NatWest T20 Blast August 22, 2014

T20 attendances tell two tales

Impressive crowd figures have been revealed for the new NatWest Blast but dig a little deeper and they reveal a different story that should concern county lovers
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Play 04:02
Pressure off for Warwickshire

Leonard Cohen once defined a pessimist as a person expecting rain, an optimist as a person expecting sunshine and himself as a man for whom such descriptions were irrelevant: he was already soaking wet.

Perhaps it is the same with domestic T20 cricket in England. While figures produced by the ECB to celebrate record figures in the re-launched NatWest Blast could be used to argue that the game was growing healthily, they could equally be interpreted to argue a worrying shrinkage.

Ultimately, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the domestic game has a tough fight on its hand to remain relevant and solvent. The re-launch and re-scheduling of the T20 games (the majority are now held on Friday nights) has made very little difference.

With a record gate of 23,000 at Edgbaston for NatWest Blast T20 Finals Day, overall attendance will pass 700,000 for the first time in its 12-year history. And, the average attendance figure - 5772 - is up about 12% on the average figures - 5153 - for matches over the last five years. All of which sounds well and good. But when you scratch the surface of the figures, the shine soon wears off.

The average attendance figure this year has actually declined from 6503 per game in 2013 to 5772 in 2014. That is a drop of around 11% per game from last year.

And, when you bear in mind that this season benefited from increased marketing, better scheduling and was designed as the start of a development that would see attendance double over the next four years, it becomes hard to avoid the unsettling conclusion that the mass market - the market that attends football, goes to the cinema and has disposable income to spend in pubs and restaurants - simply doesn't want to buy what county cricket is selling.

For all the unpalatable consequences of that conclusion, it is one that must not be ignored.

It would, of course, be wrong to draw firm conclusions from such black and white statistics. They do not, for example, reflect that 2013 was a rare summer free of football World Cups, Olympics or similar. It does not reflect that the competition in 2013 was blessed with excellent weather. It does not reflect that the tournament followed on the heels of a successful Champions Trophy that promoted cricket and built some sort of momentum for the game.

Equally, there are areas in which the ECB could tinker with the schedule in the realistic hope of improving the figures ahead of next year. For a start, it seems odd that the group stages of a competition aimed at a family audience starts in May - in the middle of exams - and ends just as the school holidays begin. Equally, there are currently 14 group games meaning that some sides play each other twice and others just once. The increase to 16 will put more pressure on the schedule, but cricketers might be advised to look at the fixture list of baseball players before bemoaning their lot.

But it seems fanciful to suggest that such tinkering would provide the silver bullet solution that is required.

And it may well be fanciful to suggest that a move to a franchise, city-based tournament would prove helpful. While such competitions have worked in India and Australia, the model here is not comparable. The negatives might well outweigh the positives.

In an era without live English cricket on free-to-air TV, the role of clubs - the likes of Northamptonshire (who saw their attendances grow by 16%) and Somerset (who will lobby for more games on Sunday afternoons next year) and Leicestershire - is as much to promote the game in areas where it might otherwise wither and die than it is to compete and produce England players. If you take meaningful T20 cricket from such towns, you are jeopardising the game's future in vast regions of the country.

The answer might well lie in a return, a partial return, of cricket to free-to-air television. No amount of grass roots initiatives, no amount of investment in coaching schemes and improved facilities and school visits and photo shoots, can replace the inspirational value of one gripping game on TV witnessed by a fascinated child.

There are many fine players involved in the NatWest Blast T20 Finals Day: James Anderson, Ian Bell, Jos Buttler, Jason Roy and James Vince among them. But it might be relevant that - arguably, anyway - the two biggest names on display are Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff. Both men who built their reputations in an era when cricket was played on free-to-air TV and featured in the 2005 Ashes. More modern players simply cannot compete with the exposure they enjoyed.

A return to live English cricket on free-to-air TV is not, at first glance, imminent. Sky have bought exclusive rights to live cricket under the ECB's jurisdiction until 2019 and they understandably guard their subscription business model and their exclusivity fiercely.

Fair enough, too. At a time when free-to-air broadcasters - even those blessed with public money to spend on rights - showed little interest in the sport, Sky invested heavily in the game and have taken coverage of the sport to a new level. Recent broadcasting deals have resulted in unprecedented investment in the game at every level and seen the ECB lead the world in the development of women's cricket and disability cricket. It would be foolish to portray the Sky deal as bad for the game.

