Tuesday, 22 March 2011

County Cricket's revised structure: Part One

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!


Symo said...

I am quite impressed that, for once, cricketing authorities seem to have done the sensible thing!

I was worried they were going to reduce the Championship schedule, but I'm pleased they haven't because the structure as it is works well.

The T20 has just become too bloated - and the amount of games means it becomes more difficult to follow too, and last season it felt like a bit of a slog at times. There were some interesting comments from Adil Rashid in Wisden this month saying in Australia, where he's been playing T20 over the winter, there's a real sense of anticipation leading up to the games and a real intensity when you play in them - because there are less of them. The current T20 format doesn't allow any anticipation to build in the group stage and I'm sure some intensity is lost.

Bring on 2012! (that said don't want 2011 to go too quickly!)

PS. In that same Wisden magazine they did a survey of coaches and pundits - 6 out of 17 county coaches chose Surrey to win Div 2 of Championship (more votes than any other team) as did 8 out of 11 pundits! I hope they're right!

GreenJJ said...

Afternoon Symo,

Couldn't agree more, 'bloated' is absolutely the right word for the T20, what is it this year, 170 games or something? Crazy. Its just overkill, keeping the fans wanting more is the goal, that's how it used to be!

I have heard that about the Wisden survey, I still think that's a bit too much of a stretch for this year and such a young side - but we're also second favourites with the bookies, so some people somewhere are obviously confident!

David said...

I agree keeping the CC as per and reverting the T20 back to previous format is superb. For me, the CB40 should also return to the CB50 but unfortunately the only options are either keeping the current format or reverting back to the FPT style of 4 groups of 5 teams and a quarter-final stage. I can't understand how a reduction in T20 means no room for a q/f stage with the current CB40 format - that would be the best of all worlds. I like the 40 over game but the 50 over game is a proper one-day cricket match.

GreenJJ said...

Hi David

Think I agree with you, if the international game is to stay as 50 overs our domestic game should reflect that - though I used to think different I must admit!

I don't think the ECB have got it bang on just yet, but it is a movement in the right direction - and that's encouraging!