Somewhere Over the Rainbow

If all publicity is good publicity, then the ECB should be thrilled, for the Hundred has undoubtedly been a talking point over the last week, whether in the media, social media or (the newly rediscovered) real life social settings. As far as social media is concerned, it’s largely hostile, as it always has been since the announcement of the entire concept. Twitter never has been a barometer of public opinion, and that it is negative towards it shouldn’t be viewed as meaning anything at all, and most definitely Twitter polls, or Facebook polls have no relevance to anything.

But the thing that has been utterly lost – not for the first time – on social media is any sense of nuance, with too many pointing to the entirely reasonable public interest in the Hundred as some kind of stick with which to beat those who oppose it, are uneasy about it or who simply aren’t interested in it. Tweets or single sentence posts tend to do that, with a complete inability to explore the issues resulting in confrontational shouting. A long form like a blog ought to allow for a more considered discussion, but it’s still easy enough for anyone to pull out a single sentence and berate people based on that too, as many a journalist will reflect upon to their cost. Lord knows we are probably guilty of that ourselves, making assumptions about a meaning that leaves the writer aghast at the assumed intent. It’s normal enough and human enough, and if I’ve done that to someone (I’m certain I will have done) I can only apologise.

That loss of nuance has also meant a lack of respect for contrary views. The county supporters are looking on in despair at the potential destruction of their sporting love; to treat them as irrelevant, old fashioned and out of touch is not just unreasonable and wrong, it’s extremely cruel. The starting point, even for advocates of the Hundred, ought to be one of empathy, not dismissal. Equally, those who do believe the way forward includes the Hundred deserve a hearing as to why they think so even from those hellbent on hating it, and why they believe the undoubted costs of it are worthwhile. People will come to their own conclusions about the wisdom or otherwise, but it would help things immeasurably if such a conversation could occur without shouting. This, undoubtedly, is a pipedream.

There is no contradiction whatever in some people being opposed to the Hundred but enjoying the cricket. They are, after all, cricket fans and are not betraying any greater cause by liking watching people bowling, fielding and batting. Nor is it any switching of sides to acknowledge that some elements of its start that look to be quite promising – the popularity of the women’s competition being high up in any such list. It is true enough that it might not have needed the Hundred for this focus in the media coverage to have occurred, but it’s also quite possibly true that without it, it simply wouldn’t have happened. It’s the Olympic regeneration argument – of course a city could – and probably should – sink billions into resurrecting a derelict area, but would it happen without such an event? Likely not. There have been significant missteps from the ECB in their approach to the women’s game, pushing the idea it is equal to the men’s when it clearly isn’t, either financially or in profile was to create an argument where there didn’t need to be one through overclaiming. In the same way, creating the impression that the women’s matches have no value through the cancellation policy looked awful, even if the intent was honourable. To their credit, they have acknowledged with something of a wince that they need to look at that again – more of that please, errors are forgivable, responding to them is a good thing.

Sam Morshead’s article in the Cricketer (do have a read if you haven’t already) noted some interesting dynamics with their social media engagement that provides a tantalising suggestion there may be some genuinely new engagement .  This is inherently a very good thing already, and were it to continue then a sceptic might well need to revise some preconceptions. That’s a big if, but it can only be a good thing and hoping for it not to happen because of a dislike of the Hundred would be a very skewed set of priorities.  Cricket needs engagement, it needs a wider demographic showing interest, anything else continues the slide to irrelevance.  Whether it required the Hundred to do that is a very open question, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t intriguing and it should most definitely not be ignored. Another area that is worth watching is the level of supporter identification with the teams. In this I declare an interest that’s not an interest: I don’t follow a particular county, and my overriding problem with the overseas T20 franchise leagues is that I couldn’t care less who wins and who loses. That lowers the degree of interest substantially, but mileage clearly varies in this, and creating a fanbase out of new franchises is both concerning and perhaps in another sense pleasing. It depends how it’s looked at, either a shallow level of interest, or a large market of potential cricket lovers waiting to be tapped.

On the other side of the ledger, the determination by some media figures and journalists to act not as guides or observers of the competition, but instead as rampaging zealous missionaries is intensely irritating and playing the audience for fools.  Even the most ardent believer in it would accept there are wider issues that cause disquiet, and while it is not reasonable to expect that to be a topic of debate in coverage, it goes beyond that to steamroller any possibility that this isn’t the greatest sporting show ever created. It shows scant respect, not just to critics, but to those who on balance are enjoying it and looking forward to it, but can spot the Pravda editorial a mile off.  Media coverage should not be akin to politicians announcing their latest initiative to party conference, and it’s something of a betrayal of journalistic values, and broadcasting standards, to treat it as such. 