Equally, it would be foolish to portray the free-to-air broadcasters as the guardians of a golden age of cricket. Before the days of Sky, cricket fought for space among busy broadcasting schedules. Channel 4 persuaded the ECB to start Tests as 10.30am one summer - half-an-hour earlier than normal - so it could finish in time not to interrupt the scheduling of The Simpsons or Hollyoaks. Meanwhile, the historic Oval Test of 2005 was interrupted 13 times for coverage of horse racing; the "Botham's Ashes" of 1981 was interrupted by programmes such as Playschool, Chock-a-block and The skill of lip-reading (perhaps ideal for picking-up James Anderson's words of advice to opposition batsmen) while the two Ashes series broadcast by Channel 4 were interrupted, in all, by 33 hours' worth of horse racing. The past is often remembered with a romantic filter.

Unless something changes, the game will continue its gradual but inexorable decline. It already struggles to find space on back pages; it already struggles to find space in tabloid newspapers.

There is a possible solution, a middle path; a third way. Sky have, courtesy of their Pick channel, a free-to-air vehicle for providing "samples" of their shows. They have already experimented with showing highlights of the 2013-14 Ashes series and, in the past, have used the channel to attract would-be subscribers with shows such as Modern Family and Futurama.

If they could be persuaded that their own interests and the interests of the game in England could be served by showing some cricket - perhaps a regular highlights show offering coverage of the NatWest T20 Blast - then perhaps we might see a revival of interest in the game.

It should suit all parties to sustain the game, to encourage another generation of supporters, to develop a new consumer base. But whether it suits all parties to look beyond the next set of accounts, the next report to shareholders and the next bonus, is debatable.

But the evidence of recent months is that the current method is not working. Unless something changes, the game will continue its gradual but inexorable decline. It already struggles to find space on back pages; it already struggles to find space in tabloid newspapers. The Ashes was sealed, at Durham, in front of a ground far from full to capacity. The Investec Test series against India has been played, at times, in front of grounds barely half full. While the likes of the BBC and ESPNcricinfo have invested in excellent county coverage, the general decline in broadcasting of the domestic game is a serious threat to the viability of the sport. At least one county game has been played in front on an empty press box this season.

There is much to celebrate and enjoy in English cricket. There will be much to entertain and excite on Finals Day. The quality of the play remains high. But if cricket is not given the oxygen of exposure it will gently drift into irrelevance. We may not be soaking wet just yet, but we're fools if we ignore the growing evidence of the water rising around us.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • oldboyba on August 25, 2014, 7:21 GMT

    T20 is a totally different game to 50 overs. I believe the only way it (T20) will survive long term is for teams to accept that it IS a young players game, with fielding well and swiftness over the ground essential. In Somerset we have IMO the most talented fielder in the country with speed and sureness of touch - take a bow - MAX WALLER!

  • on August 24, 2014, 17:20 GMT

    I'd like to see what effect the new T20 format has had on attendance figures for the One Cup. I know that will be difficult, as that is new as well. So, compare new 50 over cup figs with last year's 40 overs equivalent. I'll watch T20 on tv, but no way I'll waste an evening going to watch live. I cancelled my county membership after 15 years as no home one day matches on a Sunday. That has meant no one day matches on tv on Sundays either - huge mistake. I'm happy to pay for Sky to watch cricket, but lack of Sunday matches has reduced my interest - bring back a proper one day league played mostly on Sundays!

  • on August 23, 2014, 21:32 GMT

    I never thought I'd read an article on Cricinfo that managed to include references to my two favourite animated series, but there you go. My good friends Guy Incognito and I.C. Weiner would be proud.

    To be honest, the transfer of all this cricket to Sky has been beneficial in almost every way, from the level of investment to the level on analysis to the fact it's actually comprehensive - although I liked Channel 4's coverage the frequent interruptions were a bit of a pain. Even the quality of the commentary on Sky dramatically improved from 2006 onwards, as if they suddenly realised as sole game guardians they would have to make an extra effort to not bore viewers senseless by Paul Allott and Bob Willis droning on and actually inform and entertain them with Michael Atherton and David Lloyd.

    But there is one simple, damning con to outweigh these pros: not everyone can see it. If a tree falls in the forest and there's no one around to hear it, will it make a sound?

