Fear not, this isn't the start of a multi-part series of posts, merely a word or two on the first phase of the ECB's partial restructuring of County Cricket. They announced today that the Twenty20 Cup would be significantly scaled down while the County Championship will remain untouched. Good news, right?
Yes, I think so. There is no question in my mind that there was too much Twenty20 last year, crowds at the Oval rarely (if ever) made it into five figures where just a few years ago a sell out was not unusual. The atmosphere at the Oval suffered as a result, and not just because at the outset Surrey were very poor indeed. In fact the best atmosphere I recall was the Kent vs Essex game.
Where most cricket fans can happily sit amongst only a couple of hundred or so fellow die hards through a day of a Championship match I think most would acknowledge that a Twenty20 match benefits from the atmosphere created by a large crowd. And of course five matches attracting 20,000 people is far better than 10 matches attracting 6,000. For those reasons I think the reduction in games is a good thing.
The smaller counties who benefit most from the 2010/11 Twenty20 Cup set up are obviously disappointed, Kent's CEO Jamie Clifford has made clear his position. The ECB anticipated these reactions and have pledged a package of financial measures presumably to offset any losses that the smaller counties might incur because of the changes.
Furthermore that the ECB has now firmly marked its card where the issue of primacy of test/four day cricket over Twenty20 can only be a good thing. The debate over 40 or 50 over cricket rages on and a decision on that is due in May. I personally prefer the 40 over format but recognise that there's little point in keeping it as such if the international game is going to stay at 50 overs.
The ECB has done right by the majority without severely penalising the minority with this restructuring and that's extremely positive - long may it continue!
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