County news November 26, 2013

Desired blast given to new calendar

ESPNcricinfo staff

The 2014 county cricket calendar reveals much sort-after regularity with consistent slots in the week for County Championship and Twenty20 cricket.

The hitherto byzantine world of the county fixtures has been shuffled into a largely coherent schedule until at least 2017. By and large, four-day cricket will begin on a Sunday and Twenty20 cricket will be played on a Friday night.

England have detached themselves from world cricket with the new NatWest T20 Blast being spread throughout the season but it was the desire of a majority of counties for their most lucrative fixtures to be played at the most attractive time for spectators.

The competition reverts back to the North-South group split last seen in 2011 with counties playing 14 qualifying matches before quarter-finals and the traditional Finals Day on Saturday, August 23 at Edgbaston. Of the 126 group matches, 87 will be played on Friday nights.

The changes to the calendar are based on the Morgan Report and feedback from 25,000 fans.

Fifty-over cricket also makes a return in the new Royal London One-day Cup. The competition's preliminary stage has been given a three-week slot beginning at the end of July - to coincide with the school summer holidays - with quarter-finals added at the end of August.

The Unicorns, Netherlands and Scotland are no longer part of the tournament, which has a feature Lord's final on Saturday, September 20.

"This schedule has been designed to make the needs of the fans our number one priority," ECB Chief Executive David Collier said. "With nearly 70% of T20 group matches scheduled for Friday nights, 67% of County Championship matches commencing on a Sunday and a school summer holiday slot for The Royal London One-day Cup, this schedule meets the demand from fans for regular 'appointments to view' across all our domestic competitions.

"We are also excited about the role the NatWest T20 Blast will play in attracting a wider audience to our county game - with Friday nights providing the perfect opportunity for fans to combine a weekend night-out with watching cricket."

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  • 2.14istherunrate on November 27, 2013, 23:29 GMT

    It is always somewhat irritating to have to write a repost especially when one is going to try to remember the first one and it is not a heavily posted article.I was told acceptance was completely indiscriminating re content and quite frankly as I am not always on the side of ECB scheduling this is not usual comment.At last sanity has prevailed. Test players can get a proper game between Tests if out of form and the ghastly terrifying self sabotage by a t20 takeover midsummer has been ended. The moneymen too may see the point and once again we shall have real cricket in summer proper-surely the main point of having a cricket season altogether. And the watcher follower who is not into t20 can have something to look at in midsummer and not just pray the ghastliness the miasmic last 3 seaons would end. Hooray! I keep hoping they will get bored of t20 as I was after the first season of it. But in vain. I would have 50 over and 40 over comps, but at least they have ditched t20 dominance.

  • stringbok on November 27, 2013, 22:45 GMT

    There is no better illustration of the 'you can't please every one rule' than the cricket fixtures. I'm a working Essex fan who likes proper one day cricket. Our home 50 over games are all weekday games played over two weeks, three in the space of eight days. If the games were more spread out I would have taken leave but I won't be able to take four odd days in such a short space of time.

    Throw in our tourist game and that's' five days holiday required to watch the one day games. So without taking leave those members still stuck with the nine to five get 6 days championship cricket and a few bob off the T20 games if they want to go.

    However as the ECB have abandoned the more spectator friendly 40 over format in the mistaken belief that it will improve the England 50 over team I don't suppose they care how many or how few will be watching these games.

  • CodandChips on November 27, 2013, 17:43 GMT

    I think the problem of having too much information to spectators is that T20 would become even more gimmicky. Also at certain grounds it would just be unnecessary.

  • py0alb on November 27, 2013, 13:38 GMT

    I wish they would split the T20 finals over two days. Sitting through three two and a half hour matches is just grueling and seems to undermine the entire family friendly, short burst of intensity, point of the T20 format. It would be much better to get the semi's done on the Saturday, then everyone come back on the Sunday afternoon for the final. What a great stag weekend that would make as well!

  • YorkshirePudding on November 27, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    @Tom Retter, Having been to the oval (local ground) even during a test match the number of uninformed spectators is incredible.

    Though it would be great if the ECB produced a 'crib' sheet of terms to explain things like RR, D/L, etc.

  • lukekat on November 27, 2013, 8:02 GMT

    MartinW; I think you'll find that Lancashire are using an outground v Notts. They haven't stated which one

  • MartinW on November 27, 2013, 5:00 GMT

    Two quirky things I've noticed: Middlesex seem to be playing a T20 double header against both Essex and Sussex at Lord's on Sat 17 May; and Middlesex are using The Oval for a home T20 match against Somerset on Thu 19 Jun.

    4 counties are playing two CC matches at outgrounds: Sussex (Arundel, Horsham), Middlesex (Uxbridge, Northwood), Yorkshire (Scarborough x2), Gloucs (Cheltenham x2)

    4 counties are playing one CC match at outgrounds: Essex (Colchester), Kent (T Wells), Derbys (Chesterfield), Surrey (Guildford)

    10 counties are not using any outgrounds: Durham, Lancs, Notts, Leics, Warks, Worcs, Northants, Glam, Somerset, Hants

  • dummy4fb on November 27, 2013, 1:57 GMT

    I certainly hope that the ECB haven't discarded the Unicorns completely! if they have then this is an incredibly short sighted of them! the Unicorns offered a fantastic opportunity to get noticed by the FC Counties for players without a contract,Durston and Craddock are just two names of players who are now in FC cricket because of the Unicorns....

  • ChristopherG on November 26, 2013, 20:52 GMT

    There is an underlying movement from big city clubs to re-brand themselves as city teams; the marketeers think that they'd be able to draw in larger crowds from the highly-populated conurbations that surround the cities and those residents who more readily identify themselves with the metropolitan boundaries rather than the old shires in which the cities used to reside.

    Warwickshire is the first club to raise its head above the parapet - others will follow.

  • Kit_Silver on November 26, 2013, 20:48 GMT

    Has to make you laugh. Its only tweaking about to find best way of extracting money from the customers. Poor old players will still be playing 6 months and the team which survives the best will win the trophies. Could someone tell them also, T20 is best marketed as a quick fire trophy with a result! Not spread over a season where no one has any idea why they are playing it. Groan.

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