  • NRC1979 on August 23, 2014, 19:17 GMT

    When will sports writers realise that perhaps we, as a cricketing nation and genuine cricket fans, don't really care for 20:20. Prrsonally, I am a massive cricket fan but will watch a 20:20 game on sky if there is genuinely nothing else of note to watch or do...I have watched 3 games live at the ground since it started and all have been instantly forgettable as they mean nothing most of the time. Make games matter, then perhap we will embrace it more

  • ignorant-fool on August 23, 2014, 17:25 GMT

    As a kid I remember the cricket scores on the BBC radio news I'm not sure when they stopped even from a very young age I remember being fascinated by them what did they mean etc etc. Any idea when they stopped? At least radio 4 could carry the county scores it would hardly be a costly activity and although its not a youthful demographic its the one that most attends county games.

  • Shandorinho on August 23, 2014, 14:02 GMT

    Cricket is considered slow, boring and complicated by a lot of people in this country (a work colleague once said "what's the point of a sport that lasts 5 days, where there's a chance nobody wins in the end?"). The trick would be getting them to sit down and tune into a quicker, more instant-thrill version of it in the first place. Free-to-air limited-overs cricket would perhaps help to an extent, but the fact is that even a t20 match is relatively long compared to other sports like football, so would take up a lot of a channel's scheduling time. And the trouble with just highlights is you just get boundary-boundary-boundary-wicket-boundary, which doesn't really mean anything.

    In terms of attending games, we're also not helped by the British climate. I myself have sometimes not bothered going to a game I would've otherwise attended if the weather forecast hinted at a risk of rain, because I wouldn't want to make the effort and expense of going to the ground for nothing.

  • BrisPete on August 23, 2014, 12:21 GMT

    Free to air would certainly help but the best we can hope for is a highlights package. I think that we need to give the Friday night T20 a little more time. One of the problems of changing the format every season is that no one can get into the habit of attending. In the early days of 40 over cricket it was a Sunday League - a format that, at the time was enormously popular - and there was a match televised by the BBC every week. A coherent season would help county cricket enormously. This season has been the most coherent for many years. Give it a good go.

  • DaveGCI on August 23, 2014, 11:10 GMT

    Maybe the ECB should be talking to BT Sport. I have a sneaky feeling Sky will not be showing much cricket at all soon. The IPL? Big deal, a domestic T20 competition, let's not get carried away with the importance of it. It's lost most of the rugby union. It's never shown the best tournament in the northern hemisphere, the 6 Nations. And it's grip on football is loosening. It's only a matter of time before BT snaps up the rights to cricket. And of course BT Sport is free to broadband subscribers with the company

  • YorkshirePudding on August 23, 2014, 10:39 GMT

    @Nick_Hertfordshire, why not go back to the old format of the B&H/Gillette cup which was a knockout competition featuring the minor counties. The Minor counties have a play off with the top 7 from each division going through, add in Scotland and either the unicorns or Holland to make 32, then it becomes knock a knockout competition, based on a draw system like the FA cup at the end of each round, played on a saturday. This would reduce the RLC, to a matter of 4 rounds plus final, easy to fit into a small window.

    Again toy could do the same with the T20, very much like the FA cup OR Carling cup which uses home and away with best RR between the legs deciding in the case of a draw. it would put more emphasis winning games to proceed you could see 'giant killings' like with the FA cup.

  • YorkshirePudding on August 23, 2014, 10:23 GMT

    I think people miss the point, T20 isnt relevant to most people, especially those that support serious cricket give it a wide berth if they are over 35, the under 30 crowd are either out with their mates painting the town on the pull, out on a date, or spending time with their partner having been out with people from work on the previous evening.

    Those that do attend, especially in london, use it for corporate entertainment, or they used to mid week but who wants to goto a corporate evening of cricket match on a friday when you have a family at home who you might not have seen much of during the last week. Add on that July/August is when most families go away for 2-3 weeks and you have a set of perfect storms.

    In the end 5600 x £12.50 per game average is a lot better than the county receipts.

    And before anyone suggests a franchise system, it still wont work because people still have the same issues.

  • oldboyba on August 25, 2014, 7:21 GMT

    T20 is a totally different game to 50 overs. I believe the only way it (T20) will survive long term is for teams to accept that it IS a young players game, with fielding well and swiftness over the ground essential. In Somerset we have IMO the most talented fielder in the country with speed and sureness of touch - take a bow - MAX WALLER!

  • on August 24, 2014, 17:20 GMT

    I'd like to see what effect the new T20 format has had on attendance figures for the One Cup. I know that will be difficult, as that is new as well. So, compare new 50 over cup figs with last year's 40 overs equivalent. I'll watch T20 on tv, but no way I'll waste an evening going to watch live. I cancelled my county membership after 15 years as no home one day matches on a Sunday. That has meant no one day matches on tv on Sundays either - huge mistake. I'm happy to pay for Sky to watch cricket, but lack of Sunday matches has reduced my interest - bring back a proper one day league played mostly on Sundays!

