County news November 26, 2013

Desired blast given to new calendar

ESPNcricinfo staff
23

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."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Cyril_Knight on November 26, 2013, 20:18 GMT

    The ECBs use of percentages is startling. 65% of Championship games start on Sunday. Wow! I'm not going to do the maths but that means only a tiny amount of cricket on the weekend. Is this really what those fans consulted wanted?

    This summer will be the death of county cricket. Spreading T20 over the summer is daft. People go to drink, not for cricket, they go to enjoy a warm evening in the sunshine. A cold Friday night in May up north will not sell-out.

    County cricket had it's boom last summer thanks to the Ashes hype and great weather. The World Cup will destroy evening attendances, as global sporting events have done in the past. No-one will go to the 50 over game, no-one wanted it!

    All counties are going to be hit hard when no-one shows up. Then if we have a wet summer the smaller counties could go to the wall. Secretly I think the ECB wants this. Goodbye Leics and Derbs, you will be missed.

  • northumbriannomad on November 26, 2013, 18:20 GMT

    Saturday to Tuesday might have made sense. You'd have the whole weekend, plus several Bank Holidays. The ECB seems to have decided that Saturday is a rest day for the consumer age. Let's rename it Shopperday.

    Also, and speaking as a Durham fan, I sincerely hope that the "Birmingham Bears" adventure is short-lived. Several counties have wised up to the fact that a stupid alliterative name doesn't make them any cooler (Somerset, for example, although unfortunately not the Durham Dampsquibs). So Warwickshire Wizards (insert alternatives here) would have been bad enough. But to exclude the whole of the county that isn't part of Birmingham is RID IC U LOUS.

  • CodandChips on November 26, 2013, 17:59 GMT

    @Stevros3 good point. But everybody will still consider them as Warwickshire, and I assume commentators will keep making that mistake as well.

  • py0alb on November 26, 2013, 17:41 GMT

    I think a lot of cricket fans play league cricket on Saturdays, hence the reason they chose to leave this day clear.

  • Carrhill on November 26, 2013, 17:36 GMT

    Championship games starting on Sundays. Good idea. T20s mainly on a Friday evening. Another good idea. 50 over stuff during summer holidays. Yet another good idea. The use of the phrase "sort-after". Not such a good idea.

  • Stevros3 on November 26, 2013, 16:56 GMT

    Well I'm dissapointed as a Warwickshire fan, that we won't be competing in the T20. 'Birmingham Bears' rebanding is disgusting. While they are called such as a Warwickshire fan I can't in good faith support them and all the county fans living outside the city boundries should rightly be alienated by this move.

  • brusselslion on November 26, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    Well, the schedule is better than in recent seasons, but it's still an early start and late finish for the CC, so the weather will probably have a big say in who is crowned Champions/ promoted and relegated.

    Also agree with @SquareLegs: The virtual absence of county cricket on Saturdays is odd.

  • CodandChips on November 26, 2013, 15:47 GMT

    Like the idea of championship matches starting on a sunday as attendances should increase.

    Went to finals day to watch hampshire at Edgbaston. Great stadium and is in the midlands to hopefully give access to fans of all teams. Well down ECB.

  • o-bomb on November 26, 2013, 14:49 GMT

    This is good news. The calendar finally has some structure and is far easier to understand and follow this way. I look forward to next season.

  • SquareLegs on November 26, 2013, 14:26 GMT

    Very nice that it is fairly regular, but my county does not appear to be playing a single Saturday's cricket at home all season (unless they qualify for the later knockout competition stages and then get a home draw). That seems very odd to me, as I have mostly watched cricket on Saturdays. The championship game at my nearest out-ground is scheduled for Monday - Thursday, and not on a bank holiday: that seems crazy.

  • pragmatist on November 26, 2013, 13:57 GMT

    Good plan to give it all some structure. Friday nights is a great option for T20. All good and sensible really, but "blast" - really!?

