June 27, 2007

English cricket

Louts threaten to gatecrash Twenty20 party

Martin Williamson

In The Daily Telegraph Derek Pringle warns that the success of Twenty20 cricket is bringing its own set of problems with growing worries about the behaviour of crowds. And the authorities, quick to clamp down on players, are not so proactive when it comes to tackling fans.

Cricket, despite its genteel image of bucolic charm, is not immune from oiks, so we are not talking about the end of innocence here. But part of Twenty20's mission statement was to attract a new audience and many reckon that, along with the rise in the number of women and children at matches, there is a growing boorish element.

At Essex's match against Sussex last Friday, regulars spoke of a section singing ribald football-style songs, a new departure at Chelmsford even for Twenty20. Nothing wrong there you might think, the Barmy Army have been doing it for ages, but with alcohol available for long periods and minimal policing, some feel it is a tinderbox just waiting to be sparked.

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Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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