More obituaries have been written about cricket than after a lively night at Passchendaele. The latest doom-monger, Vic Marks, mourns the death of the 50 overs format, proclaiming it has been gunned down by the ECB’s much-anticipated new speed thrash.
Apparently many one-dayers will be consigned to outgrounds and also overseas players are banned. And these are bad developments? I laughed so much reading these pearls of wisdom my false teeth would have went flying if I’d had any.
The Royal London cup has been scheduled to take place at the same time as the new competition IN 2020 and, according to some of the people who fly around the world watching cricket on expenses, this means it will become ‘a backwater for the not-so-good’.
The fact the ECB has downgraded the final to Trent Bridge is added proof, claim the elite.
Instead, I suppose, traditional cricket fans will be joining beer monsters, women and children in the party and family stands flocking to see the superstars at the extraordinary 100 ball whatnot.
But maybe not. Are the prospects really that bad? Major grounds will be out-of-bounds for the duration of the 100 and this is an ideal opportunity to reconnect even more with outgrounds – especially if tickets are priced generously at say £10. What’s more, the fact that overseas players are banned from playing means more opportunities for homegrown talent.
Of course some top local players will be required for the franchise teams but this is not the disaster some are predicting.
In fact, far from signalling a death-knell, this is music to my ears and from the soundings I’ve made amongst Lancashire members this is right up their street too. Local grounds, local lads, what’s not to like? Apart from the fact that Lancashire have just claimed a ground in the Yorkshire Dales for a home fixture, it’s all good.
This won’t be the perfect breeding-ground for our ODI players of the future they say. Well, why not? These commentators have been subsumed by the idea of excellence and elitism and that ‘not so good’ are not welcome. I’ve had enormous fun watching ‘journeymen’ make a positive impact in limited overs cricket. So what if they are not ever going to make an England squad that travels the globe playing less than half a dozen decent teams?
And how many of a club’s best up-and-coming young players will even make the 100 franchise squads?
For me and many others watching locally nurtured players perform is far more rewarding than a mercenary or paying top dollar for a circus act. Is there really more thrills now that a single player can batter a dozen sixes? Is 500 runs the Holy Grail with big lumpy bats, restricted fields and balls that don’t swing? Is this really more entertaining than watching Clive Lloyd or Viv Richards carve apart the opposition or grapple with Mike Hendrick? Or indeed seeing Gavaskar carry his bat for 36 in a 60 overs game!
Personally I hope the opportunity to play at more local grounds at the height of summer will woo a few more back to the game while the bish-bash-bosh brigade go elsewhere.
But these venues are invariably tightly-packed and close to the action and have a completely different atmosphere to some of the larger grounds dotted with a few speccies.
Bring it on.