  • on November 26, 2013, 13:33 GMT

    The t20 slots spread throughout the summer should encourage current t20 attendees to go more often, instead of fitting in 1 or 2 games a summer, it makes going to 6 or 7 reasonable, finally some logic!

    However this is only the first step. Going to the t20 with people who are less into the sport than me I often find it crazy that the venues don't do more to help the casual fan understand what is going on. I constantly find myself explaining whats going on, which team is on top, run rate and duckworth lewis etc. Its annoying when the game is building up to a tight finish and yet 80% of the crowd seems to have no idea (maybe this is only at the Oval though)

    As for CC starting on a Sunday, this is great news! Can't wait to go along.

  • py0alb on November 26, 2013, 11:54 GMT

    I like it! Will definitely attend some Friday night T20s, and with CC games all starting on a Sunday I might actually go and watch one. If only they would play one within 50 miles of me, it might be a bit easier to attend.

    Friday night will definitely be "cricket night" from now on, I'm sure lots of casual fans will try and find a pub that is showing a game.

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  • py0alb on November 26, 2013, 11:54 GMT

    I like it! Will definitely attend some Friday night T20s, and with CC games all starting on a Sunday I might actually go and watch one. If only they would play one within 50 miles of me, it might be a bit easier to attend.

    Friday night will definitely be "cricket night" from now on, I'm sure lots of casual fans will try and find a pub that is showing a game.

  • on November 26, 2013, 13:33 GMT

    The t20 slots spread throughout the summer should encourage current t20 attendees to go more often, instead of fitting in 1 or 2 games a summer, it makes going to 6 or 7 reasonable, finally some logic!

    However this is only the first step. Going to the t20 with people who are less into the sport than me I often find it crazy that the venues don't do more to help the casual fan understand what is going on. I constantly find myself explaining whats going on, which team is on top, run rate and duckworth lewis etc. Its annoying when the game is building up to a tight finish and yet 80% of the crowd seems to have no idea (maybe this is only at the Oval though)

    As for CC starting on a Sunday, this is great news! Can't wait to go along.

  • pragmatist on November 26, 2013, 13:57 GMT

    Good plan to give it all some structure. Friday nights is a great option for T20. All good and sensible really, but "blast" - really!?

  • SquareLegs on November 26, 2013, 14:26 GMT

    Very nice that it is fairly regular, but my county does not appear to be playing a single Saturday's cricket at home all season (unless they qualify for the later knockout competition stages and then get a home draw). That seems very odd to me, as I have mostly watched cricket on Saturdays. The championship game at my nearest out-ground is scheduled for Monday - Thursday, and not on a bank holiday: that seems crazy.

  • o-bomb on November 26, 2013, 14:49 GMT

    This is good news. The calendar finally has some structure and is far easier to understand and follow this way. I look forward to next season.

  • CodandChips on November 26, 2013, 15:47 GMT

    Like the idea of championship matches starting on a sunday as attendances should increase.

    Went to finals day to watch hampshire at Edgbaston. Great stadium and is in the midlands to hopefully give access to fans of all teams. Well down ECB.

  • brusselslion on November 26, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    Well, the schedule is better than in recent seasons, but it's still an early start and late finish for the CC, so the weather will probably have a big say in who is crowned Champions/ promoted and relegated.

    Also agree with @SquareLegs: The virtual absence of county cricket on Saturdays is odd.

  • Stevros3 on November 26, 2013, 16:56 GMT

    Well I'm dissapointed as a Warwickshire fan, that we won't be competing in the T20. 'Birmingham Bears' rebanding is disgusting. While they are called such as a Warwickshire fan I can't in good faith support them and all the county fans living outside the city boundries should rightly be alienated by this move.

  • Carrhill on November 26, 2013, 17:36 GMT

    Championship games starting on Sundays. Good idea. T20s mainly on a Friday evening. Another good idea. 50 over stuff during summer holidays. Yet another good idea. The use of the phrase "sort-after". Not such a good idea.

  • py0alb on November 26, 2013, 17:41 GMT

    I think a lot of cricket fans play league cricket on Saturdays, hence the reason they chose to leave this day clear.