June 29, 2012

Friends Life t20, Friday June 29

Jon Culley
Luke Wright hits out during his innings of 46, Essex v Sussex, FLt20 South Group, June 28, 2012
Would fans from Horsham go to see a Brighton franchise that featured Luke Wright?  © Getty Images
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The franchise debate - more thoughts

When T20 brashly introduced itself a decade ago and county members stood aghast as the comforting serenity of their treasured domain was shattered by hordes of unfamiliar faces encouraged to indulge in overt displays of fun, no one quite knew what to expect.

Well, actually that's not strictly true. It was quite easy to know what to expect: namely that there would be a surge of interest, perhaps even a substantial surge of interest in a new, bold and potentially exciting version of an essentially familiar game, but that after a while it would become an established part of the cricket calendar, alongside the Test matches and the County Championship, the novelty would wear off, the hoardes would not come in quite such large numbers and the great and good of the game would scratch their heads and wonder what to do next. And, of course, that somewhere else in the world there would be someone who had taken our idea and done better with it than us.

Which is why there is talk of making the enormous, radical leap into franchises, of trying to make a copy of the IPL, change the 'I' for an 'E' , get the marketing folk on the case and wait for the hordes to come back and spend their money all over again.

I do hope it doesn't last, that it doesn't gather the irreversible momentum that dubious ideas too often acquire because no one had the courage to suggest that they might not actually work.

When T20 was invented here the crowds came because they knew who their team was. Folk who lived in Brighton and Horsham and Hastings knew their cricket team was Sussex, even if they had never been to watch them before; the people of Birmingham did not need telling that their team was Warwickshire, even if thousands of them, in terms of to whom they paid their council tax, had never actually lived there.

And when they went along to see a game they at least knew something about, played in a new, high tempo atmosphere, with a sense of immediacy and drama, they liked the fact that the guys playing it shared that bond; that they were representing Sussex and Warwickshire and Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire as they had done before and while they were now carrying the standard in a new cause, it was still on their behalf.

The idea that a cross-county coalition teamed with random overseas players under some nebulous metropolitan franchise could find a body of supporters able to make that connection is, I fear, a delusion.

Hales back - with a warning

Alex Hales will make a quick return to domestic Twenty20 action for Nottinghamshire against Durham at Trent Bridge tonight, still pinching himself over his 99 for England against West Indies on his home patch last Sunday - not least because he still can't quite believe he missed the opportunity for a century.

"I was thrilled and gutted at the same time because I wanted to convert to a hundred and be there at the finish line," he told Nottinghamshire's website. "I was blanking out everything that people were saying for a good few minutes afterwards. But Jonny Bairstow told me I should be happy with 99 and now I’ve reflected on it I am."

Yet Mick Newell, the county's exacting coach, has already been in Hales's ear with some timely reminders not to start thinking too highly of himself. "It was a hugely impressive innings from Alex, because he was under pressure with all the talk about how Alastair Cook should be playing, but he handled that pressure and has more or less booked his World Cup t20 spot, or for me he should have done," Newell said.

"He has done himself the world of good for that tournament but it is about kicking on in all formats of the game, making himself more attractive for the 50-over matches and then the Tests. If he sits back and thinks he's made the T20 World Cup, he will not achieve that goal in all formats."

Note to self - try to remember everyone's name

Yasir Arafat has become the very model of the modern cricketer, touring the world year-round to ply his trade in return for lucrative T20 contracts. Lancashire's overseas player for this year's FLt20, he has played for nine teams in five countries.

It is a schedule not without its problems, one of which is wandering into a dressing room, unpacking your kit, exchanging pleasantries with the guy at the next peg and desperately trying to remember who he is.

“I am still struggling to get to know the names of all the Lancashire players,” Arafat admitted earlier this week. “I know Gary Keedy and Glen Chapple, but some of the younger ones I am still struggling with. I have played in Bangladesh, New Zealand and Pakistan this year, with different teams, so you can see why it is difficult to remember all the names sometimes."

Arafat travels with Lancashire to take on North Group leaders Yorkshire needing one wicket to become the first bowler to take 100 wickets in T20 cricket in England. It is the 16th T20 Roses match in what has been a remarkably evenly contested rivalry thus far. Of the first 15 clashes, Yorkshire have won eight to Lancashire's seven.

Beer back on tap?

Three years ago, newspaper headline writers were anticipating some fun ahead when a legspinner by the name of Will Beer began to make a name for himself with Sussex. Then aged 20, and only just out of the Sussex academy, Beer played a match-winning role as the south-coast team won the Twenty20 Cup, taking the crucial wickets of James Hildreth and Craig Kieswetter as Sussex beat Somerset in the final at Edgbaston.

Since then, however, Beer's career has not gone according to plan. Although he has clocked up 35 T20 appearances, he has not played a first-class match since the beginning of the 2011 season and at 23 he needs something to revive his prospects.