  • on August 23, 2014, 21:32 GMT

    I never thought I'd read an article on Cricinfo that managed to include references to my two favourite animated series, but there you go. My good friends Guy Incognito and I.C. Weiner would be proud.

    To be honest, the transfer of all this cricket to Sky has been beneficial in almost every way, from the level of investment to the level on analysis to the fact it's actually comprehensive - although I liked Channel 4's coverage the frequent interruptions were a bit of a pain. Even the quality of the commentary on Sky dramatically improved from 2006 onwards, as if they suddenly realised as sole game guardians they would have to make an extra effort to not bore viewers senseless by Paul Allott and Bob Willis droning on and actually inform and entertain them with Michael Atherton and David Lloyd.

    But there is one simple, damning con to outweigh these pros: not everyone can see it. If a tree falls in the forest and there's no one around to hear it, will it make a sound?

  • NRC1979 on August 23, 2014, 19:17 GMT

    When will sports writers realise that perhaps we, as a cricketing nation and genuine cricket fans, don't really care for 20:20. Prrsonally, I am a massive cricket fan but will watch a 20:20 game on sky if there is genuinely nothing else of note to watch or do...I have watched 3 games live at the ground since it started and all have been instantly forgettable as they mean nothing most of the time. Make games matter, then perhap we will embrace it more

  • ignorant-fool on August 23, 2014, 17:25 GMT

    As a kid I remember the cricket scores on the BBC radio news I'm not sure when they stopped even from a very young age I remember being fascinated by them what did they mean etc etc. Any idea when they stopped? At least radio 4 could carry the county scores it would hardly be a costly activity and although its not a youthful demographic its the one that most attends county games.

  • Shandorinho on August 23, 2014, 14:02 GMT

    Cricket is considered slow, boring and complicated by a lot of people in this country (a work colleague once said "what's the point of a sport that lasts 5 days, where there's a chance nobody wins in the end?"). The trick would be getting them to sit down and tune into a quicker, more instant-thrill version of it in the first place. Free-to-air limited-overs cricket would perhaps help to an extent, but the fact is that even a t20 match is relatively long compared to other sports like football, so would take up a lot of a channel's scheduling time. And the trouble with just highlights is you just get boundary-boundary-boundary-wicket-boundary, which doesn't really mean anything.

    In terms of attending games, we're also not helped by the British climate. I myself have sometimes not bothered going to a game I would've otherwise attended if the weather forecast hinted at a risk of rain, because I wouldn't want to make the effort and expense of going to the ground for nothing.

  • BrisPete on August 23, 2014, 12:21 GMT

    Free to air would certainly help but the best we can hope for is a highlights package. I think that we need to give the Friday night T20 a little more time. One of the problems of changing the format every season is that no one can get into the habit of attending. In the early days of 40 over cricket it was a Sunday League - a format that, at the time was enormously popular - and there was a match televised by the BBC every week. A coherent season would help county cricket enormously. This season has been the most coherent for many years. Give it a good go.

  • DaveGCI on August 23, 2014, 11:10 GMT

    Maybe the ECB should be talking to BT Sport. I have a sneaky feeling Sky will not be showing much cricket at all soon. The IPL? Big deal, a domestic T20 competition, let's not get carried away with the importance of it. It's lost most of the rugby union. It's never shown the best tournament in the northern hemisphere, the 6 Nations. And it's grip on football is loosening. It's only a matter of time before BT snaps up the rights to cricket. And of course BT Sport is free to broadband subscribers with the company

  • YorkshirePudding on August 23, 2014, 10:39 GMT

    @Nick_Hertfordshire, why not go back to the old format of the B&H/Gillette cup which was a knockout competition featuring the minor counties. The Minor counties have a play off with the top 7 from each division going through, add in Scotland and either the unicorns or Holland to make 32, then it becomes knock a knockout competition, based on a draw system like the FA cup at the end of each round, played on a saturday. This would reduce the RLC, to a matter of 4 rounds plus final, easy to fit into a small window.

    Again toy could do the same with the T20, very much like the FA cup OR Carling cup which uses home and away with best RR between the legs deciding in the case of a draw. it would put more emphasis winning games to proceed you could see 'giant killings' like with the FA cup.

