Twenty20 tournaments will benefit English cricket - Vaughan
Cricket is historically slow at grasping the nettle but few countries have been able to resist the buzz of lucrative Twenty20 tournaments, and former England captain Michael Vaughan believes the format can only be good for Test cricket and, specifically, English cricket. While other cricket boards have embraced the lucrative Champions League Twenty20, the ECB has been keen to keep a lid on the excitement and is apparently in no mood to change its domestic calendar to accommodate the tournament this September.
Vaughan, in Bangalore as part of the England Under-18 set-up, reiterated his view that embracing such Twenty20 tournaments could only be beneficial to English cricket.
"I think the game's moved. In a positive sense, it has gone forward. Test-match cricket is still the ultimate game, and the lads coming up all want to play for England in the Test arena," he told Cricinfo. "But they realise that Twenty20 plays a big part in the county and international setup and of course with all the leagues coming up. They'll all first and foremost want to play for England but they will be aware of the big leagues being set up and we need to find the right balance. We need to embrace Twenty20.
"If you're good enough to play one format you're generally good enough to play all three, and players will want to develop their skills in all three, and that can only be good for English cricket. If you're talking about back in county cricket, where players are already established, then yes, playing in Twenty20 tournaments gives the players much to gain from."
Vaughan recently criticised the ECB for its "arrogant" stance against the BCCI and its role in promoting the Champions League, writing in the Daily Telegraph that county players must play in such tournaments "to earn a few quid and get a massive buzz from playing in big grounds in front of decent crowds, something they never experience at home".
He believes the ECB in particular is still wearing blinkers and that is important that England, at the grassroots level, embraces the opportunity to participate in international Twenty20 leagues with an eye on the next generation of players. "It can only be good and you've got to start at an early stage," he said. "Look at the lads touring here for this short trip. They need exposure, as do the players in county cricket, and nowadays that comes largely through Twenty20.
"Twenty20 is positive because Test cricket needs to be looked at. We need good teams playing each other and playing attractive, aggressive cricket. The product has to be good. If we can produce a more exciting kind of Test cricket where you hit the ball harder and score faster that's going to be more entertaining to watch, so in the long run Test cricket will gain from what Twenty20 has brought."
As a former international, Vaughan's role with the U-18 squad is that of batting consultant, but his responsibilities also include sharing his experiences with the youngsters. More than just the technical aspects of the game, he hoped such visits to India would enhance the players' minds and views and prepare them for the future.
"I've played a number of Tests in the subcontinent, more over in Sri Lanka, and a lot of one-dayers, so I know how to talk to the lads," he said. "It's all about adapting to the conditions - the heat, the humidity, especially, and the pitches. Experiences like this - being away from home for two weeks for the first time - allows you get used to a different kind of lifestyle, food, and surfaces. Importantly they get to play a lot of spinners, with their varieties. Hopefully they can develop as players and as people and that's good for them and for English cricket. We need that."
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo