|The oldest festival in cricket at Cheltenham...but for how long?|
The scheduling of county cricket in this country has become a joke. So much so, that many members have had enough. The treatment of supporters as a commodity has pissed fans off from Hampshire to Durham as well as the other sixteen counties. Middle Stump follower, David Meers pointed out to me, "Our summer of Bank Holiday cricket in the UK has been as follows; Mon 7th May - Day 4 of 5 x County Games. Mon 28th May - Day 4 of 2 x Div 2 County Games. Mon 27th August - Zero cricket of any County Game. In addition there have been no England games either".
Eyebrows were raised at the start of the season with regards to the amount of County Championship games that have been crammed into April, early May and September apart from the odd one here or there, or heaven forbid, a pink ball game. The golden goose, our T20 competition has been put into a block in July and August, thus making the Championship a second class citizen. People can't take time off work that easily in the week but the weekend seems to be vacant, as far as being able to watch our summer game is concerned. This is killing the interest of cricket fans. So when you have no game on a Bank Holiday scheduled, is this the way to encourage memberships to be taken out?
If your local cinema only showed matinee performances you can bet your bottom dollar that it wouldn't last very long.
|Somerset fans have been given 500 tickets for the Blast finals|
It isn't just with County Cricket that the fans are getting shafted either. The four counties who have loyal followings, sitting through their T20 Blast campaigns have been given a grand total of 500 tickets each. What should be a fantastic occasion has left a sour taste for many fans who won't be able to watch their heroes who have got them to such a prestigious event. Except on television. And one that you have to subscribe to.
England's batting woes at present could well be down to the poor scheduling of the organisers in the ECB. Certainly if you are a county spinner and you come out for a few days in September, akin to a Daddy Longlegs, then it isn't going to induce you to bowl as you would in Test conditions. Bowling with flight, guile and men around the bat will become a dying art, instead we are seeing a plethora of flat, one day spinners not even trying to give it a rip. County cricket is the breeding ground, the talent pool that Test cricket fishes in. If the pond runs out of water, the bars at Test cricket don't run out of beer.
Many fans who are members or season ticket holders are furious. The Shires are revolting against the ECB and due to seeing a handful of games this summer, many have found their annual passes offering poor value for money - exactly the opposite of what they should be. In addition, the outground is dying out. A great way for counties to take their wares to far flung areas of their region, is about to become the dodo of the game as club grounds struggle to cope in April or September.
|A thing of the past?|
A quick snap poll on Twitter found that a quarter of supporters were considering giving up their membership. Another quarter were toying with the idea of one more year. Another quarter were happy to continue but unhappy with the scheduling.
The ECB have to do something about this and quickly. County chairmen have to make their point at the AGM. I know that the amount of people who attend games isn't hugely important these days in most sports, thanks to television rights, sponsorship deals and a host of off field revenue streams but the target audience is slowly dwindling and that is a huge issue for all of us who love the game. Fans have to come before money.
To misquote Bill Shankly, "Cricket without the fans, is nothing."