County news April 19, 2017

Trego suggests darts-style revamp for English T20

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What can T20 learn from darts?

Peter Trego, the Somerset allrounder whose uncomplicated dedication to entertainment has earned him a cult following in Taunton, believes that the ECB could save itself a lot of time and effort in its revamping of domestic T20 cricket by copying the methods of another sport that has undergone a drastic image change: darts.

With county cricket on the brink of a radical overhaul that will usher in a new T20 tournament from 2020 onwards, Trego's exploits in the more bucolic environments of Taunton have helped to serve a reminder of the existing competition's merits.

And while he is not averse to changes that will place T20 cricket at the centre of the ECB's strategy for revitalising the sport in England and Wales, he did question the need to rip the competition up and start again.

Instead, he suggested, the stunning success currently being enjoyed by professional darts is proof that a product is only as good as the marketing that surrounds it.

"I think it's great that we are trying to move with the times and the other countries," Trego told ESPNcricinfo. "The one thing I would say is that our T20 competition is quite a strong competition viewership-wise anyway, so why not spend all that money and use all that marketing ability to make what we've got better?

"You look at what they've done in professional darts, they've made that sport into a phenomenon. And really, if you look at it as a spectator sport, you could be 100 metres away from a darts board the size of a dinner plate - but, because they've incorporated all the razzmatazz, it's going from strength to strength. The stag dos and the hen dos are all going to them. It seems a great time."

Trego's flamboyant personality, epitomised by a glut of tattoos on both arms, would not look out of place up on the oche, alongside such showmen as Peter "Snakebite" Wright. But, as a steadily growing number of fans would attest, the skills on show at the highest level of professional darts more than match the hype that currently surrounds it.

One hundred and eighty... for six? Peter Trego is a cricket showman in the darts mould © Getty Images

No event encapsulates this more than the annual PDC World Championship at Alexandra Palace - a two-week extravaganza that spans Christmas and New Year, and unashamedly taps into the festive vibe. In 2015, the tournament attracted peak viewing figures of 1.5 million in the UK alone.

And, if Trego feels undersold as arguably the finest county allrounder never to have played for England, then he is entitled to cast envious glances at the glut of darts stars that are busy becoming household names as their sport rides the crest of a wave.

The current PDC world champion, Michael van Gerwen, is widely considered to be the most talented player of all time. And, in a far cry from darts' origins as a pub-based pastime, the event's most famous winner, the 14-time champion, Phil "The Power" Taylor, is these days a serious contender to be Britain's greatest sportsman.

County cricket, Trego believes, just isn't pushing its merits in the same way.

"My perception of our T20 is that it is always slightly hamstrung," he said. "I know in particular you play at Lord's and there are certain times when you can't have the lights up or the music too loud. It's time that cricket will hopefully banish those things, and really move with the times."

Amid all the uncertainty about cricket's future look and feel, however, Trego is confident that his home ground is well placed to thrive in the brave new world - and this summer's maiden T20 against South Africa at Taunton on June 23 will be a timely opportunity to showcase its merits.

"We get 2000-3000 to every day of championship cricket, which is quite unique, and we sell out virtually every limited-overs game as well," Trego said. "The ground recently got international status, so I'm hoping we'll get a fair share of this new T20 league, as and when it happens."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kentheavenonearth on April 21, 2017, 8:43 GMT

    -hee-hee, it's true that Adams' northern grit is sadly missed at Sussex, or hungry Hollioakes at sorry Surrey. A bit like 70s and 80s southern footie teams until big cash presh' arrived, we need kick up comfort backside! Nouve Rod is ultimately good for south. If they plump for 'Western Wild' will adopt them as my second team, Taunton being a terrific weekend summer run with ace cricket culture - shame they'll have to share 'Smash' tournament vibe with rugger boyos and underachieving apathetic Bristolians.

  • Nutcutlet on April 21, 2017, 6:45 GMT

    Ledcult: It's just occurred to me... We could use rock-types to name the new teams: Southern Chalks, Northern Granites, Slaters, Limestoners (soon to be called Limeys!), the Gneiss team, and so on! On the Moh scale the southern team would still be the softies! At least it would get away from the inane ersatz names that the ECB - and the ECB's little helpers - would come up with. I am allergic to marketeering jargon, 'going forward'.

  • Ledcult on April 20, 2017, 18:46 GMT

    Kentheavenonearth, sorry, the name has been instigated, in fact was placed years ago. 'Southern Softies' and it will be an apt moniker.

  • Narkovian on April 20, 2017, 11:46 GMT

    Oh dear... Just moved down to ther West Country to live. If Trego gets his way.. remind me not to bother to go to Taunton!! If anything will put me off its "darts-like" so called entertainment. Stag and hen dos!! for goodness sake.. RIP cricket. In any case. If ECB are going to make T20 the be all and end all of Domestic cricket.. its good bye cricket anyway.

  • Kentheavenonearth on April 20, 2017, 11:23 GMT

    The key is free to air at least twice weekly in an 8 week block, otherwise big waste of money to marketing firms. The Blast is doing well and they needn't have created an entirely new tournament, which surely will kill county T20. Feel sorry for Chelmsford, Northampton, Leicester and Worcester who likely won't get to share hosting. 'Southern Scorchers' MUST also play some games at Brighton/Hove and Canterbury, Mr. Bransgrove!

  • John-Price on April 20, 2017, 10:42 GMT

    Each sport has its own niche, it should concentrate on building that not trying to be something else. To suggest it should look to darts for inspiration is like saying that Glyndebourne should model itself on Glastonbury.

    Trying to structure cricket so that it appeals to people who can't stand cricket is idiotic. The most successful cricket venue is Lords which has no razzmatazz whatsoever and people travel the world to see matches there. The same applies to Wimbledon, the least flamboyant of all tennis events. The lesson is build on your strengths.

  • cricfan0115690251 on April 20, 2017, 10:13 GMT

    Clearly Trego is looking for the ECB to create more of an IPL type experience. Whilst I watch the IPL and enjoy much of the cricket on show, the first word that always comes to mind when I think of it is 'tacky'. Ludicrous opportunities taken for advertising and stupid things like 'strategic timeouts', sponsored of course! Why do we have to copy this rubbish (as I understand it, darts is similar to this!) Another example of how T20 will eventually kill the game of cricket!

  • bigfrank on April 20, 2017, 9:57 GMT

    Surely the CA T20 gouge is called the Bash not the Blast,Elsmallo...

  • elsmallo on April 20, 2017, 8:57 GMT

    I will listen to Pete Trego, he is a cricketer of legend. I actually think the main problem with the UK's domestic T20 League is its name. 'The Natwest Blast'. It's not even owned by the country, it's owned by Natwest, for a start. I know the IPL is currently sponsored by Pepsi, but it's has an independent identity. Also, 'Blast' is already associated with the Australian competition. A new name is needed that people will be able to associate with the competition. I can't think of one. But I shall carry on, maybe it will occur to me after I've had my breakfast.

  • jackiethepen on April 20, 2017, 7:57 GMT

    I don't see why every County ground can't be its unique self. Some will go for razzmatazz more than others - not Lords - and not Durham which goes more for the lads night out but with more old fashioned values thrown in. You've got to know your locals and what makes them tick. I thought the Friday night outing was an inspiration. It just about ticks every box when it comes to T20. And the families get to come too. Most grounds look after themselves when it comes to where to sit. And the noisy stands stay noisy and the family stands stay family. At international one day matches our teenagers chose to sit with the Barmy Army - they found it more fun. and what sets Durham aside is that tradition of fun - getting dressed up in different costumes is an old tradition here. The ECB aren't listening to the Counties. The ECB lacks imagination and is behaving more like a dying supermarket chain than a sports development body. Eight venues! It's pathetic.

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