England news April 15, 2013

ECB out to 'own the summer'

19

The ECB has unveiled a raft of measures it hopes will capitalise on a golden summer in which England hosts both the Champions Trophy and an Ashes series and inspire more people than ever before to play and watch the game.

They are also mindful that, for once, there are relatively few high-profile rival sporting events - such as the Olympics or a major international football tournament. As Steve Elworthy, managing director of global events and marketing, put it, "We want cricket to own this summer."

Ashes tickets are selling as well as anticipated - 95% of tickets have sold for the first four days of all Ashes Tests, with some grounds having sold out of fifth-day tickets - though the Leeds Test against New Zealand was described as "needing some support." The Champions Trophy is also meeting expectations, with anticipation at Edgbaston and The Oval particularly high.

The initiative will include free tickets for -16s at 40 Yorkshire Bank 40 matches in August (a maximum of four U-16s will be permitted per paying adult) and free on-line highlights of every YB40, County Championship and home international match. The ECB are also investigating the possibility of live-streaming the women's Ashes Test.

To encourage more people to play the game, the ECB will launch 'The Ashes School Challenge', a scheme which will offer free teaching and learning resources to primary schools using cricket to educate nine to 11-year-olds in the Key Stage 2 curriculum across all subjects. The ECB is also hoping to expand the 'Last Man Stands' format - an eight-a-side format lasting two-hours per game - which is designed to appeal to 'lapsed' cricketers who may not have the time or fitness to continue to play club cricket.

As for the thorny topic of the absence of international games on free-to-view television, the ECB will offer cricket clubs around the country incentives to allow members and non-members the opportunity to watch games for free. Competitions will offer chances to watch the Ashes in Australia and for a team to play at an international venue.

While the overall financial value of an Ashes series is now worth far less than a series against India - the value of overseas broadcast rights means the India series is estimated as at least 30% more lucrative - the power of the Ashes brand in England and Wales remains vast and the ECB hope that can utilise the profile of it to create a legacy to see the game through less obviously commercial seasons.

While the next three years offer a raft of high-profile Test series (Australia are the principle tourists in 2013 and 2015, with India playing a five-Test series in 2014), there is some concern about the commercial value a few of the years immediately following that. Tickets for series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the tourists in 2016, have not always sold well.

"Not every summer can be iconic," Gordon Hollins, Managing Director of Professional Cricket at the ECB said. "But three years is a long time and we hope the plans we put in place now will help us if there are tougher years ahead."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on April 15, 2013, 17:01 GMT

    The ECB can come up with all the fancy marketing initiatives it likes, but the simple fact is that Cricket will never "own the summer" unless it is shown on free to air television. Of course Sky brings in loads of money, which probably keeps the County Championship afloat, and we dont want to see that money dissapear. But surely there must be some sort of middle ground?? Maybe showing the Lords tests on terrestrial, or 1 test shown on terrestrial for each series? In order for Cricket to survive in the longterm as a mainstream/popular sport, there needs to be at least some free to air cricket.

  • on April 17, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    Of course most of us would rather have cricket on Terrestrial tv. However, the money coming in from sky helps keep the counties afloat and in some respect can be attributed to the improvement of the national side. Yes, the England team was improving under Nasser during the C4 days however since Sky money has come in, there has been a marked improvement in England's quality over all three formats. This can't be denied.

    I'd rather have free to air coverage esp as I loved Richie Benaud however this is a sad reality of modern day sport.

  • 2.14istherunrate on April 16, 2013, 12:36 GMT

    @JG2704-I think they give refunds for days lost up to 25 overs which is the cut off point. If they began to sell tickets for some Tests at a lower rate of course I think people who already had them should get a part refund. Factor in travel and snacks etc a day at the Test is quite pricey. Though they might claim it was too complex. the officials get through Duckworth Lewis calculations so they ought to be able to manage partial refunds. In any case ECB will never be poor.

  • on April 16, 2013, 10:47 GMT

    @gbqdgj You are out of your mind, and not just because you think Ravi Shastri is a good commentator.

    Channel 4's coverage (by production company Sunset + Vine) of home tests in the late 1990s and early to mid-2000s set the standard that current BSkyB coverage admirably aspires to continue. It was fresh and innovative in reaction to the overly reverential rut into which BBC coverage had fallen, most notably with its co-invention of the Hawk-Eye system (look how influential that alone has been).

    It had the best young commentators with Richie Benaud anchoring as only he can. It increased the analytical focus of cricket coverage, unafraid to explore technical details and trusting that viewers would be interested. It influenced the building of the foundations that have helped to strengthen the England team, directly coinciding with the Fletcher-Hussain era.

    And most importantly, it helped increase national enthusiasm for the game, culminating in the wonderful 2005 Ashes. Case rested.

  • JG2704 on April 16, 2013, 10:34 GMT

    @Meety on (April 16, 2013, 0:33 GMT) - Yeah you could be right. As I mentioned before , I'm a big boxing fan and I suppose while Sky would pay more for a live show / contract with the promoters , I guess it could affect live gates. UK currently has 3 world champions and I bet there are very few casual sport fans who could name more than 1 of them - if they could name the 1. Boxing has become worse re Sky because a subscription only channel was set up and Sky's coverage was since greatly reduced. Then Sky did a policy of no more PPV fights which at least was something but truth be told they didn't really have any worth PPV. Now they have a big fight and guess what - it's PPV which is decent enough to PPV but it should be free to compensate for lack of coverage on the sport What I miss is talking to the common man about such sports. I'm not sure what the difference is between what Sky pay and what others may offer

  • JG2704 on April 16, 2013, 10:34 GMT

    @maximum6 on (April 15, 2013, 23:33 GMT) Yeah , I can see your points. In such situations would the customer who bought the tickets at the higher price be entitled to the part refund? Also could you or anyone else tell me what happens if a ticket is bought for a day which is rained off and if so is there a point where if the weather interrupts a day by sufficient amounts where you are entitled to a refund?

    @gbqdgj on (April 16, 2013, 9:42 GMT) Excellent points , well made.

  • py0alb on April 16, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    Just for elucidation: according to wikipedia, 3% of UK households have Sky Sports.

  • gbqdgj on April 16, 2013, 9:42 GMT

    The sad fact is that even if the BBC or worse still Channel 4, showed the cricket, their coverage was shown as being intrinsically weak when Sky showed how it could and should be done. Sky put cricket in a far more positive light and if anyone disputes that just look at how much better their broadcasts were for the NZ-England series which was supposedly lower profile than the awful BCCI coverage during the India England game. This is not a reflection on the host commentators that I listened to instead of the Sky ones who weren't able to be at the ground (I actually think that Ravi Shastri is one of the finest commentators in the world) but more on the poor camera work, lack of innovation and so on. Frankly Channel 4's experiment some years ago was so far inferior to even the recent BCCI coverage that it is no wonder that the ECB didn't want to continue with them even without the issue of cash.

  • Meety on April 16, 2013, 0:33 GMT

    @JG2704 on (April 15, 2013, 19:44 GMT) - hopefully the money the ECB receives from broadcast rights to Pay TV is well spent. I would say there is enuff evidence to suggest that sports without any real Freeview presence really struggle to maintain their foothold. Cricket at least has a strong print & internet presence, but I can't help think about how Rugby in Oz went down the "Super" path & Pay TV, yet League & Rules dominate discussions as they are on Free TV. Won't matter in the short term, but I think it could make it hard to reach the next generation without Free TV coverage.

  • Kcila on April 16, 2013, 0:10 GMT

    The BBC made ikt clear a few years ago taht it was not willing to waste money on a bid it could not win. Sky were/are always going to trump the terrestrial channels and the BBC managers aren't that daft.

    Despite the ECB's moaning that they felt that BBC had a duty to bid for live cricket they also made it clear that the Beeb along with just about anyone else doesn't have a snowball's chance of winning international cricket back off Sky. So why waste time and a good deal of the licence fee bothering with a no hoper.

    Besides Sky Sports is far more widely available than the doom and gloom merchants would have you believe. From living rooms and computers to pubs and clubs the sound of bat on all will still be the sound of this summer.

  • on April 15, 2013, 17:01 GMT

    The ECB can come up with all the fancy marketing initiatives it likes, but the simple fact is that Cricket will never "own the summer" unless it is shown on free to air television. Of course Sky brings in loads of money, which probably keeps the County Championship afloat, and we dont want to see that money dissapear. But surely there must be some sort of middle ground?? Maybe showing the Lords tests on terrestrial, or 1 test shown on terrestrial for each series? In order for Cricket to survive in the longterm as a mainstream/popular sport, there needs to be at least some free to air cricket.

  • on April 17, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    Of course most of us would rather have cricket on Terrestrial tv. However, the money coming in from sky helps keep the counties afloat and in some respect can be attributed to the improvement of the national side. Yes, the England team was improving under Nasser during the C4 days however since Sky money has come in, there has been a marked improvement in England's quality over all three formats. This can't be denied.

