So the ECB have named the teams. The team in Cardiff have changed their name from Welsh fire to Western Fire, not because the original name sounded like the provisional wing of Plaid Cymru but because the good people of Somerset and Gloucestershire felt isolated. Saying that, Somerset fans have been the most vocal about the whole tournament. A fantastically well run county, their loyal following aren't going to make the trip to Cardiff. Why? Because it isn't Somerset. I know one regular reader in South Wales who won't go and watch either. What affiliation does he have to a made up team? There are hundreds like him.
It is the same reason that other county fans have been marginalised. The ECB look like they want an eight team system, similar to the State system in Australia. Years of history and loyalty will go by the wayside. Some counties may have small attendances but trust me, there are fans of Northamptonshire who are as fanatical as the most one eyed Yorkshire man. Certain counties will struggle as the ECB promotes this inferior product instead of concentrating on their fanbase.
Talking of the State system, it seems you have to be from the south of the equator to get a coaching role in this gig. The counter argument is that all the English coaches are wrapped up with their counties and therefore cannot take another job. Au contraire, Rodney. I know of a number of excellent coaches who haven't even been considered. Shane Warne is one who will be employed despite his reservations about the tournament last year. Gary Kirsten is another employed in Cardiff in a decision that seems baffling to fans of Gloucestershire and Somerset.
|Looking for a coaching gig?|
Then there is the marketing. An increase in spend of astronomical figures has dented the ECB coffers somewhat. 13 million had risen to 40 million quid with marketing campaigns on social media not exactly going through the roof to put it mildly. God knows what the eventual figure will be but surely fans have a right to know? Saying that, with the majority of supporters being so opposed to this new format, I can only imagine trying to market the game would be marginally better than being a fluffer.
We have a competition similar which is thriving with the Vitality Blast. Essex have sold out every game. Middlesex have had around 27,000 watching their matches at Lord's and success stories can be told in most venues. It is a competition about to be diluted for another. If a landlord watered down his beer to serve alcopops, the regulars would soon leave for another venue. I fear this will happen to cricket here. I've been to watch my team Middlesex at Lord's because they represent where I grew up in North London.
All county cricket should be geared towards the England team. This is the pinnacle. Yet struggles with the bat in recent years due to scheduling in my opinion will only get worse as four day cricket gets shunted to either end of the season. Spinners who winkle a side out could well be a thing of the past, as flat darts aimed at middle and leg become the norm.
The figures of people watching county cricket on live streams are decent. Many can't get to games as weekends are bereft of cricket but the interest is still there. We have a decent product with a decent fan base. We are gambling that product away in favour of the new competition which is why I think it is a huge risk.
|A packed house at Lord's for the Vitality Blast|
I try and counter arguments on these pages by writing some positives along with negatives. Apart from being shown on terrestrial television I can't think of any. It's the Take Me Out/Love Island/Big Brother of our game; dumbed down rubbish. Ant and Dec will no doubt present it. It will be packaged, hyped up and stands will be empty unless they give tickets away. If it is not too late ECB, please change your mind. I reckon about nine out of ten cricket fans don't want this competition.
In the words of Andy Townsend, another of ITV's finest..."Not for me, Clive".