S.N. Don's blog

My T20 Competition is better than yours

There has been a bit of a news fest this last week what with the usually excellent Daily Telegraph spouting “Revolution: ECB plan English cricket’s most radical ever overhaul with T20 competition to rival IPL and Big Bash”.

Apparently, a number of ECB officials have been working on this for a fair few months with the prospect of one live match per week to be available on terrestrial television starting in 2018. However, if reports are to be believed, the counties are more than happy to keep the existing T20 Blast. If the ECB proposal goes ahead then England will be the only country with two domestic T20 competitions in its domestic calendar. Utter madness!

The Derby Telegraph sums up T20 perfectly. Mark Eklid has penned one of the quotes of the year when he said “For me, t20 is cricket for people who don't really like cricket in the same way as fizzy lager is for people who don't really like beer. Funnily enough, drinking fizzy lager and watching t20 seem to walk very comfortably hand in hand.” I wish I had written that!

Just what is the ECB doing by fiddling around with a competition that the counties are happy with? When you look at tickets sold, Somerset, Worcestershire and Essex play their home games to capacity or near capacity crowds. Hardly surprising though as their combined capacity is less than 20,000. What about the counties with grounds that have Test status I hear you ask. This doesn’t look as good as Notts, Yorkshire, Birmingham, Glamorgan, Hampshire and Durham have sold less than 50% of the available tickets. Durham have struggled to get to 24% sold. Middlesex and Surrey are exempt from my examinations as you could have teams of traffic wardens playing and they would still sell out.

This brings me to the conclusion that there are too many teams in the current format but what of the rest of the world. The IPL 2016 ran with 8 teams. The Caribbean Premier League has 6. Big Bash weighs in with a hefty 8 teams with Melbourne and Sydney having 4 teams between them. Even Bangladesh has 8 teams. I have long believed that cricket has too many professional counties and that there needs to be a serious overhaul of the county game as I don’t think that two divisions is the answer.

My proposal for the new T20 Blast is really quite simple. Take the 18 first class counties and combine them in groups of 3. For example:

Team A: Durham, Yorkshire, Derbyshire
Team B: Lancashire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire
Team C: Glamorgan, Somerset, Gloucestershire
Team D: Kent, Surrey, Sussex
Team E: Essex, Middlesex, Hampshire
Team F: Leicestershire, Northants, Nottinghamshire

If you want to increase the number of teams to 8, to bring it in line with most of the other competitions, invites could be issued to Ireland and Scotland. Select the 5 best players from each county with an additional 2 overseas players. I would prefer to see the games played on the bigger grounds to maximise revenue and to give the players a taste of playing in front of bigger crowds. Who knows, it might even unearth some untapped quality for the national side.

And if this works, why not try something similar for the 4 day version. That’s another story though.

S.N. Don

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