    I'd rather have free to air coverage esp as I loved Richie Benaud however this is a sad reality of modern day sport.

  • 2.14istherunrate on April 16, 2013, 12:36 GMT

    @JG2704-I think they give refunds for days lost up to 25 overs which is the cut off point. If they began to sell tickets for some Tests at a lower rate of course I think people who already had them should get a part refund. Factor in travel and snacks etc a day at the Test is quite pricey. Though they might claim it was too complex. the officials get through Duckworth Lewis calculations so they ought to be able to manage partial refunds. In any case ECB will never be poor.

  • on April 16, 2013, 10:47 GMT

    @gbqdgj You are out of your mind, and not just because you think Ravi Shastri is a good commentator.

    Channel 4's coverage (by production company Sunset + Vine) of home tests in the late 1990s and early to mid-2000s set the standard that current BSkyB coverage admirably aspires to continue. It was fresh and innovative in reaction to the overly reverential rut into which BBC coverage had fallen, most notably with its co-invention of the Hawk-Eye system (look how influential that alone has been).

    It had the best young commentators with Richie Benaud anchoring as only he can. It increased the analytical focus of cricket coverage, unafraid to explore technical details and trusting that viewers would be interested. It influenced the building of the foundations that have helped to strengthen the England team, directly coinciding with the Fletcher-Hussain era.

    And most importantly, it helped increase national enthusiasm for the game, culminating in the wonderful 2005 Ashes. Case rested.

  • JG2704 on April 16, 2013, 10:34 GMT

    @Meety on (April 16, 2013, 0:33 GMT) - Yeah you could be right. As I mentioned before , I'm a big boxing fan and I suppose while Sky would pay more for a live show / contract with the promoters , I guess it could affect live gates. UK currently has 3 world champions and I bet there are very few casual sport fans who could name more than 1 of them - if they could name the 1. Boxing has become worse re Sky because a subscription only channel was set up and Sky's coverage was since greatly reduced. Then Sky did a policy of no more PPV fights which at least was something but truth be told they didn't really have any worth PPV. Now they have a big fight and guess what - it's PPV which is decent enough to PPV but it should be free to compensate for lack of coverage on the sport What I miss is talking to the common man about such sports. I'm not sure what the difference is between what Sky pay and what others may offer

  • JG2704 on April 16, 2013, 10:34 GMT

    @maximum6 on (April 15, 2013, 23:33 GMT) Yeah , I can see your points. In such situations would the customer who bought the tickets at the higher price be entitled to the part refund? Also could you or anyone else tell me what happens if a ticket is bought for a day which is rained off and if so is there a point where if the weather interrupts a day by sufficient amounts where you are entitled to a refund?

    @gbqdgj on (April 16, 2013, 9:42 GMT) Excellent points , well made.

  • py0alb on April 16, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    Just for elucidation: according to wikipedia, 3% of UK households have Sky Sports.

  • gbqdgj on April 16, 2013, 9:42 GMT

    The sad fact is that even if the BBC or worse still Channel 4, showed the cricket, their coverage was shown as being intrinsically weak when Sky showed how it could and should be done. Sky put cricket in a far more positive light and if anyone disputes that just look at how much better their broadcasts were for the NZ-England series which was supposedly lower profile than the awful BCCI coverage during the India England game. This is not a reflection on the host commentators that I listened to instead of the Sky ones who weren't able to be at the ground (I actually think that Ravi Shastri is one of the finest commentators in the world) but more on the poor camera work, lack of innovation and so on. Frankly Channel 4's experiment some years ago was so far inferior to even the recent BCCI coverage that it is no wonder that the ECB didn't want to continue with them even without the issue of cash.

  • Meety on April 16, 2013, 0:33 GMT

    @JG2704 on (April 15, 2013, 19:44 GMT) - hopefully the money the ECB receives from broadcast rights to Pay TV is well spent. I would say there is enuff evidence to suggest that sports without any real Freeview presence really struggle to maintain their foothold. Cricket at least has a strong print & internet presence, but I can't help think about how Rugby in Oz went down the "Super" path & Pay TV, yet League & Rules dominate discussions as they are on Free TV. Won't matter in the short term, but I think it could make it hard to reach the next generation without Free TV coverage.

  • Kcila on April 16, 2013, 0:10 GMT

    The BBC made ikt clear a few years ago taht it was not willing to waste money on a bid it could not win. Sky were/are always going to trump the terrestrial channels and the BBC managers aren't that daft.