Some in the media will undoubtedly believe in the concept and the tournament, there’s not a thing wrong with that, and an inability to accept that someone might have a different view without it meaning they’re somehow evil is one of the curses of modern times.  Others, it is less clear that it is anything but glowing support for the purposes of getting paid – there is still nothing wrong with that, except inasmuch as there’s a pretence at impartiality that isn’t plausible.  Therein lies the problem, most employees are expected to toe the corporate line – I have no intention of going wildly off message about those for whom I work, because I’m not an idiot – but if journalists are to claim that their role is different, and they are open-minded truth seekers, they can’t jump into bed for the company shilling and still maintain that air of separation and independence.  They can be an arm of the PR team or they can be journalists, they can’t be both. 

It’s a mild annoyance in the coverage, and it’s a reflection of where we are rather than a particular stand out, but it damages everyone else working in the sector by association, which may be partly why Huw Turberville and George Dobell are so clearly annoyed about the “Kim Jong-un school of journalism” as Dobell put it.

None of the perceived successes of the competition to date alter the initial objections to it, nor have they been in any way answered by the overly-enthusiastic response of some of its adherents.  The relegation of the 50 over competition to irrelevance, the further sidelining of the red ball competition, the potential for county cricket to be marginalised even further, the effect on the Test team – these are all live, real issues and won’t go away.  The amusement at the pickles the ECB got themselves into over the format matter little when the games are on, but the determination of the likes of Michael Vaughan and others to dismiss all criticism by saying it’s just a game of cricket is to attempt to bypass any discussion of the greater issues by focusing on the least relevant subjects.  For it IS just a game of cricket.  And cricket is a bloody brilliant game, messing with the format was never going to change that, and since cricket fans have been trying to tell everyone for decades how good it is why react with surprise?

But the same applied to T20.  There’s a distinct air of revisionism and straw manning in some of this.  There is no doubt that there were some, often journalists, who saw it as the end of civilisation when it was launched, but those didn’t include people who actually played cricket, for club, village, school and parks cricketers were familiar with the format on the simple grounds that they’d played it their whole lives, and they largely shrugged when it was first brought in professionally and wondered why it had taken so long.  That a retired colonel (this is a completely arbitrary assumption – see how easy it is?) wrote to the Daily Telegraph bemoaning it matters in no way whatever, and shouldn’t be used as a pretence that concerns about the Hundred are grounded in a widespread belief that the clock should be turned back to 1920.

Indeed, the initial explosion of interest in T20 when it first arrived should signal something of a warning sign for the Hundred.  So much of that pointed to as success for the new competition applied to 2003 as well (clearly not the women’s element) with the same novelty and excitement.  And while it is undoubtedly true that the ECB would be entirely thrilled with the same pattern and popularity, it also points to one of the other objections that T20 was already highly successful and didn’t need to be tinkered with.

As to where we go from here, perhaps there is one overriding issue that may dictate things, and that is the success or otherwise of the England team.  T20 was launched with the backdrop of a national team on the up, by no means a dominant one, but where the investment in the county game was beginning to show signs of success in the Test arena at least.  The current depth of red ball cricket in England doesn’t hold such promise, and with series at home to India and away to Australia (assuming it goes ahead), the results therein will be watched closely.  India have had some red ball practice in advance of this series, the England players have not.  Australia, for all the Big Bash hype, have maintained a greater degree of balance with their nursery for Test cricket.  There is something of a hope that things will turn out for the best, but if England don’t produce Test cricketers, they will be soundly beaten more often than not.  The wider damage a weak England causes the Test game is a separate, though vital, part of the equation – the patience of the public with such an eventuality may be a different question.  For the ECB do rely on a degree of ignorance among the casual supporter, those who will watch the Hundred and have no awareness of the potential problems ahead, or the impact on other elements of the professional game.  But they do tend to notice if England get thrashed a lot.

There was hope from some that the Hundred would fail, but there was rather more widely made accusation that anyone who expressed reservations about the concept hoped the Hundred would fail.  A curious assumption that those with deep concerns wanted it made even worse.    People have varying views and reductive and simplistic attack lines are no more valid for all on side than they are the other.  Those who approve of the Hundred often do so for the very best and most thoughtful of reasons, and it’s about time that was recognised as a possibility too. There is a contradiction in that with some of the criticism herein, but if there is an intention behind it, it is to try to comprehend a motivation that moves beyond catcalling for daring to hold a different opinion. We all do it, and we all need to do better.

We are where we are is one of those phrases that manages to be true and yet still annoying when used to express an indifference to what might happen next. But the Hundred is here, and it is not going away for the forseeable future no matter how much some might wish it to. But the battle for English cricket is only just beginning, for the unwieldy nature of the domestic season is not sustainable for any length of time, and what happens next is where the action is.