  • YorkshirePudding on August 23, 2014, 10:23 GMT

    I think people miss the point, T20 isnt relevant to most people, especially those that support serious cricket give it a wide berth if they are over 35, the under 30 crowd are either out with their mates painting the town on the pull, out on a date, or spending time with their partner having been out with people from work on the previous evening.

    Those that do attend, especially in london, use it for corporate entertainment, or they used to mid week but who wants to goto a corporate evening of cricket match on a friday when you have a family at home who you might not have seen much of during the last week. Add on that July/August is when most families go away for 2-3 weeks and you have a set of perfect storms.

    In the end 5600 x £12.50 per game average is a lot better than the county receipts.

    And before anyone suggests a franchise system, it still wont work because people still have the same issues.

  • on August 23, 2014, 9:35 GMT

    No free to air TV equals no interest. The sooner the people who run cricket realise this the better. Cricket is slowly dying, unless you have the disposable income to spend on Sky there is very little coverage.

  • RFC73 on August 23, 2014, 9:35 GMT

    But the problem with showing 20 20 cricket on FTA is that most of it is on Friday evenings.On Friday evenings the FTA chanels are full of soaps and would not drop them for cricket. The new format has had one season. FGS, give it a chance. We're too impatient in this country.

  • Nutcutlet on August 23, 2014, 8:40 GMT

    The climactic last day of the Lord's Test of 1963 v Worrell's WIndies - when Cowdrey re-appeared at the fall of England's 9th wicket - was deemed to be so exciting that the 6 o'clock News on BBC was delayed to allow the nation to witness the thrilling conclusion. Everyone was gripped, even those who has the most fleeting interest in our game. There was no question then that cricket was our national summer game and people's general knowledge about it was up & running. Since cricket sold its soul to Sky, it choked off the oxygen of that interest, that knowledge & understanding. Nothing was saved, not a single Test, not a limited overs final. It was an appalling decision, driven by greed. It didn't have to be that way. Take rugby (either code); it can be found on free-to-air as well as Sky. Rugby has ensured that it remains a popular sport AND benefited from the Sky millions. F1 similarly.That's what you get when you bow down to business men. Cricket has shot itself by mismanagement.

  • on August 23, 2014, 6:51 GMT

    @Peppard11: Excellant idea ! I started watching Hampshire in the 60's at the US Services ground in Portsmouth where I was inspired by the likes of Sobers, Richards, Boycott (OK perhaps not) etc as I'd imagine others were similarly entranced at Mays Bounty and Dean Court. With the Ageas bowl inaccessible for those without cars the current generation of youngsters have to rely on lifts or not bother - which is more likely. But of course the chances of Hampshire doing something that the fans might want (which wasn't necessarily a huge souless very occasional test match venue that we pay over the odds for entry to by the way) are so remote as to not worth considering. T20 ticket pricing needs to be reconsidered especially Hants. I'm aware that there are discounts on offer for early purchase but most people wait for the weather forecast before committing so often leave it late. It cost my partner and I £84 to watch a T20 this season - not the sort of activity you'll want to do too often !

  • GeoffreysMother on August 23, 2014, 6:31 GMT

    More free to air cricket is a lovely idea - but I suppose for Sky their worry is about losing people like me; at what point do I cancel my subscription because there is enough free to air cricket (I already baulk at having to pay a subscription which covers football and golf which I have little interest in). You are right though, Sky coverage has the advantage of being dedicated; the BBC took coverage for granted and gave a fairly poor service; Channel 4 was better except for the GeeGee's. And finally, Pietersen and Flintoff are name checks for the half interested but are no more than a curiosity for fans who watch cricket and a useful page filler for journalists. Roy, Vince, Hales, Patel and that curious mix that is an effective team Lancashire, will be the ones to really watch.

  • pholpin on August 23, 2014, 6:15 GMT

    Well done George. I also believe that the lack of free-to-air coverage is the key issue. We hve to realise that cricket is a minority sport in this country, so the inevitable consequence of it being less visible is that it will become even more of a minority sport. This should come as no surprise to anyone, least of all the ECB. I, like many others, wrote to the ECB when they sold out to Sky in 2005 suggesting that this would be the long-term outcome, and it gives me no pleasure to see that we were right. I fully understand the need for generating money for the game; the mistake was to take ALL live cricket away from free-to-air. As George says, we need a third way. But the earliest this can now be implemented is 2020. By which time a whole generation of children will have grown up without cricket, and who will not be passing on any love of the game to the next generation either. Short sighted? I should say so.

