Today we have an article from Paul Potter, who is one of our Australian readers. He’s been following our recent discussions about the county championship with interest and has a rather interesting take on things. He certainly offers food for thought and, quite frankly, it’s good to see that people from other countries have faith in our domestic product. More than the ECB do anyway. Over to you, Paul …
The IPL features many a full toss, but it is not a tournament for The Full Toss. England players like Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler miss the cold of a May day in the County Championship to earn Indian rupees at night. Counties are forced to rely on contingency plans at short notice when a franchise decides they want the services of a Liam Plunkett or a David Willey. While it is on, the whole world is told:
This is cricket. This is the cricket.
What I’m about to write, therefore, may surprise some readers, although the recent antics of the England and Wales Cricket Board must have stretched your capacity for surprise.
I actually think the IPL is the key to improving the County Championship’s relevance. Let me explain.
Before it began, the County Championship had a more coherent structure, but too many competitors and too many types of competitors. A Test here, an ODI there, and often more than one of each. It took a long time, but there is now a window for the IPL.
Only Ireland’s inaugural Test is set to break it, and their opposition, Pakistan, have had its players blackballed from the IPL for nearly a decade now. No other male international cricket will be played during the time of the IPL.
As for other male domestic competitions, there have been one-day tournaments in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but these pale in comparison with the County Championship’s status as the oldest multi-day domestic competition in cricket, and do not attract overseas players like the championship does.
This is one of the reasons why, in my opinion, the County Championship should be designed to be the IPL’s No. 2. There is a degree of burnout with an IPL season, and the County Championship has its degree of stories with which to fall in love.
For example, when Jake Ball was bowling to Chesteshwar Pujara the other day, he was bowling to win for Nottinghamshire, and he was bowling to have the chance to win for England again. Pujara was not just resisting for Yorkshire’s sake, he was learning how to resist for the days he will need to resist when India try to win in England. This was just one of the subplots that the championship regularly presents.
If you’re not fussed with nation vs nation cricket, and just want to follow a good quality competition involving some of the world’s best known players – Morne Morkel and Shivnarine Chanderpaul spring to mind – then the championship holds plenty of interest if your eyes are tiring of the IPL’s barrage of boundaries.
What’s more, there are usually plenty of players from different countries taking part. Just from my home country, Australia, there are several. For example Peter Siddle might have worn a beanie, but he’s also taking wickets that could mean the difference between being in England next summer and being in Victoria. Joe Mennie is fighting for the chance to prove he was better than what his one Test appearance showed. Shaun Marsh is in England. So is Matt Renshaw. And Mark Cosgrove, who does not currently play for any professional team in Australia, is still going strong. Apologies to those I left out.
As an overseas cricket fan looking at the championship from the outside, there’s no doubt that the IPL and the County Championship are destined to compete. But they can also compliment each other – so long as the administrators, fans and players want it to.