21 thoughts on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow

  1. CowCorner Jul 29, 2021 / 9:42 pm

    A really good read TLG. Captures lots of what I’m thinking about the current situation. I’m early to mid 30s. I’ve watched cricket since I was a kid, with it always being around me through family, school and friends. I like all formats of the game and am as yet undecided on the 100. I’m highly sceptical of it so far. I’m not sure what ‘box’ the ECB would put me in. I have 2 girls who I’d like to be interested in the game but I’m more likely at cricket (any format) with friends at the moment having a few beers. I’m as happy sitting watching a day of grind at a test match or sat in the Eric Hollies on Finals Day with a bunch of bananas in pyjamas hurtling past.

    I’m typing this while watching the London Posh Crisps vs.Trent Prawn Cocktail things. The kids are just about asleep and I’ve got half an hour’s peace. I won’t go out of my way to watch the 100 but I’m pleased to have some cricket to watch at a time when I’ve got a few minutes to spare. That said I’d happier be watching a county T20 or a 50 over game at this time of day and there are a huge amount of things that irritate me about the competition, from its inception to how it’s going now.

    I think again, it’s the total ham fisted, clumsy and, at times, mendacious approach that the ECB have taken to get to this point. I don’t hold the counties blameless either. Cricket needs to grow, and the Blast was growing. The KSL was also getting to be established. The Oval was sold out on Friday nights, Lords too on Thursdays. Away from the low hanging fruit of Central London, Somerset sold out Taunton, Sussex regularly sold out Hove, Essex Chelmsford too and even Kent at Canterbury were getting a fair few sell outs (and at Beckenham and Tunbridge Wells when they used the outgrounds too). Do the counties share knowledge amongst each other about how they’ve improved attendances?

    Attendances across the board were increasing year on year. So instead of backing and improving the product, the ECB seeks to effectively marginalise it. Again we’re back to FTA accessibility. Look what The Blast has done behind a paywall for 18 years, with FTA who knows? Could the KSL sides play games in double headers on weekend afternoons at each of their geographical county hosts?

    The communication has been horrific. Marginalise most of your existing support base, patronise your new fanbase. George Dobell was spot on in what he wrote. Over enthusiasm for everything. Mark Butcher and Tammy Beaumont broke ranks a little in commentary the other day, complaining about the pitch at Trent Bridge. A brief silence followed and Tammy quickly remarks how many happy and smiling faces were in the crowd.

    I hope the hundred succeeds in so much as bringing more participation into the sport. I’d hope it’ll become a T20 competition and `I’d hope you’d see more of the county involvement.

    Overall though, I would hope that the ECB and other interested stakeholders start treating each other with a bit more respect. (and by that I don’t actually mean respect the ECB, more sympathy for viewpoints and different drivers) The counties are important. They are the pathway for players. Test Cricket is important, the County Championship needs to be played in a half sensible timescale. At least 2 games in the hundred should be played at the county HQs that aren’t a major ground. E.g. Oval franchise also plays at Canterbury, Headingley also plays at Chester le Street etc. And move the Welsh Fire to either Bristol or Taunton. Keep the women’s double headers.

    On the flip side I’d also love it if some of the ‘stick in the mud’ unfriendliness that permeates some elements of county cricket would also show a bit of empathy the other way. And how some of this reluctance has in a small way driven the birth of the hundred and some of it’s more unpleasant attitudes to ‘legacy fans’. I get they have reason to be upset but I’m reminded of an occasion a few years ago at a Championship match where a young adult with learning difficulties was telling my friend and I in the bar queue about how pleased he was with his Kent shirt he’d just bought from the club shop. It was the One Day top. An older chap behind immediately jumped into our conversation completely uninvited to tell the guy that it wasn’t the proper cricket shirt and that it was the one day shirt. After the young guy moved on, I asked the bloke behind if he would rather the young lad wasn’t interested, because that’s the impression he just gave. He didn’t have an answer, he just prattled on about ‘proper cricket’. I’ve also been ticked off in the cheap seats at Lords by another duffer who decided to jump into our conversation uninvited for talking about football in the midst of a rain delay during the Euros.

    The Hundred is here. I’m not sure it’ll be successful. The crowds aren’t there at the moment. I do think the ECB has made a hash of it. In my stream of consciousness I’ve scratched at the surface of where I think the problem is but to sum up. More participation, more respect all round, particularly from ECB towers and hangers on. If that happens I’ll merely be worried rather than in despair a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marek Jul 29, 2021 / 11:35 pm

    Thank you TLG and Cowcorner (and anyone else who’s posted since I started writing this!) for your long and interesting viewpoints on this. (Btw, Cowcorner, you probably know, but there are some Royal London daynighters for you to watch in the evening on YouTube; there would have been today but for Essex’s habitually misfiring batting line-up torpedoing your viewing choice!)