  • GeoffreysMother on August 23, 2014, 6:10 GMT

    Somerset's point is a good one: Friday night cricket is great for London, people watch it after work and then go home; o.k for people in Leeds (but rubbish for people in Sheffield, Hull and Middlesborough) and tough for Somerset who draw their crowds from three or four counties.

  • TimWalton on August 23, 2014, 0:18 GMT

    I am a Member of Warwickshire and I have friends that find the entrance fees too high.

    My main objection at Edgbaston is that there was not a single day-time 20.20 or RL50 this season.

    This is ridiculous. People without their own transport find it near impossible to get home in the late evening when there are few buses. I know of people that have to catch 3 buses to get to the ground and another 3 to get home.

    The people that run Warwickshire should have more thought for the older members & split the matches 50/50 Daytime.Floodlit.

    Practically no matches on a Saturday is also crass stupidity but what does one expect from the ECB

    Are there any other counties around where there club's management are so insensitive?

  • Nick_Hertfordshire on August 22, 2014, 23:53 GMT

    T20 Finals day is the logjam preventing a sensible schedule. It probably has to be played in August, thus forcing the ECB to schedule the other limited overs competition late in the season so that everyone has some one day cricket. Better next year to play a shortened RLC group stage (3 groups of 7) in May and early June with quarter finals late June, semi finals late July and a final on August 15th which won't be settled by the toss. Start the T20 around June 10th and continue the group phase until August 21st. There are enough floodlit grounds to make this feasible. Play the quarter finals the following week, the semis as a double header at a neutral venue on Sunday September 6th (no Premier League that weekend) and the final as a stand-alone event two Sundays later. Have one two week white ball block in late July with RLC Semis on consecutive Tuesdays and T20 on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. Otherwise the Championship to run throughout the season with no gap of more than a week.

  • rolandgraves on August 22, 2014, 22:26 GMT

    Why not cut 100pct exclusivity for sky and allow the t20 blast free to air shown on live tv and leave sky to the rest? Yes, ecb will earn a bit less on the next deal but as the author says, some 3rd way is required. Give the new kids something to get inspired on.

  • on August 22, 2014, 22:16 GMT

    This is very true football is the big sport these days. The era of cricket is slowly declining I say to people just been listening to cricket on the radio or watching highlights and they reply with how boring. Personally I love cricket and although I've never been to a game live yet I listen to it and keep track of every match whether it be international or county I even look at scores for other countries it's just one thing I couldn't be without. Changes do need to be made but I question if it'll still help with football and rugby being as big as it is these days.

  • attilathecricketer on August 22, 2014, 21:35 GMT

    Sky has been good for a game I no longer get to watch on the TV or at the gate (apart from half a day at the women's test when I could get in for a fiver). But hey I'm poor so I don't matter (just hope the game doesn't mind losing volunteers who put every dime they have into playing it and running clubs)

  • Peppard11 on August 22, 2014, 21:23 GMT

    Why not use smaller grounds? Hampshire for example could take the show o the road to Portsmouth Basingstoke and perhaps stretch the boundaries to Bournemouth as they used to and maybe into Reading. This might deliver the game to a whole new audience.

    Why not offer tickets to members of local kids clubs for a nominal figure of a £1 and parents a fiver. Playing in front of an audience must be better than sparsely populated test match arenas.

    Could we look at drop in pitches at football stadia? I seem to recall this happened in the 80s.

  • PeerieTrow on August 22, 2014, 21:10 GMT

    @hampshirehog142: You could always become a member, park on the ground and support the county. My wife and I live in Somerset (having moved in 1982), 82 miles from the Bowl, and continue to travel regularly to the ground for home matches. In my experience there is a considerable amount of loutish behaviour of all descriptions at cricket matches. Amongst the worst offenders are the know all, bigoted members who sit in cliques and criticise everyone in the team, backroom staff and other members, and then rush up with their copies of the Who's Who of Cricketers pushing youngsters out of the way to demand autographs. Such behaviour from sixty-somethings must be quite disturbing to the likes of Danny Briggs. The good thing is that you can move away from them and find a spot in the ground from which you can watch the cricket in peace, or you can always respond with Mrs Brown's, "That's Nice!" Trust me, you will find more good people than bad at Hampshire CCC. Just ask @CodandChips.

  • Lymebayrobin on August 22, 2014, 21:00 GMT

    Thanks George an excellent summing up of where English cricket is in 2014.

