What next? Golfers? Football clubs?

    The hytsteria that has come from some sections of the media is irresponsible, and frankly while it may seem like a goood idea at the time to shut everything down… hunch is this will not be sustainable for very long. What’s more, it will come back again next year. Do we shut down again?

    There are no easy solutions, but isolating 7 billion people, for months maybe years is not going to work.


  7. Northern Light Mar 15, 2020 / 8:14 pm

    I’m waiting for Oliver Holt to rock up in Sri Lanka and tell us all how gutless the England team are for not turning up.
    Perhaps he’s too busy invoking the Blitz spirit and hoarding pasta and toilet roll in his wine cellar.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. quebecer Mar 17, 2020 / 11:27 pm

    Hello Everyone. Just wanted to check in and send my best wishes to you all. Up here on the tundra, we’re on house arrest with Twin A and B, so obviously sanity going forward is a bit of an issue. None the less, for those of you who remember and had been promised a spot, the Apocalypse Bunker is up and running and fully stocked with vodka and other essentials.
    Stay well, all.

    P.S. Those Alex Hales testing results in full:

    Cocaine POSITIVE
    Opiates POSITIVE
    Benzodiazeprines POSITIVE
    Cannabis – 10 POSITIVE

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Marek Mar 28, 2020 / 12:20 pm

    Coronavirus as the start of the sport revolution–it’s reached the Guardian!

    I did like

    “Global plague trumps global sport every time and the degree of delay and fudge was just a function of the political and financial capital involved, the need to erect sufficient litigation-shields and anti-blame mechanisms”.


    “but it will also – and we can say this now – be stuffed full of bullshit, revved up on the deeply phoney and self-serving Big Sport model, these four-yearly events that circle the globe like mobile city states clearing the fields, raiding the public stores, favouring the local Maharajahs with their magic dust”.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s