    The Morshead article was interesting–but I have to say that I’m not that impressed by what s/he found. My reaction was: I would bloody well hope so, given that the ECB have frittered away 97% of their gigantic cash reserves on promoting this tournament before it started. With that amount of money thrown at it, frankly I would have expected every single ticket available to have been bought in advance, viewing figures up there with something like Wimbledon if not the Euros, and for every single household in the country to have witnessed a conversation about it.

    And that’s the real rub. The people talking about the Hundred only in terms of the cricket are–often, I suspect, wilfully–ignoring the collateral damage it will cause. It’s like measuring Guantanamo by how innovative the architecture was.

    I’m not especially opposed to the Hundred as a cricket tournament per se. I think a lot of baloney has been spouted about how damaging the change in format has been…but as far as I can see it’s a good deal LESS radical than the John Player League was. That, after all, lopped 33% rather than 16 off a standard-length match (and people often forget that there WAS no set length for a JPL match either: it depended on how long the first team took to bowl its overs); it shoehorned players with run-ups like Bob Willis, Wayne Daniel and Mike Procter into bowling off twelve paces, its timings were dictated with absolute precision by TV schedules, and I think it was the first tournament to radically redefine what constituted a wide, which was essentially to make it easier for batters to score).

    As you suggest, TLG, it has features that might be usefully incorporated into other formats. Want to speed up overrates? Change ends every two (or four, or eight!) overs. Want a scorecard that reflects the important points of a modern match? Replace the maidens column with dot balls for T20s (I notice the West Indies live-stream is already doing this).

    And I’m not convinced that city franchises per se have to spell the end of county cricket. It’s clear that there are people who have more affinity for any of a number of reasons with their city than their county–notwithstanding that the choice of locations for the cities is laughably nepotistic: is Cardiff seriously a better choice than Bristol, or Southampton than Chester-le-Street/Newcastle? As you suggest, Cowcorner, it might also provide a needed kick up the arse to some of the counties’ complacency…not least about money (it drives me up the wall when people go on about about how wonderfully successful the Blast is when its average attendance is only a capacity crowd at about a quarter of the county grounds. That’s an awful lot of unsold seats to enable counties to pay barely-international-standard players £140K salaries (hello Hardus Viljoen!)

    But in the end I’m one of the colonels wanting the Hundred to fail, and to fail fast. That’s because the ECB has set this up as a war on the county game–and let us not forget that this was not a war that “legacy” cricket fans asked for, it was one that Harrison, Patel, Graves, Hollins et al foisted on them–, from the obscenely gigantic disparity in spending on the various competitions to the open and sustained hostility to the people who have kept the game going for decades to the bullying of counties who dared have reservations about this to the apparent bribery of counties to vote themselves into semi-irrelevance with annual payments which were then not written into the Hundred’s balance sheet. (In comparison, the new fans seem to have been lured in by promises of cricketainment rather than cricket per se, so who knows if they’ll still be there when they’re 64 and some other branch of entertainment is offering them a better night out. Where, for that matter, will franchises with no academies and no grounds get their players or play their matches if every county not owned by a sympathetic millionaire goes bust?)

    So, unless the ECB radically changes its attitude and views the Hundred as an addition to the English cricketing landscape rather than as a way–which is not only cruel but unbelievably stupid financially–to run counties into the ground, then to my mind it needs to be opposed, not merely acquiesced to. That’s because the ECB have, apparently quite deliberately, set it up as an either/or option: with this disparity in funding, it’s EITHER the Hundred OR literally every other form of professional cricket in England (including, in anything except the short term, test cricket). And then where will be, with England’s future T20 internationals being produced by an amateur or at best semi-professional game and half the grounds in the country sold off for flats because it’s a better way to pay off Kent’s (or for that matter Warwickshire’s) debts than leasing them back to Hundred teams to play on four times a year?

    So I’m not at all convinced that it really is a coherent position to have reservations about the Huindred but to be passively supporting it by, for example, watching it. I suspect that that will be a bit like wanting to buy dirt-cheap Nike trainers produced in Indonesian sweatshops AND want to have fair treatment of workers. The two are not unrelated. (It’s also, of course, why using arguments about the cricketing value of the Hundred is totally meaningless, just as the quality of the leather doesn’t affect the Indonesian sweatshop workers when they’re dying in their factory fire).