    20/20 loses out when the England players are not allowed to play - it's as if different parts of the ECB are working with no connection at all. Promote a re-launch and then deny the competition your home-grown star players, bizarre really.

    Franchises - no thanks ok that's just my opinion but if the committed cricket fan doesn't go then who will?

    I think the key is no cricket on free to view TV will eventually kill the game. I teach in a primary school and we had 40+ children taking part in cricket club each Tuesday after school. All the children enjoyed learning the skills of the game - could they name an England cricketer - apart from 1 or 2 - no. Had they ever seen live cricket on TV again 1 or 2. Lacrosse is currently being shown on BT sports and for most children in England cricket is sadly about as relevant and viewed as Lacrosse.

    Coverage on Sky is exc. but long term?

  • Tlotoxl on August 22, 2014, 20:27 GMT

    The problem I see is that everybody in the game and most of them reporting on the game always refer to the county game as little more than a training ground for the national team.

    How on earth is it possible to get interested in a competition that is portrayed as a little more than a glorified training session with all the biggest stars missing for the virtually the entire season?

    No matter what is said in the article Cricket not on the free-to-air TV is a huge problem as well, if you never see the game how do you fall in love with it?

  • hampshirehog142 on August 22, 2014, 20:01 GMT

    Why not charge less? My wife, son and I would have gone to the Test match at the Ageas Bowl but I was not prepared to pay £60 per ticket especially as our previous days at test matches (Lord's, Oval) have been disappointing due to either insipid cricket or loutish behaviour around us. I sometimes think about going to watch Hampshire but I then see that I will have to pay an extra £5 premium because I did not book a ticket beforehand. Also I know I would have to park a mile away to avoid paying for parking and then queue for ages to purchase/collect my ticket so I am discouraged from actually going.

  • on August 22, 2014, 19:43 GMT

    I think they should drop the idea of "finals day" and change the format so that the two semi-finals are played at the home grounds of the best first and second qualifiers. This would generate two extra sources of income and would probably not reduce attendance for the finals very much/ Finals day in its present format is much too long and it is pretty boring if your team get knocked out in the first match

  • RoBoBobster on August 22, 2014, 19:41 GMT

    Highlights won't cut it for me as to anyone who doesn't understand cricket, like children it will be too fast and they won't understand. For more serious fans it is significantly less interesting to watch highlights of a match you already know the result of (although without sky I will anyway) as it doesn't realy cause any build up of tension. Cricket cannot compete in such a contest as when it is condensed down so much it becomes a meaningless flow of boundaries and wickets, not giving audiences time to take in the game. It would be far better to perhaps have occasional live games, perhaps on a red button channel or similar. It would only need to be once a fortnight (though weekly would be better) but would encourage interest probably more effectively than a highlights program, and if matches were not shown too frequently there would be more incentive to go to games in "off" weeks

  • Jezc on August 22, 2014, 19:33 GMT

    the game doesn't help itself. No England players were allowed to play in the quarter finals despite them being scheduled a week before a test match. Finals day is competing for prominence on the same day as the challenge cup final and the 2nd week of the premiership. Finals day should have been 2 or 3 weeks ago. Unfortunately we are playing to much international cricket in England meaning the box office players not playing for their counties. My county will no doubt lose Jos Buttler next season - a 20/20 game at Old Trafford doesn't seem as appealing without him

  • chazpilks on August 22, 2014, 19:21 GMT

    Maybe I'm over simplistic, but isn't the best idea to hold each tournament independently? Start the County Championship, then pause for the T20 'bash' in June. Then back to County championship Pause in August for 50 over tournament Conclude the County Championship

  • gallarate on August 22, 2014, 19:07 GMT

    why not play more afternoon weekend games or double headers?

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  • gallarate on August 22, 2014, 19:07 GMT

    why not play more afternoon weekend games or double headers?

  • chazpilks on August 22, 2014, 19:21 GMT

    Maybe I'm over simplistic, but isn't the best idea to hold each tournament independently? Start the County Championship, then pause for the T20 'bash' in June. Then back to County championship Pause in August for 50 over tournament Conclude the County Championship

  • Jezc on August 22, 2014, 19:33 GMT

    the game doesn't help itself. No England players were allowed to play in the quarter finals despite them being scheduled a week before a test match. Finals day is competing for prominence on the same day as the challenge cup final and the 2nd week of the premiership. Finals day should have been 2 or 3 weeks ago. Unfortunately we are playing to much international cricket in England meaning the box office players not playing for their counties. My county will no doubt lose Jos Buttler next season - a 20/20 game at Old Trafford doesn't seem as appealing without him

