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The backlash to T20's slow Americanisation of cricket was inevitable; it's just a surprise it took so long. Yet it has now emerged that a group of hard-line county cricket supporters, headed by the redoubtable Yorkshire member Frank Wisdom, has successfully lobbied the ECB to excise the "razzle-dazzle codswallop" from the game and have the counties re-re-branded in a manner that more faithfully reflects their roots.
"I'm not interested in seeing whether Lanky the Giraffe can beat Jose the Hawk in a 60-metre dash," grumbled Wisdom, in a state of incipient inebriation as he held forth on several of the worrying trends afflicting the game that has defined his life. "And I don't need to see a dancing semi-naked girl in order to appreciate a good outswinger successfully defended to extra cover, much as I don't need to be contemplating Ted Dexter's cover drive when I'm staring at a semi-naked lady. The two don't mix."
His real bugbear with this new-fangled modern cricketing razzmatazz was the "stupid bloody names" given to teams in an effort to attract new sponsors. "Turd-polishing. I blame the Yanks. They can't call a spade a bloody spade over there."
He had a point, did Frank, regarding the bombast and bluster of sports Stateside. "We started to copy everything the Yanks did, with their 'super deluxe' this and 'mega' that. And look what's happened. Kids nowadays won't eat a packet of sweets unless they're called something like Fist or Skullsmashers. It's not right."
The more I thought about it, the clearer it all became: the names of American sports franchises did indeed all seem to connote force, strength, aggression, stealth, superiority, or overweening pride in local identity, all serving to promote an unhealthy obsession with winning, a triumphalism, a tribalism. In order to convey this virility and might, the nicknames appear to be drawn from the following broad categories:
Predatory animals: San Jose Sharks, Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Toronto Raptors, Phoenix Coyotes, Minnesota Timberwolves;
Extreme weather: Colorado Avalanche, Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, Oklahoma City Thunder;
Warrior tribes: Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins, Chicago Blackhawks;
Engineering power/ speed: Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, New York Jets;
Professions of authority/ "masculinity": Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Sacramento Kings, Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Steelers;
Charismatic outsider figures: Pittsurgh Pirates, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers;
Mythology: Tennessee Titans, Washington Wizards;
Symbols of local identity: Philadelphia 76'ers, New York Yankees, Toronto Maple Leafs, Dallas Cowboys, Boston Celtics.
To Frank's evident dismay, English cricket's counties, in a lamentable effort to bring - or drag - the game to a shiny new audience, have followed the American lead, re-branding themselves with such predictable labels as Sussex Sharks, Nottinghamshire Outlaws (combining local symbol and dangerous figure), Glamorgan Dragons, Lancashire Lightning and, er, Yorkshire Carnegie. Other nations have done exactly the same. Take the IPL. Or Australia, where the Big Bash marketing men spent all of 14 minutes trawling through the dog-eared options for the names of the eight city franchises: Renegades, Hurricanes, Thunder, Heat, Scorchers…
So, armed with 23,857 signatures on a petition and a reservoir of contempt, Wisdom relayed these concerns to the authorities, demanding a set of anti-glamour nicknames for the counties, names that were truthful, downbeat, matter-of-fact - names that dealt with the everyday weather of the British Isles; with the modern social types that people it, rather than its ancient tribes; with the kinds of vague post-industrial jobs that its citizens begrudgingly carry out; with animals that represent not so much ruthless killing but furry irritation; with domestic appliances rather than mighty feats of engineering (which have been beyond us since we outsourced everything except financial services); and with truthful symbols of local identity.
After some initial teething trouble - Australian branding guru and "ideagineer" Murray Darling had to have the inappropriateness of Yorkshire Rippers explained to him - here is the provisional list, the adoption of which for the 2013 season's CB40 and FPt20 competitions awaits rubber-stamping by Mr Wisdom and the ECB:
Derbyshire Drizzle, Durham Dollies, Essex Slappers, Glamorgan Drag-Ons, Gloucestershire Glamour Models, Hampshire Heave, Kent Gardeners, Lancashire Hot-Pots, Leicestershire Larrup, Middlesex Metrosexuals, Northamptonshire Nibble, Nottinghamshire Uzi, Somerset Snorters, Surrey Bankers, Sussex Sexologists, Warwickshire Wossisfoices, Worcestershire Sauce, Yorkshire Puddings
And they did the Minor Counties, too:
Bedfordshire Snooze, Berkshire Berks, Buckinghamshire Fizz, Cambridgeshire Boffins, Cheshire Cats, Cornwall Separatists, Cumberland Cumulonimbus, Devon Custards, Dorset Druids, Herefordshire Hedgehogs, Hertfordshire Commuters, Lincolnshire Sausages, Norfolk Endogamy, Northumberland Nudgers, Oxfordshire Establishment, Staffordshire Jobseekers, Suffolk Suffixes, Wiltshire Pagans
The mascots, logos and kit are being awaited with great interest and will be reported in due course.
Scott Oliver tweets here
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