    And, as for the “women’s game” argument–sorry, but don’t get me started. I think that’s an enormous, and for some of its proponents disingenuous, red herring. Sure the women’s Hundred games have been high-profile…but if the ECB had poured £72m over three years into the KSL or the Charlotte Edwards Cup (and yes, what the ECB have essentially done is to sell everybody something they already had, a non-county short-format competition, and pretend they’re buying somethig new).

    Not to mention what several tens of millions and some FTA slots might have done for the Blast, which already has a fanbase. As Dobell pointed out, it’s really just smoke and mirrors and snake-oil salespeople–but there’s a very real risk that it will cannibalise every aspect of the existing game…so, although in the short-term, supporting the Hundred might seem like supporting the game of cricket in general and giving it a new lease of life, in anything but the short-term it carries a substantial risk of doing precisly the opposite.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dArthez Jul 30, 2021 / 4:12 am

      That is my take on it as well.

      Sure the women get much more visibility – and that is good. But simply getting the KSL on FTA would have done the same, and would not have to cost much; all the women players could have been paid as professionals (even if it is just for the duration of the league – even now there are over a dozen women playing as amateurs in the Hundred). Surely, with 72 million in reserves, a few thousand quid as a salary to each of these women should not be unaffordable. I would not be surprised if Mr. Harrison makes more from his ECB salary than most women’s teams do combined!

      Also I fail to see much evidence of international interest because of the “shorter” format (honestly would not be surprised if a Hundred innings takes about 75 minutes, rather than the promised 65), and reducing a T20 to a 90-ball slogathon would be more palatable for most cricket followers. The gimmicks are simply irritating for those who watch for the actual cricket. And without the gimmicks, well, it is just a 16.4 – match reduced to 100 balls by broadcaster demands (even if that is misleading since the BBC signed up for a T20 tournament).

      Some of the broadcasting / scorecard keeping had already focused on dot balls rather than maidens. So even the inability of the Hundred to define an over as a 5-ball event has not really led to an innovation there, even if it may speed up the process elsewhere (I am doubtful though – even among my online friends from across the world, who follow pretty much every T20 league, the Hundred is the one they are openly hostile to, and no this is not an anti-England thing, since they did watch the Blast / One Day Cup games when they were on).

      As for the music acts, sure it may work for some of the kids (others would actually run away, just as loud rap, hip hop or heavy metal will be seen as a request to many a shopper to not frequent a particular clothing store). It also betrays a gross distrust in your actual “product”, when you have to rely on music, fireworks, etc. to get the crowd in.

      But the ECB have set themselves up nicely, with a “too big to fail” tournament that no one asked for, no one needed. And yet whatever the outcome of the Hundred will be: both success and failure will be a monumental catastrophe.


      • thelegglance Jul 30, 2021 / 8:55 am

        They did the music and fireworks when T20 started too. It fell by the wayside pretty quickly, because, well people came to see cricket.


        • dArthez Jul 30, 2021 / 11:29 am

          True, but if you don’t offer them (to scare away the male adults), then what would strongly compel women and children to visit, compared to the Blast (and of course the KSL which was cancelled for this)?


          • thelegglance Jul 30, 2021 / 11:35 am

            I hope you’re not daring to suggest a lack of faith in their own product? For shame sir!


  3. Aden Jul 30, 2021 / 9:06 am

    I am keen not to go over old ground here so will just try and give an alternative point of view which is different from the fans I hope. I haven’t watched much Hundred not because I really hate it but because I spend as much as I can playing cricket at pretty much any opportunity now matter how far the journey or how poor the standard. I totally respect the treatment of County Fans and the reservations George et al have about future England Teams. The new tournament being a success to be is more kids on Friday night at my club, increased women’s soft and hard ball interest and less chasing around to fill 2 sides on Saturdays, it looks at the moment like it might help my goals. Although I nominally support a county I never go (because why would I if I can play) and many people I play with are the same there isn’t a single avid county follower in my club’s Saturday team if anything its IPL and PSL that dominate the chats. My fear is more abstract in the Olympics the lottery funding have been lauded as improving GB’s medal tally which it undoubtedly has England Cricket, Football and both rugby codes have reached world cup finals also but in the same time participation in sports have gone down I don’t want to live in an American or Australian world of only people who are good play and the rest don’t and then are subject to the health issues that come with that. Even if the Hundred gives our club 3 more players or 3 more people who play 60% of games as opposed to 30% then I am happy. It has a lot to go and the coverage is symptomatic of the ECB’s blinkers I would point out although those shots of “inner city” kids playing on streets and 5 a side cages are true many of them play real competitive Saturday cricket in some of the best leagues in the country but despite this will never even be looked at by a county scout (if they even exist) those adverts to me do give a slightly blinkered view of what club and amateur cricket is in England and Wales.

    Despite all the doom and gloom about participation cricket is still very popular and where I live in South Yorkshire and where I am from in the Black Country (not to mention Lancashire, Eastern Counties and Kent/Surrey) it is still the national summer game but unlike football the majority of players don’t support a county unlike football where everyone follows a team the ECB are trying to tap this as well as total cricket newcomers maybe they are going about in in a clumsy way.

    Nothing will chance overnight and the team will remain white public school boys for years to come but hopefully the pool of players who are talented playing each week in ECB Prem leagues can be looked at and maybe new sides not as tied down by counties or their academy systems might pick someone from a ECB premier league to play a Hundred game?

    I agree with many fans the ECB haven’t gone about this the right way but I don’t always agree from my vantage point of a club cricketer about the engagement arguments but as you say it about listening not creating a divide, in the meantime maybe when padding up on Saturday more people will mention top women’s players or shift their attention temporarily from the PSL and IPL.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mark Jul 30, 2021 / 1:38 pm

    Some will not like this so perhaps don’t read if you are easily offended. There now follows a party political broadcast on behalf of an old Gammon git.

    With all due respect Legglance’s piece is far to nice, and tries to appease everybody. I’m afraid its too late for that.

    The reality is this competition has become political, and not just cricket politics. It’s supporters have taken on the Woke agenda, and seem to enjoy not just supporting their cause, (no problem with that) but revel in demonising traditionalists in the same way they attack people who don’t share their politics.

    The term “Gammons” is now used as abuse (dare I say hate) to describe anyone who is white, one degree to the right of Joseph Stalin , and over 50. Mostly, comically, by prosperous, self loathing white liberals who genuinely seem to hate everything about their country. If the ECB really wants to seek common ground, I would caution them from hiding behind people who call opponents “gammons and fascists” , and hate everybody who does not live in the big cities. It is not likely to win people over.

    This is a war on county cricket. And the ECB is leading it with its woke new friends at the BBC. It is no surprise to hear that the BBC wanted nothing to do with anything connected to the counties as they are seen as everything liberal millionaires at the BBC despise. According to the pious BBC, even gardening is now racist. The BBC wants to turn everything woke. Its dramas, its comedies , and now its sport. Have you watched their terrible Olympic coverage? I see the BBC has now dropped the female Dr Who because the audience figures went down the toilet. Apparently every episode bashes you over the head with a woke side salad agenda. Of course the BBC can get way with this because they are funded by taxation stolen from their customers with the threat of a prison sentence if you don’t pay up. The BBC then uses that money (like every communist state) to enrich itself and its friends with giant salaries, and a Pravda propaganda while pretending they are doing it for the little people.

    They have made it clear they hate people like me. Why should I make common ground with people who openly say they can’t wait for us to die off? How strange they lecture us to be “nice and tolerant?”

    The ECB made it clear this tournament was not for the likes of me. It was for a younger generation, and for a new audience who claimed they liked cricket, but didn’t like cricket the way it was played. They couldn’t quite define who these people were, but apparently their surveys told them there were millions of them. Perhaps they are same Twitter people who told the BBC they wanted a new woke Dr Who?

    They have uprooted all cricket for this new Shinny toy (no wonder the real Shinny toy is shrilling for it. ) And as far as I’m concerned they are welcome to it. The ECB removed all live cricket from free to air 16 years ago, and denounced anyone who suggested it wasn’t a good idea for growing the game. Now they pretend they are geniuses because they have concluded that free to air is a good thing after all. Yet they still blame those of us who warned them at the time.

    They denounce and laugh at those who now warn of the consequence of destroying country cricket, and the knock on effect that will have on Test cricket. Perhaps their new baby will grow to such a size that Sky will pay enormous amounts to buy the rights in the future. (How ironic if it becomes so popular it goes back behind a pay wall? Perhaps that’s the real agenda? The BBC screwed over like before? ) Never mind, I’m sure the ECB will then invent the Ten10 to save cricket again. Thing is, they will need the money….. because if test cricket goes down the pan I can’t imagine Sky will be giving them hundreds of millions for the coverage of three day test matches with England regularly bowled out for 150.

    As I say, I’m not interested in the hundred, and won’t watch it , and won’t pay for tickets, though I have grave concerns about the consequences of what it will do to the cricket I still prefer. I also have conspiracy theories that the ECBs long term goal is the deliberate destruction of county cricket because they believe, and maybe rightly that Test cricket is doomed long term, and so the hundred is the only way they can stay funded and enjoying their unearned ludicrous salaries. No wonder they have teamed up with the freeloader suits at the BBC.