  • RoBoBobster on August 22, 2014, 19:41 GMT

    Highlights won't cut it for me as to anyone who doesn't understand cricket, like children it will be too fast and they won't understand. For more serious fans it is significantly less interesting to watch highlights of a match you already know the result of (although without sky I will anyway) as it doesn't realy cause any build up of tension. Cricket cannot compete in such a contest as when it is condensed down so much it becomes a meaningless flow of boundaries and wickets, not giving audiences time to take in the game. It would be far better to perhaps have occasional live games, perhaps on a red button channel or similar. It would only need to be once a fortnight (though weekly would be better) but would encourage interest probably more effectively than a highlights program, and if matches were not shown too frequently there would be more incentive to go to games in "off" weeks

  • on August 22, 2014, 19:43 GMT

    I think they should drop the idea of "finals day" and change the format so that the two semi-finals are played at the home grounds of the best first and second qualifiers. This would generate two extra sources of income and would probably not reduce attendance for the finals very much/ Finals day in its present format is much too long and it is pretty boring if your team get knocked out in the first match

  • hampshirehog142 on August 22, 2014, 20:01 GMT

    Why not charge less? My wife, son and I would have gone to the Test match at the Ageas Bowl but I was not prepared to pay £60 per ticket especially as our previous days at test matches (Lord's, Oval) have been disappointing due to either insipid cricket or loutish behaviour around us. I sometimes think about going to watch Hampshire but I then see that I will have to pay an extra £5 premium because I did not book a ticket beforehand. Also I know I would have to park a mile away to avoid paying for parking and then queue for ages to purchase/collect my ticket so I am discouraged from actually going.

  • Tlotoxl on August 22, 2014, 20:27 GMT

    The problem I see is that everybody in the game and most of them reporting on the game always refer to the county game as little more than a training ground for the national team.

    How on earth is it possible to get interested in a competition that is portrayed as a little more than a glorified training session with all the biggest stars missing for the virtually the entire season?

    No matter what is said in the article Cricket not on the free-to-air TV is a huge problem as well, if you never see the game how do you fall in love with it?

  • Lymebayrobin on August 22, 2014, 21:00 GMT

    Thanks George an excellent summing up of where English cricket is in 2014.

    20/20 loses out when the England players are not allowed to play - it's as if different parts of the ECB are working with no connection at all. Promote a re-launch and then deny the competition your home-grown star players, bizarre really.

    Franchises - no thanks ok that's just my opinion but if the committed cricket fan doesn't go then who will?

    I think the key is no cricket on free to view TV will eventually kill the game. I teach in a primary school and we had 40+ children taking part in cricket club each Tuesday after school. All the children enjoyed learning the skills of the game - could they name an England cricketer - apart from 1 or 2 - no. Had they ever seen live cricket on TV again 1 or 2. Lacrosse is currently being shown on BT sports and for most children in England cricket is sadly about as relevant and viewed as Lacrosse.

    Coverage on Sky is exc. but long term?

  • PeerieTrow on August 22, 2014, 21:10 GMT

    @hampshirehog142: You could always become a member, park on the ground and support the county. My wife and I live in Somerset (having moved in 1982), 82 miles from the Bowl, and continue to travel regularly to the ground for home matches. In my experience there is a considerable amount of loutish behaviour of all descriptions at cricket matches. Amongst the worst offenders are the know all, bigoted members who sit in cliques and criticise everyone in the team, backroom staff and other members, and then rush up with their copies of the Who's Who of Cricketers pushing youngsters out of the way to demand autographs. Such behaviour from sixty-somethings must be quite disturbing to the likes of Danny Briggs. The good thing is that you can move away from them and find a spot in the ground from which you can watch the cricket in peace, or you can always respond with Mrs Brown's, "That's Nice!" Trust me, you will find more good people than bad at Hampshire CCC. Just ask @CodandChips.

  • Peppard11 on August 22, 2014, 21:23 GMT

    Why not use smaller grounds? Hampshire for example could take the show o the road to Portsmouth Basingstoke and perhaps stretch the boundaries to Bournemouth as they used to and maybe into Reading. This might deliver the game to a whole new audience.

    Why not offer tickets to members of local kids clubs for a nominal figure of a £1 and parents a fiver. Playing in front of an audience must be better than sparsely populated test match arenas.

    Could we look at drop in pitches at football stadia? I seem to recall this happened in the 80s.