Friday, 9 April 2010

Is it summer?!

Yes, there are a couple of buds on the most ambitious of trees – it must be cricket season. As has been repeatedly reported for the last week, the counties kick off the championship today earlier in the year than ever before basically at the behest of the Board of Cricket Control for India so they can play some more pointless Twenty20 in September. Of course it feels like 99% of the populace have no idea what the County Championship is.

Unfortunately the ECB’s meek climb-down to cricket’s global powerhouse hasn’t been greeted with the covering of snow it deserved (which much of the country had a week ago) but what is looking like it will be a very pleasant weekend to bowl seam-up on a greentop. You never know, there might even be some positive results if the rain stays off for a couple of days. Despite rising crowds in the four day game, this year half this season’s championship games will be played by the end of May, or the start of summer as it’s commonly known, to accommodate yet more Twenty20, which suffered from lower crowds last year, some of which will include additional overseas prima donnas to stretch county budgets further. Can we not leave the complete over-the-top grandstanding of the most one-dimensional form of the game to the IPL? The original T20 Cup worked well because it was new, cheap (£6 at Old Trafford in the first year, £18 at Liverpool last), brief and exciting; however, there were also only 3 or 4 home games for each county

A hidden product of this early start was the shift in date for the Cricketforce weekend, dubbed the biggest volunteer event in the country by the ECB, into March which, at Sefton at least – admittedly never the greatest club so far as volunteering goes – led to fairly scant attendances for both the preseason players meeting, season launch fundraising event and Saturday’s work for bringing the grounds and facilities up to scratch for the forthcoming season. The reason given that Cricketforce couldn’t be this weekend, immediately prior to our season, was that the occasional county pro wouldn’t be able to give a sightscreen a lick of paint to promote the whole shebang – something that a handful of clubs nationally benefit from. To many cricketers and club members, the thought of going to a cricket club before April is apparently completely alien so it’s hardly any wonder we were left with an unfulfilling race night.

I wonder if Lalit Modi would consider sharing any of his or the BCCI’s millions to refund the difference?

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