    So why can’t they just leave people like me alone, and enjoy their new folly without attacking and bothering us? Well, apparently they want our money, and think we have some obligation to fund their new hoopla. They seem to believe for some strange reason, that I, and people like me should be obliged to cough up for something we don’t like, don’t want, (Sounds rather like the BBC model) and that we should be nice and friendly to people who call us Nazis and can’t wait for us to pop our clogs.

    Well no, I won’t. You hate my guts, and I will keep my money and spend it elsewhere. You said you had a new audience, so sell them the tickets instead. Stop blaming me for the fact the grounds are not full,and you are having to give many of the tickets away for free. For once in your life actually grow the game for real, and not just as a marketing exercise. Oh, and stop shitting on those who have supported the game financially for the last sixty years. We owe you nothing.


    • thelegglance Jul 30, 2021 / 2:43 pm

      Just a note Mark – I’ve not appeased anyone, I’ve gone through my own thoughts, which can be agreed or disagreed with freely.


    • Miami Dad's Six Jul 30, 2021 / 9:19 pm

      There is a weird “Woke vs Gammon” thing on social media that seems to have largely bypassed any of my experiences when meeting people in real life.

      As someone who leans a different way politically to you, Mark, I don’t like the cHundred and am looking forward to it sinking. The only shame is that I don’t expect any plucky CEOs to go down with it as in the Stanford debacle.


    • Marek Jul 30, 2021 / 10:19 pm

      It’s a real shame that you’ve drowned some perfectly good points about the Hundred and the defences of it in a vomit of logic-free ranting which just seems to reproduce some of the wilder, more vacuous inanity and conspiracy theorising of the Daily Mail like they’re not-to-be-contested passages from the Bible or the Koran. Mainly because it makes it much less likely that people–including some people who agree with your cricketing points but are totally put off by the aggression, the rudeness and the simplistic ad hominems–are likely to take those cricketing points seriously. (Although of course, as Cowcorner points out above, such exclusivity can cut both ways!)

      Of course, it also does exactly what you’re complaining about other people doing–demonising people who don’t share your politics and waving around vaguely-defined words and stereotypes as terms of abuse like they’re a machete.


    • CNHorton Aug 2, 2021 / 11:29 pm

      I hope you’re getting a £ every time you say you “woke”, as that’s the only way your comment makes any sense to me.


  5. CowCorner Jul 31, 2021 / 2:16 pm

    In linked matters, KP has been tweeting about franchising the red ball cricket. He’s clearly just talking out loud, as he often does but it has certainly stirred up the hornets nest. Winning friends by effectively saying that half the players in the CC are poor, the idea that immediately less of something will improve standards is a curious English cricket approach to a problem. Why will less automatically lead to a higher standard? If counties are no longer playing FC cricket, who scouts and develops the players? Also – which counties do you effectively chop? What many of these proponents mean is that the non-International grounds will be dropped but they can’t actually bring themselves to say it.

    City Franchises are mentioned again… of course. So based on recent performance, say the last completed championship before the COVID impact the 8 centres of excellence will be Chelmsford, Taunton, Southampton, Canterbury… Oh dear. Quick, surely Cardiff!

    I’m certainly not saying that the CC is fine but the biggest problem is that it’s pushed to the edges of the season, played in conditions that are uniquely English. I’m actually not opposed to 3 groups of 6 with a play off system, sort of similar to what we have for the Bob Willis in 2021 with a knock out round or two to follow but not this immediate idea that we should bin off more counties as if this is the immediate answer to everything.


    • thelegglance Jul 31, 2021 / 2:45 pm

      I am struggling to see how a franchise system would *improve* the red ball game in itself. There are many things that would need to happen alongside it for that to be possible – the problem with Pietersen’s argument is not that it isn’t possible, it’s that there’s no indication that what is needed to make it work would ever happen.


    • Marek Aug 2, 2021 / 10:12 pm

      Surely the logic of the less is better argument is simply that you concentrate the top talent into fewer teams–which seems perfectly good logic to me. That is–if you have eight teams then you have the best 88 players playing in the first teams; if you have eighteen then you have the best 88 plus 110 other (that is, less good) players.

      I would have thought the crucial question is not whether it would raise the standard of the matches that are played in the resultant competition (it really should unless something’s gone badly wrong), but whether this is a desirable outcome for the game as a whole rather than the narrow view of making the standard as high as possible. That would take into account all kinds of other factors, some of which have been mentioned by both Cowcorner and Glenn.

