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Help Us Daryl, You’re Our Only Hope

For those of us who have loved and cherished county cricket all our lives, the ECB’s new Hundred proposal (or Harrison’s Harebrained Hundred as I like to call it) is probably our darkest hour. We need help to stop this monstrosity that takes the money we’ve all invested in the game – through ticket purchases and Sky subscriptions – and then spends it on a competition that isn’t for us.

The Hundred is a terrible concept that ignores and quite frankly insults existing cricket fans. It takes the best players away from the forms of cricket that are for us (the county championship and / or the domestic 50 over competition) and may also threaten the counties’ relevance and therefore the whole fabric of our existing domestic structure.

I was therefore encouraged to read, as I’m sure many of you were, that the PCA could end up blocking the new tournament (henceforth referred to as HHH). According to the PCA chairman Daryl Mitchell, a county stalwart and much respected former captain of Worcestershire, the players are somewhat nonplussed at the idea of HHH and have major concerns. Although Mitchell was diplomatic in his language, one sentence really resonated: “there is no competition without any players”.

Could the PCA lead a players revolt that blocks HHH? I would think it’s very unlikely. The players are paid by their counties who in turn receive a major part of their funding from the ECB. Several players will also earn an absolute killing from the event. Indeed, the ECB have quite wilily suggested that a place in each HHH squad could be reserved for standout performers in The Blast; therefore unheralded players who missed out on the draft could yet get a taste of the HHH pie.

Having said that, however, the players seem well in tune with the fans on this one. Mitchell reiterated that the PCA is still “very keen that the pinnacle of the domestic game is the Championship and the pinnacle of the international game is Test cricket”. This would have been music to most cricket supporters’ ears. What’s more, every little surely counts. It would definitely be harder to the ECB to progress HHH if the players, as well as the supporters, were opposed to the idea. After all, who wants to watch cricket involving players who aren’t invested in the action?

Consequently, it’s quite possible that the PCA is our best hope of stopping this horrendous bastard of a competition. It’s very hard for us supporters to do anything because the ECB can simply say “it’s not for you”. Supporters boycotting the event therefore won’t have any impact. In fact, the ECB are probably aware that they’ve alienated most existing fans and therefore they won’t be counting on us to boost attendances anyway.

The players, however, are a different matter entirely. The ECB actually need the players; therefore they’re much harder to ignore and they can’t simply be told to pipe down.

There is one other hope that I should mention, however. And that’s the ECB’s own incompetence. Check out this little nugget from Mitchell’s statement:

“The likes of Root and Stokes will be allocated to a team for marketing purposes, but they won’t be playing. The ECB made the point that this new audience won’t necessarily know who Stokes and Root are anyway”.

With logic like this there’s every chance that the ECB will end up defeating itself. Perhaps we should just lie back, watch the suits tie themselves up in knots, and enjoy the show as the whole sorry idea collapses on its arse.

Unfortunately, however, English cricket cannot afford for this event to fail. The stakes are simply too high. So help us Obi Wan Daryl, you’re our only hope. Someone inside cricket has to restore a little sanity somewhere along the line.

James Morgan

2018-05-10T11:53:13+00:00 May 10th, 2018|Talking Points|27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Don Root May 10, 2018 at 11:22 am - Reply

    If T 20 doesn’t bring in the required “low attention span audience” how on earth is a new competition along similar lines going to do it. The county championship continues to be undermined and underestimated by the ECB. There has always been a tremendous latent interest in county cricket , as the number of hits on the BBC website would indicate.There is lack of balance in the cricket fixtures which most cricket fans find most saddening. Why oh why do we need a one day competition between England and Australia in June? No don’t bother answering that………..

  2. jennyah46 May 10, 2018 at 11:28 am - Reply

    You are right James. Daryl Mitchell and the PCA are our only chance of finding some sort of solution to this ludicrous 100 ball pie in the sky effort. As has been said over and over the money should have gone to the Blast, providing the ECB allowed it to remain uncorrupted. With the help of the PCA perhaps the ECB could come up with a game of cricket relevant to all of us although I’m very happy with test cricket and the County Championship as it is. T20 and the ODI’s adequately fill any gaps that remain. I cannot see the need for another format in an already overcrowded schedule.

  3. Growltiger May 10, 2018 at 11:34 am - Reply

    How can it make sense for Root and Stokes to be in the publicity material if the target audience doesn’t know who they are anyway? Presumably 0+0=0.

  4. James Morgan May 10, 2018 at 11:56 am - Reply

    The whole idea of trying to appeal (exclusively) to a new audience is completely nuts. As Elizabeth Ammon said on Twitter the other day “I don’t like opera, so why would I suddenly want to watch it if they made it shorter?”

  5. JackieL May 10, 2018 at 12:32 pm - Reply

    I like the PR great selling line for the competition: it’s basically very simple, designed to appeal to mums and kids.

  6. SimonH May 10, 2018 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    The second sentence of the Mitchell quote has been getting most attention – but what about the first? Isn’t this clear mis-selling? Perhaps somebody will bring a test case because, after all, Colin Graves does like a nice law suit.

    I hope Ireland have a great day tomorrow – however the news that Australia have cancelled their Test series against Bangladesh combined with Kohli missing the Afghanistan Test tells us more about where the game is heading. The Big Three are still only really interested in playing each other and everyone else gets the crumbs.

    • James May 11, 2018 at 2:07 pm - Reply

      Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there will be any play in Ireland today. Credit to Pakistan for playing them, though.

  7. Doug M May 10, 2018 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    I still would like an explanation from the ECB of how they have come to the conclusion that young mum’s and kids will flock to this nonsense. For the life of me I can t imagine them turning up to a boozy Friday night slogathon. I don’t like Football and no amount of tinkering would get me to go to it or watch it on TV. Even if it were 5 minutes a side with players in funny hats and samurai wrestlers squirting hot chocolate on the crowd, it would put me of even more. There is no logic here, it’s a vanity project at best that hopefully will disappear down the toilet without a trace.

  8. Comte May 10, 2018 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    I’ve already posted elsewhere today that Mitch and his fellow pros could be the ones who make the ECB see sense. It’s quite obvious that, like those trying to organise Brexit, that the ECB hasn’t a bloody clue what it’s doing.

  9. Lord Ted May 10, 2018 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    I agree with most of the sentiments in James’ article and those of the posters above. However, James’ point about the counties position on the issue is worth considering. They all stand to trouser at least £1.3m per annum from the ECB’s answer to “Jeux sans frontieres” for ( I think) 5 years. The new competition formatting dogs dinner also leaves them with control of the domestic T20 competition & when you add to that a test series will be in progress during the JSF window, they are laughing all the way to the bank. I would not bet against the PCA obtaining concessions from the ECB, in answer to their concerns about roughly half of their membership having to kick their heels through August, in which case we may also see some County cricket being played at this time.

    The counties can sit back & watch the ghastly train wreck unfold in front of them and if anything see their position strengthened as JSF crashes & burns. Can “the Grocer” & Harrison really survive this?

  10. Kenaz May 10, 2018 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    The counties seem to have went along with it because it will maintain The Blast as the sole Twenty20 competition – that and the 1.3 million – but I bet a few of them are secretly seeing this as car crash television: sit back and enjoy the wreckage, and at the end of it The Blast and the counties’ position will be strengthened, the ECB chastised. Don’t forget that there is a lot of discontent in the shires: the Durham crucifixion; the cash inducements to not host test matches; a lack of probity and transparency; annoyance of test players being withdrawn from county duty. Some counties might be silently hoping this will see the back of the ECB.

  11. Marc Evans May 10, 2018 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    What disturbs me most about this competition is how ex and present players seem to be rallying around it, hoping for its success and believing it will promote a new generation of cricket watchers and bring in pots of dosh. The interviewing journalists seem to be hamstrung not to ask the obvious question about how this format is going to attract a different audience from its existing doppelgänger the 20-20. Whether it’s sponsorship pressure I don’t know, but not one of these players has been put on the spot this way. The only voice of real discontent I’ve heard is from Willis, whom Sky seem to use as the token balancing act a lot.

  12. Kenaz May 10, 2018 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    Yes, Broad and Root speaking in perfect ”ECB-Speak”. It is strange being on the admin’s payroll makes you lose your bollocks these days. Couldn’t imagine a Trueman or Close doing that.

  13. SimonH May 11, 2018 at 9:22 am - Reply

    https://twitter.com/MacdougallJoe/status/994842545749413888

    I have it on good authority (i.e. I’m making it up as I go along) that this is a nonsense cover story planted in an attempted to make this shambles look slightly less of a shambles. Conveniently, it implies more secrecy rather than proper consultation and research as the great lesson the ECB should be learning from all this.

  14. James May 11, 2018 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    never mind Daryl Mitchell. His views are nothing compared to those of PCA founder Fred Rumsey, as reported in Cricinfo.

    “Fred Rumsey, who set up the PCA (the players’ union) in 1967, has reminded the current management that their only concern should be “representing the interests of players”.

    He is particularly disappointed at the prospect of an eight-team competition, which will exclude the involvement of more than half of current PCA members, and is concerned the association may be powerless to prevent the new, 100-ball-a-side competition, which he dismisses as such a “ludicrous” idea it “should be played in clowns’ clothing”.”

  15. SimonH May 11, 2018 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    The ECB and Simon Hughes couldn’t deserve each other more….

    https://twitter.com/theanalyst/status/994913301657251840

    • oreston May 11, 2018 at 6:12 pm - Reply

      What an absolute tool that man is.

  16. Andy Cheese May 11, 2018 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Just make the T20 Blast free to air on TV. This is all that’s needed – the ECB could also put the 100 ball budget into it. If this doesn’t fix the problem (and the ECB haven’t said what the problem is yet) then just give up. This 100 ball stuff is just a smoke screen by the ECB so nobody will notice that they have destroyed cricket for the masses by taking it off free to air. When was the last time you heard parliament discussing cricket? it wasn’t whilst Sky ot BT had the TV rights.

    • Glenn May 11, 2018 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      A selection of English county T20 matches should have been on BBC, C5, C4, ITV4 etc from 2006. But I suppose Sky wanted all the English cricket to blackmail people into paying for Sky sports.

  17. Fred Boycott May 11, 2018 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    Quote of the day….

    “And then we learn there is to be a ludicrous new competition – this 100-ball nonsense that sounds as if was the idea of Fred Karno [credited as the inventor of slapstick comedy] “.

    – Fred Rumsey

    • Glenn May 11, 2018 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      They could make the game quicker by recording it then showing it speeded up with the Benny Hill music.

  18. SimonH May 12, 2018 at 10:37 am - Reply

    Magnificent from “your home of cricket” – show half an hour of Ireland’s first Test and then FO to the IPL….

  19. SimonH May 12, 2018 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    The DM reckon Gubbins is coming in to replace Stoneman. Livingstone apparently impressed in NZ despite not playing a match and he hasn’t scored a CC fifty this season.

    At least with Strauss, Bayliss, Root, Newell and Fraser attending the meeting, the new chairman won’t be lonely. I’m sure he’ll find all those taking collective responsibility if it all goes pear-shaped.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-5719811/England-ready-try-Nick-Gubbins-against-Pakistan-Lords-Test.html

  20. SimonH May 14, 2018 at 9:11 am - Reply

    The ECB present Ollie Holy with an open goal – and he thunks it into Row Z:

    https://twitter.com/OllieHolt22/status/995903072797904896

    I’m no fan of the ECB or the T16.66 (obviously) but it explicitly is not designed to appeal to boozers.

  21. Cricket-Now May 15, 2018 at 6:14 am - Reply

    can someone please stop this nonsense? I don’t care who it is but somebody has to stand up and restore sanity to cricket! please!!!!

  22. Simon H May 19, 2018 at 7:42 am - Reply

    Classic “We must do something” + “This is something” = “We must do this”:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-5745749/The-game-Ian-Botham-gives-backing-ECBs-controversial-idea.html

  23. Simon H May 21, 2018 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    Sam Collins hitting so many nails on the head here:

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/23561156/why-100-ball-cricket-make-difference-era-binge-watching

    ‘The Hundred’ has obscured other key – maybe more key – faults in the ECB’s plans. I’ve written here before about ticket prices, Collins reminds us how little of this competition is going to be FTA. Who’s going to get engrossed in a narraitive that is three-quarters somewhere else? (Unless the ECB are dreaming that people are going to be saying, “this is great – I’ll now buy Sky so I can watch the rest”. That is probably what they’re thinking….).

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