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The Future of County Cricket
I was lucky enough to chair a round table discussion involving four of Deep Extra Cover's youngest and brightest journalists. Their views give the lie to the idea that all those who love county cricket are (like me) ancient and decrepit:
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Thanks Terry I like a lot of what was said there.

You know, I reckon September could be a cracking month for a T20 competition. Look how nice and sunny it is these past few weeks. Septembers are often a nice month.

Play all the other cricket May to August then T20 in September.
Very interesting, Terry. Many thanks for sharing it with us. I like a lot of the views expressed especially playing T20 during school holidays although Friday night games in school timeshould not be a problem.
LE - aka John
Here's part two of the discussion:
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What a remarkably clear-headed discussion! This sets out beautifully what a moronic idea franchised T20 would be. I would welcome a response from MrCostcutter as to just why he is right and your discussants are wrong.
Yes, I was tremendously impressed that these young people had such clearly thought through ideas; and their passion for the game shines through.
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Some interesting opinions.

However, the notion of going back to a block of T20 games still rankles with me.

You are then very much at the mercy of the capricious English summer weather.

You will be going back to the concept of 2-3 games played in a week. For many people, once a week battling rush-hour traffic around the county grounds is enough - it is for me and I'm retired now! Can't see that asking casual punters to do the same whilst stumping up £25 a go is a goer.

Agree, that the 50 over comp has zero traction with both punters and players alike. We seem to be saddled with this over-long and boring competition purely at the behest of the England team management. Yet few of the international players ever appear for their counties.

This could easily be reduced to say 4 groups with around 5-6 games played. That's about the same amount that's played in the domestic 50 over comp in Oz and it doesn't seem to have throttled their development.

For me, it's about scheduling. Keep the current schedule but arrange the T20 groups on the same basis as the CC to cut down on travelling. OK we'd lose out on the odd local derby but if T20 is as popular as the ECB seems to think it is the punters will flock in anyway.

Oh and yes - next time the ECB plans to muck about with the structure and schedule how about surveying the people that stump up year on year for memberships, rather than relying on those that come once a year?
I totally agree with Grizzly. Amazingly the four taking part seemed to agree on just about everything except for starting the season overseas!

Given their ages this paper should be passed to ECB with a request that someone there actually takes note of their views. Us wrinklies and crinklies are not so out of touch with modern life after all!!
LE - aka John
"for the most part, it works, and I don’t feel that any radical changes are needed. A few tweaks, such as the adjustment of the 50-over competition, are necessary for the long-term development of the game, but the biggest issue is scheduling, rather than the amount of cricket."

I agree mostly with Bradley about this. No major changes needed in my opinion. Reduce 50-over matches a little bit as Dave suggested above, four groups of 5 followed by quarters, semis and final is ample.

Sunday starts in most Championship games has helped bring some people into the ground who work Monday to Friday. Friday night T20 has worked, perhaps just push it back a few weeks so it starts in June rather than May.

I really do not want blocks of T20 which would deprive folks of the longer forms of the game for a month or 6 weeks at a time. I don't buy the "skill levels" argument that some players have mentioned about switching between formats.

Let's cut to the chase. Sky TV want a solid 8 week T20 block to show in June and July. They want to show games almost every night during the week and on Saturday and Sunday afternoons when there is no test match/ODI.

The players have been told to parrot this line about "the hassle of switching formats" presumably by the PCA under pressure from the broadcaster so they can get away with reducing the Championship against the wishes of most cricket watchers. This will come up again next season and cricket fans need to lobby as vociferously as they have done this year in order to prevent such drastic reductions.
I certainly cant aford to go to three T20 games a week... both in terms of money and time. As for domestic 50 overs cricket.... will it financially kill a county before it finally gets scrapped? Perhaps we should reduce the amount of fifty overs cricket... to forty? To be fair im only interested in the four day game and T20.... so perhaps i'm being unfair.

Scheduling is key.... to often Summer weekends seem devoid of any form of cricket. Indeed limited overs cricket on a sunday now seems to have been consined to the dust bin of history. ...

Finally the Derbys and Leics dicotimy.... 9 wooden spoons out of the last 10 in the championship adds little value. What do we do? If we keep them how do we strengthen them.... or do we scrap and bring in new counties (like Devon / Cornwall and Norfolk / Suffolk) to expand the championship to exciting new areas... Like Durham nearly three decades ago?
Yorkshire report a dramatic increase in attendances across all formats:
Championship attendances up 47%
Royal London up 87%
T20 Blast up 19%
It will be interesting to see what other counties report.
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The idea of playing T20 in a block does sound attractive especially aimed at attracting media coverage. However, I agree with WB - it will have an adverse effect on gates if people are expected to pay for two games a week. Even having 1 game every week for a month/six weeks would be too much unless some form of discounting existed. Perhaps kids accompanied by adults could be free.
LE - aka John
More attendance increases reported by Surrey:
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To average nearly 20k in the t20 thats very good. Guess London will always get the larger attendances.

The phrase "If it ain't broke don't fix it" comes to mind
LE - aka John
Excellent news about T20 attendances.... the money generated and the interest are crucial to many counties.

Here is a combined table of every 4 day two division championship – awarding 1 point for first and so on. It runs from the turn of the century to and including this season so to iron out any blips. The excellent news is that Warwickshire tops it!

Warwickshire 86
Lancashire 88
Sussex 92
Yorkshire 106
Nottinghamshire 112
Somerset 122
Durham 122
Surrey 125
Hampshire 131

Kent 137
Middlesex 152
Worcestershire 175
Essex 191
Northamptonshire 198
Leicestershire 219
Gloucestershire 223
Glamorgan 225
Derbyshire 235

However, the elephant in the room is how we strengthen the championship? There are now big gaps forming which could put the championship at risk. What do we do with the perennial under achievers? Derbyshire and Leicestershire share a significant proportion of wooden spoons. The top tier of the championship is now loosely based on test match venues. Do we put more funding into teams like Derbys? Do we cut the championship to say 14 teams? Do we replace a couple of teams with new combined teams to expand the game (e.g. Cornwall and Devon – Norfolk and Suffolk)? Do we do nothing?

Interesting questions but difficult questions….
We certainly don't cut the championship to 14 games!
Thanks for that, Warley.
It does rather look as though there is a natural divide between 1st and 2nd division counties. Swap Middlesex for Sussex in your top table and you have next year's 1st division.
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Warley, Seeing how Gloucs and Glam are below them - why do you keep picking on Leics :-)
LE - aka John
I dont... we either stregthen them or cut them. 9 wooden spoons between Derbys and Leics in a decade isnt great. Personally I would swing the axe and bring in new blood to expand the game into new areas rather than cutting back the number of counties. .. I fear the latter though eventually...

Anyway... i dont want to be the poison pixy for raising a different and possibly unpopular point. ;-)

I thought the table was interesting. .. I suspected Warwickshire would be near the top... but first, despite our current concerns, is excellent. Terrys point is also interesting. .. It will a very strong division one next year...

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