      It’s an interesting question–after all the number of teams isn’t the same as when I was born, it’s largely a matter of historical accident, many of them represent areas which haven’t existed for almost half a century and which if they do often don’t include the place where the county ground is located, and different countries have different ratios of teams to population (it’s quite a bit “worse” in South Africa, for example, and about 35 times “worse” in India, around the same in Australia, and much “better” anywhere where the population is small enough for a similar ratio to give an absurdly small number of teams.) But I agree that this doesn’t mean the answer should definitely be “reduce the number of teams”.

      Maybe–obviously not as a result of competence!–the ECB has hit on quite a good solution: have a franchise competition AND a county system. After all, it works in India and Australia and I suspect it will in Pakistan once people start accepting the new f-c structure.


      • CowCorner Aug 3, 2021 / 1:58 pm

        As you say Marek, in theory the standard would improve with playing/coaching/financial resources concentrated in the 8 teams. I’d just be worried that the talented youngsters, miles away from an HQ would need even more commited parents than they already do to drive them hours and hours every week, let alone the impact that doing those journeys incessantly could have on the kid’s school work. I’m going down a specific avenue here but from knowing a few guys who did the trek to and from our county HQ at the other end of the county from home, it took it out of them and their families. Neither of them ‘made it’ in the end.

        I agree with you that they may (emphasis on may) stumble on the solution of franchises and counties having different roles. Sadly, thanks to Costcutter and friends and the continuing lack of competence from those in authority, the likelihood of a concerted move forward is pretty small.


  6. glenn Aug 1, 2021 / 12:50 pm

    If they had franchise domestic cricket with fewer teams, no one would be able to go see matches as Essex, Kent, Somerset fan etc would have no team?


  7. Miami Dad's Six Aug 2, 2021 / 12:20 pm

    Ben Stokes has withdrawn from cricket indefinitely for mental health reasons. Just two games of the wanky Hundred for the “Superchargers” and he’s out of there. I’m guessing it’s the graphics overload and the need for his diet to consist solely of Popchips…

    Seriously, though – a bit of time to recharge at home instead of within the ECB nerd bubbles could have worked wonders for plenty of the squad this year. Even in some of his scheduled downtime he was drafted in late to captain England B against Pakistan, stating “when a job calls, you need to stand up”. Ben, ya really don’t. They won’t back you if they decide they don’t want to – look at your buddy Hales.

    I’m no epidemiologist, and I lean towards “safer than sorry” when it comes to societal COVID restrictions (on the basis that the earlier you put them in place the quicker you can end them) – but I do wonder if the relaxation of some COVID rules might be sensible for these top level tours. A player needing 2 weeks quarantine before joining a bubble basically means that you need a grossly oversized squad from the outset, half of whom probably won’t do anything. Why not a coupla days quarantine bookended by negative PCR tests, or an equivalent? It’d mean that for the India tour last winter someone like Chris Woakes could have just been on standby at home rather than doing all the travelling and preparation just to play Xbox in his hotel room for 2 months. It might also have meant Bracey wouldn’t have nerded his way into the back up wicket keeper spot last summer.


    • Marek Aug 2, 2021 / 10:33 pm

      I suspect it’s more complicated than that in Stokes’s case: after all, he’s had more downtime than virtually any other frontline England player this year by virtue of the fact that he’s been injured and had two months out completely. It’s also easy to forget that he’s very recently lost a father to whom he was clearly very close and who died prematurely and fairly quickly.

      I can also imagine a lot of players are getting near the end of their tolerance of bubbles (sorry, managed playing regimes or whatever Ashley Giles has told them they are). And in the case of an all-format player with an IPL deal, starting this week the next non-bubbled day they’re going to have is basically the foourth week of January.

      One thing strikes me very clearly here, although it’s clearly not directly relevant to Stokes: the NZ series was a really stupid idea (and yes, the ECB have lost a lot of money because of Covid but they’re also sitting on a gigantic TV rights deal…not to mention–see posts above!!–that there was a very easy way for them to have saved £130m or so between 2018 and 2025). But it’s part of a relentless schedule which is going to have to be relaxed unless we want teams with no crossover at all between red-ball and white-ball or lots of players retiring when they’re 30. (And there’s no let-up in sight partly because England have now postponed their last three ODI series, all of which will have to be replayed in the next 14 months or so).


      • dArthez Aug 3, 2021 / 2:07 am

        England are lucky that they have 450 professional players to pick from if you’re going to avoid cross overs for mental health reasons. Which would be fully understandable of course. Now, try that in say the West Indies or New Zealand, and see if you can put together a competitive side in all three formats, if there is no crossover.

        Something has got to give.

        And honestly, as much as I loathe Stokes, if he is feeling that he needs to take a break, let him take a break. Mental health is extremely important, and I do think that athletes in the pursuit of their sporting goals tend to lose track of that, the progress in the last few years notwithstanding.


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