    Despite the ECB's moaning that they felt that BBC had a duty to bid for live cricket they also made it clear that the Beeb along with just about anyone else doesn't have a snowball's chance of winning international cricket back off Sky. So why waste time and a good deal of the licence fee bothering with a no hoper.

    Besides Sky Sports is far more widely available than the doom and gloom merchants would have you believe. From living rooms and computers to pubs and clubs the sound of bat on all will still be the sound of this summer.

  • on April 15, 2013, 23:49 GMT

    I captain an 8 a side, Last Man Stands team here in Australia. It's a good format which, with a few tweaks, could be a successful one. It is, of course, a nightmare for captains and bowlers as with just 6 fielders to protect all the key areas (bye bye slips!), it is incredibly difficult to set aggressive fields to keep the runs down. It is a good way, though, for washed up cricketers to continue to have a run as well as those of us who aren't quite as good as others to be able to improve our skills. I'm all for it, but I think it needs a few tweaks.

  • 2.14istherunrate on April 15, 2013, 23:33 GMT

    I agree with remarks about the weather,the usual party spoiler. If certain series do not sell reduce the price. I can see why Sl might not sell well too because of their bowlers-hardly world beaters outside the subcontinent. Pakistan is less easy to understand as they can useuall whistle up some good seamers and should still have a deadly spinner or two to choose. Otherwise one can see Test cricket is still the real temple to visit by a distance.(hell I get bored even having to say such a thing but such are the times and the ICC.) The Champions trophy too I like-in many ways more than the World Cup. It's pertinent and snappy. I will be sorry to see it go as the price for the Test Championship which I want too. I think I would lose a t20 event or all of them instead.

  • JG2704 on April 15, 2013, 19:44 GMT

    Re TV coverage

    1 - ITV4 and BBC and whoever else have to be interested in showing English cricket

    2 - They would have to offer a competitive price

    We'd all love to see cricket on freeview tv but if these channels are not interested or are offering peanuts compared to Sky who are ECB going to go with? Who would you go with in ECB's position?

  • Jon1950 on April 15, 2013, 16:36 GMT

    ChewtonMendip: I am interested in how you arrived at the figure of 75% of the population being unable to view live cricket. Sky sports are available through other TV providers as well as Sky themselves.

    Personally I have never regretted geting Sky sports via a certain cable TV company. I like the idea of being able to watch cricket being played almost anywhere.

    BBC coverage of cricket was fine but Channel 4 was not very good and the IPL on ITV4 is so so.

    Also it should not be forgotten that the Sky deal has greatly increased the amount of money available to the ECB and hence UK cricket in general.

  • wibblewibble on April 15, 2013, 14:51 GMT

    ChewtonMendip: Since the Sky TV deal came in, the England team has never played better. Participation numbers have also grown since then. I agree, not being able to watch live cricket on free to air TV affects the atmosphere, but to say it is killing cricket seems a little harsh.

    Besides, to me cricket isn't a sport you watch, it's a sport you listen to. I have amazing memories of working with my dad in his shed whilst listening to TMS, it's what hooked me on cricket.

  • py0alb on April 15, 2013, 14:44 GMT

    Could we not have some, any, professional domestic cricket on free to air tv? Its not like Sky provide wall to wall coverage of every game.

    Its probably unrealistic at this point to expect the ECB to sell England games back to itv 4, but how about the T20 cup? Or the Sunday league? Or even the county championship? Surely the interest this would generate would be worth the loss of the handful of coppers that Sky pay for it?

    Just something, anything, please.

  • JG2704 on April 15, 2013, 14:39 GMT

    Where I'm from - as it stands - it looks like the weather gods are likely to own/ruin another summer. Maybe England should think of investing in indoor stadiums or retractable roofs

  • ChewtonMendip on April 15, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    Would be done easily if cricket could be watched on television, but with 75% of the population unable to see any live cricket, it's a practically impossible task. The most catastrophic thing ever done for the long-term health of cricket in this country was removing it from terestial television. Just like in the banking sector, long-term health was sacrificed for short-term pecuniary gain. Tragic.

  • BRUTALANALYST on April 15, 2013, 14:21 GMT

    "Own the summer" yet neither of the events are on Terrestrial TV for English viewers, this could of been the best time since Ashes 05 to publicize cricket yet it's all sold out to Sky and during a recession.

