Friends Life t20, Sunday June 17
How to market T20
After a less-than-rapid start, this season’s FLt20 gains some belated momentum with seven fixtures on Sunday. In a rare example of good marketing, the tournament has been allowed to benefit from Father’s Day without competing with an England international. Even the weather appears in less obstructive mood.
Glamorgan have led the way in promoting today’s games. An innovative marketing campaign – including a Rugby vs Cricket video – has promoted their home opener against Warwickshire as ‘SWALEC Sunday’. The results have been spectacular, with over 13,000 tickets sold, breaking the previous record for a domestic match in Wales by 4,000. It all shows that, especially with the aid of Father’s Day, people will go to domestic Twenty20 if it is marketed properly.
Don’t forget the players
Glamorgan – or the Welsh Dragons, as they've styled themselves – also have a side worth marketing. Shaun Marsh’s T20 record – averaging 40 with a strike rate of 135 – marks him out as one of the world’s finest players in the format; Marcus North and Martin van Jaarsveld will also provide overseas quality to the batting.
But their bowling has a much stronger Welsh connection, with seamer James Harris and veteran spin twins Dean Cosker and Robert Croft all established T20 performers. Most importantly for Glamorgan’s chances of reaching finals day on their own ground will be Simon Jones. He has shown tentative steps of recovering his form since returning to Glamorgan this season, recently claiming 4 for 23 in a CB40 game against Durham. As with Shaun Tait, the limit to four overs frees Jones from the necessity to bowl within himself.
Somerset’s disruption Richard Levi and Albie Morkel are both excellent T20 players, as they showed in Somerset’s victory over Warwickshire. But both have now flown to Zimbabwe to participate in a T20 triangular series with Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, meaning they will both miss at least three fixtures. With Craig Kieswetter now engaged with England, half of Somerset’s top six will have to change for their game with Northamptonshire.
In similar circumstances in the Champions League last September, Peter Trego excelled when pushed up to open, notably scoring 70 against Kolkata Knight Riders. Unavailability should also give Kevin O’Brien a greater opportunity than against Warwickshire, when he did not come in until the 19th over. With elder brother Niall playing for Northants, it is one he will be eager to seize.
Yorkshire need not despair Yorkshire may have been suffered an agonising two-run defeat to Durham on Friday night but they showed resilience to recover from 42 for 5, with Richard Pyrah, Gerard Brophy and Azeem Rafiq all contributing. Despite that top-order collapse, their top five retains a powerful look, with Andrew Gale, Phil Jaques, David Miller, Gary Balance and Joe Root all eminently capable T20 cricketers.
In Ryan Sidebottom and Mitchell Starc – the latter increasingly justifying why Yorkshire were so keen to recruit him – they have two skilled left-arm quicks, which can be important in T20, while Moin Ashraf offers a right-arm contrast. Rafiq’s offspin is useful, too; and if Adil Rashid could rediscover his confidence with the ball, Yorkshire’s attack would become both more varied and dangerous. But, sadly, that doesn’t look likely any time soon.
If ever cricket is likely to make a return to the Olympics (it was played at the 1900 Games in Paris - look out for George Dobell's feature on the site soon), then it will most likely be in the guise of T20. Paul Collingwood has been ruled out of Durham's FLt20 group-stage matches with a broken hand but that didn't prevent him carrying the Olympic flame through the city on day 30 of the torch relay around Britain.
"I am like a kid at Christmas," Collingwood said. "It's not ideal timing to break a bone in my right hand as I was going to carry it in that hand. It's going to be a great day, everyone has smiles on their faces - I certainly have a smile on mine. I feel really privileged; it's great to have my hands on the Olympic torch and to show off Durham."
Collingwood reportedly mimed a cover drive with the torch when he was presented with it - though we like to imagine it was more likely a nurdle into the leg side.
Trending: Overseas grumblings (again)
Having moved their domestic season to allow for the possibility of playing in the Champions League, you would think that counties would be making sure they have the best possible chance of reaching it. But misfortune has hit Worcestershire, with Sohail Tanvir now likely to miss the first five games - half the group stage - owing to visa regulations.