Monday, January 18, 2016

Saturday, January 09, 2016

English cricket needs to get its act together on T20 - or someone mightdo it for them !

Is T20 the monster that is devouring all other cricket in its path? The success of the IPL and the BBL and other city franchise based annual tournaments around the world suggests that it is. And when English cricket launches a similiar eight franchise tournament (as it inevitably will) in the English summer the process will be unstoppable. From April through September there is little cricket played in the world other than in the British Isles. A tournament involving, say,  six big city teams plus Ireland and Scotland would have the potential to be the best of all attracting all the top players from around the  world and of becoming the new heart of the English sporting summer. The BBL lasts just over four weeks. A similiar duration British tournament in, say, late July early August would boost cricket and provide spectacular entertainment. The matches of the BBL are sell-outs - a British equivalent would do the same. What's not to like ?

Well the problems are twofold. Firstly we play lots of Test Matches in the English summer. Seven this year . To accommodate a four week T20 event this would have to be reduced to four or five. Second there are the counties. The present 18 team (!) TwentyTwenty tournament in England is for the Counties. It has its moments of excitement but it is a poor old thing compared with the BBL and its like. We may have invented T20 in England but others have taken it and created models that work. In all cases these nations started again instead of trying to graft T20 onto their existing domestic cricket structure - structures  which were based on the very different three or four day two innings State or Regional model. England will have to do the same. And if that means fewer Test Matches and no county cricket for a month in the summer then so be it.

If a proper franchise based T20 system in Britain makes sense - but the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) still won't do it - maybe there's a media mogul out there who will? Remember how the rebel Kerry Packer dragged International cricket kicking and screaming into the Twentieth century? And the IPL (official) only happened to forestall the Indian Cricket League (unofficial) who were the innovators. It would be quite possible for a Rupert Murdoch to do the same for English T20. As with World Series Cricket the matches might be played in some non-traditional venues but it could be done. Far better that the ECB gets its act together than that a commercially driven rebel calls the tune. But they need to get a move on !