  • BRUTALANALYST on April 15, 2013, 14:21 GMT

    "Own the summer" yet neither of the events are on Terrestrial TV for English viewers, this could of been the best time since Ashes 05 to publicize cricket yet it's all sold out to Sky and during a recession.

  • ChewtonMendip on April 15, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    Would be done easily if cricket could be watched on television, but with 75% of the population unable to see any live cricket, it's a practically impossible task. The most catastrophic thing ever done for the long-term health of cricket in this country was removing it from terestial television. Just like in the banking sector, long-term health was sacrificed for short-term pecuniary gain. Tragic.

  • JG2704 on April 15, 2013, 14:39 GMT

    Where I'm from - as it stands - it looks like the weather gods are likely to own/ruin another summer. Maybe England should think of investing in indoor stadiums or retractable roofs

  • py0alb on April 15, 2013, 14:44 GMT

    Could we not have some, any, professional domestic cricket on free to air tv? Its not like Sky provide wall to wall coverage of every game.

    Its probably unrealistic at this point to expect the ECB to sell England games back to itv 4, but how about the T20 cup? Or the Sunday league? Or even the county championship? Surely the interest this would generate would be worth the loss of the handful of coppers that Sky pay for it?

    Just something, anything, please.

  • wibblewibble on April 15, 2013, 14:51 GMT

    ChewtonMendip: Since the Sky TV deal came in, the England team has never played better. Participation numbers have also grown since then. I agree, not being able to watch live cricket on free to air TV affects the atmosphere, but to say it is killing cricket seems a little harsh.

    Besides, to me cricket isn't a sport you watch, it's a sport you listen to. I have amazing memories of working with my dad in his shed whilst listening to TMS, it's what hooked me on cricket.

  • Jon1950 on April 15, 2013, 16:36 GMT

    ChewtonMendip: I am interested in how you arrived at the figure of 75% of the population being unable to view live cricket. Sky sports are available through other TV providers as well as Sky themselves.

    Personally I have never regretted geting Sky sports via a certain cable TV company. I like the idea of being able to watch cricket being played almost anywhere.

    BBC coverage of cricket was fine but Channel 4 was not very good and the IPL on ITV4 is so so.

    Also it should not be forgotten that the Sky deal has greatly increased the amount of money available to the ECB and hence UK cricket in general.

  • JG2704 on April 15, 2013, 19:44 GMT

    Re TV coverage

    1 - ITV4 and BBC and whoever else have to be interested in showing English cricket

    2 - They would have to offer a competitive price

    We'd all love to see cricket on freeview tv but if these channels are not interested or are offering peanuts compared to Sky who are ECB going to go with? Who would you go with in ECB's position?

  • 2.14istherunrate on April 15, 2013, 23:33 GMT

    I agree with remarks about the weather,the usual party spoiler. If certain series do not sell reduce the price. I can see why Sl might not sell well too because of their bowlers-hardly world beaters outside the subcontinent. Pakistan is less easy to understand as they can useuall whistle up some good seamers and should still have a deadly spinner or two to choose. Otherwise one can see Test cricket is still the real temple to visit by a distance.(hell I get bored even having to say such a thing but such are the times and the ICC.) The Champions trophy too I like-in many ways more than the World Cup. It's pertinent and snappy. I will be sorry to see it go as the price for the Test Championship which I want too. I think I would lose a t20 event or all of them instead.

  • on April 15, 2013, 23:49 GMT

    I captain an 8 a side, Last Man Stands team here in Australia. It's a good format which, with a few tweaks, could be a successful one. It is, of course, a nightmare for captains and bowlers as with just 6 fielders to protect all the key areas (bye bye slips!), it is incredibly difficult to set aggressive fields to keep the runs down. It is a good way, though, for washed up cricketers to continue to have a run as well as those of us who aren't quite as good as others to be able to improve our skills. I'm all for it, but I think it needs a few tweaks.

  • Kcila on April 16, 2013, 0:10 GMT

    The BBC made ikt clear a few years ago taht it was not willing to waste money on a bid it could not win. Sky were/are always going to trump the terrestrial channels and the BBC managers aren't that daft.

    Despite the ECB's moaning that they felt that BBC had a duty to bid for live cricket they also made it clear that the Beeb along with just about anyone else doesn't have a snowball's chance of winning international cricket back off Sky. So why waste time and a good deal of the licence fee bothering with a no hoper.

    Besides Sky Sports is far more widely available than the doom and gloom merchants would have you believe. From living rooms and computers to pubs and clubs the sound of bat on all will still be the sound of this summer.