Perhaps it will be the T20. Beer could not add to his 27 career wickets in the short format as Sussex beat Essex to maintain their lead in the South Group last night, but crucially hit nine runs off Ryan ten Doeschate in the final over as the Sharks, chasing 178 to win, got home with one ball to spare.

Fixtures

Somerset v Gloucestershire, Taunton, 17:30 Worcestershire v Glamorgan, New Road, 17:30 Yorkshire v Lancashire, Headingley, 17:40 Nottinghamshire v Durham, Trent Bridge, 18:00 Northamptonshire v Warwickshire, Northampton, 18:50 Derbyshire v Leicestershire, Derby, 19:00 Essex v Hampshire, Chelmsford, 19:00 Sussex v Kent, Hove, 19:10

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Posted by Darren Cook on (June 29, 2012, 20:13 GMT)

I will get my coat! Beer is playing,doh...

Posted by Darren Cook on (June 29, 2012, 20:10 GMT)

Excellent, I see Sussex aren't playing Wrist Spinner Beer but they are playing a young South African spinner instead!

Posted by Barrick on (June 29, 2012, 19:52 GMT)

I'm not spokesman for the Yorkshire Recruitment Policy Committee, but as you infer, they weren't born in Yorkshire.

Unlike Gale, Sayers, Root, Lyth, Rashid, Bresnan, McGrath, Pyrah, Bairstow, Ashraf, Rafiq, Sidebottom, Patterson, Wardlaw and Hannon-Dalby, to name just those who've played for the first team this season.

We've even provided Lancashire with half their bowling attack, with Chapple, Keedy and now Shahzad.

Regardless, you may remember that the county of birth rule was scrapped in 1992, so I'm not entirely sure what the point of the argument is.

Posted by Darren Cook on (June 29, 2012, 19:32 GMT)

Great to see that Yorkshire's home grown talent helped them to win today's Roses match, so what part of Yorkshire were Jaques, Miller , Ballance and Starc born?

Posted by Barrick on (June 29, 2012, 18:15 GMT)

Franchises wouldn't have my recommendation either. It would be interesting to see as a Yorkshireman, however, how a Leeds side would be received.

Given the size of the county, it would presumably have just Yorkshire as its natural catchement area - County Durham is just north of Yorkshire, but a long way from Leeds - and my attitude would be to treat it essentially as Yorkshire with an enforced name change.

Successful ventures such as the IPL arise from innovation, not imitation. I certainly don't wish to see a huge amount of money spent creating a product that is identical to the established market leader. If we wish to wrest the power from the IPL, we would need to create something better, not the same.

Posted by Omkar on (June 29, 2012, 15:55 GMT)

I couldn't be more against franchise twenty20 cricket in England and Wales. It is not the way we do cricket here and hopefully will never be. However I do think your example of using Horsham and Hastings with regard to a Brighton franchise is a poor one. Being one of the few counties with only one football club (Crawley does not count) Sussex folk from all over the county support Brighton & Hove Albion, the footballing equivalent of Sussex CCC. I am a Horsham boy and yet still choose Brighton over Horsham and Crawley who are more local to me. In this light, I do not think that Sussex fans outside Brighton would have any problem supporting a Brighton based franchise. I for one would be fully behind the side as it would essentially be Sussex anyway, not that I want that to happen. Perhaps relay your points across some other clubs and see what their fans would do in that event. I would not expect Lancs fans in Liverpool to be too happy supporting a Manchester based franchise for example..

Posted by Jon Culley on (June 29, 2012, 12:52 GMT)

Absolutely, AB. We have established teams with established fan bases and a willingness among the participants to make the competition better. All it needs is for a consistent format, with a proper place in an organised, logical fixture list and for players to be available to take part. That means the best overseas players and the England players.

Posted by Rampsfan on (June 29, 2012, 12:48 GMT)

Yes, let's put this franchise silliness to bed(as un-English as our 'Supreme' Court). Agree with AB that we should nail down Friday nights for T20 sweet sixes into the balmy night right to end of summer, and free Sundays for 40/50 overs. Classico to start on Wednesdays. We won't get current internationals back for any except for KP and Straussy hooray, but the ESSENTIAL timing will do the trick.

Posted by AB on (June 29, 2012, 11:51 GMT)

Yup, a solid argument against franchising. To say nothing of the fact that there simply isn't room in the English summer for two test series, a bucketload of (pointless) ODIs, AND a month in the middle for some super shiny franchise T20 competition, the success of which would surely depend on the availability of the English odi/t20 squad.

T20 works fine, time to consolidate the competition now and achieve some continuity and tradition with Friday evening games, not blow it all up and start again. If we want to rework something, lets get the pro40 back to Sunday afternoons - the only time a domestic 40/50 overs format has ever captured any interest.

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