The Wednesday Watermelon

I thought today was going to be a quiet one. The first test preview was in the books so I was looking forward to a little down time. Fat chance. Instead there’s plenty of domestic news to talk about.

Firstly, the ECB has postponed the launch of its new franchise based T20 city whatsit until 2020 when Sky’s current TV deal expires. Call me daft but I thought a 2020 start was going to be the plan all along. Now we hear that it was actually going to start (or possibly start) in 2018, with Sky showing all the matches for the first two years.

Call me an old cynic but I thought one of the reasons the ECB wanted this shiny new city thingy was to grow the game by showing at least some matches on terrestrial television. The news they were even considering launching the new competition on Sky therefore leaves me rather perplexed.

Although Sky have a monopoly over live domestic cricket until 2020, it had been reported that any new T20 competition would fall outside this arrangement. Maybe Sky called the lawyers in and the position wasn’t so clear after all?

Anyway, the upshot is that the London Long-In-The-Tooths and the Nottingham Not-Him-Agains will now be making their first appearance in a few years’ time. This will hopefully give terrestrial broadcasters time to put forward an attractive bid. I hate to think what will happen to English cricket if they don’t.

In other news – and I was tempted to call this section The Lights Are On But Will Anyone Be Home? – the ECB has announced that a round of championship matches will take place under floodlights next summer. It’s all part of the plan to see whether day-night test cricket is possible in this country. A question I suspect many of us know the answer to already.

Weirdly enough, these games will take place in June, when it doesn’t actually get dark until 10pm. I guess this is because the ECB think the weather will be decent (yeah, good luck with that) and the lights won’t actually come into affect until late in the day’s play.

This all seems quite amusing to me. The ECB are basically trying to promote night-time cricket in a way that minimises any cricket actually being played at night. A foreign visitor might wonder what the bloody point is.

Finally, and I can’t believe this has escaped me thus far, Alastair Cook will become England’s most capped played when the first test starts later this week. It’s a rather fine achievement.

Yes there have been times when other players would’ve been dropped, and Cook hasn’t always been everyone’s cup of tea (at least not in the blogging community), but you can’t argue with his fitness record, longevity and the runs he’s scored – particularly in Asia. The bottom line is that England will probably get annihilated in India if Cook has a poor tour. We rely on him that much.

The statistic that intrigues me most is that Cook isn’t yet 32 years old; therefore it’s quite possible that Alastair will reach 200 test caps one day. Alec Stewart was forty odd he played his 133rd test.

On the one hand I can see Chef playing forever – stubbornly hanging on when he’s past his best – but on the other I can see him unexpectedly walking away prematurely. After all, he has a young family to think about now.

I also wonder what will keep Cook motivated? He might want to improve his modest Ashes batting record, and avenge that 0-5 drubbing as captain, but other than that what has he got left to achieve?

Sometimes I wonder how much we actually know about Alastair Cook. We all make assumptions about him, and think we know him, but he’s quite a private individual who generally eschews the limelight. He certainly doesn’t appear much on chat shows, and he usually has his guard up when talking to the media, so perhaps we’ve got him all wrong?

When Alan Shearer (the footballer) was England captain, everyone used to think he was dour and humourless. Yet privately his teammates knew he was quite mischievous and had a wicked sense of humour. I wonder if Cook has been deliberately misleading the media all the years too? I guess it’s an amusing thought.

James Morgan


  • “This will hopefully give terrestrial broadcasters time to put forward an attractive bid”

    Why would they bid anything on a pointless tournament featuring made-up teams that no-one is going to care about?

    How much do they bid for similar competitions, like football testimonial matches and barbarian games? Not much. So where is the precedent?

    Whoever told the ECB that this idiotic tournament would pull in the big bucks was winding them up.

  • I’ve met Alastair a couple of times and found him down to earth, approachable and amusing. Before he became Test captain, he used to wander in to our local Tesco’s to buy his dinner, on his own, no airs and graces. I met KP once (not in Tesco) and definitely could not say the same thing about him!

    • An England captain who can be located – what next? Years ago I was marketing manager of the test sponsor and the deal included appearances by test players. The friendliest was Botham; the only problem was that whenever we phoned his wife to contact him the answer was that she had no idea where he was. The most difficult was Edmonds. I once spent an entire company dinner where he was guest worrying that he would deck our chairman (who was a bit gaga) who called him Graham Gooch in his introduction.

  • Your article made me consider Cook the batsman rather than the individual.

    I wondered in a whimsical moment why so many great or good left handed openers are at best workmanlike (Cook, Edrich, Hayden, Langer – Strauss if you like) and often outright ugly (Smith, Kirsten, Lawry) in style whilst their middle order colleagues are often elegant and a pleasure to the eye (Lara, Gower, Sobers, Sanga)?

    Is it the nature of the roles and that the same applies to right handers or is it something more sinister?

    • Hi Mark. It’s an interesting point but I think there have been quite a few elegant (or at least good to watch) left handed openers. Do you remember Saeed Anwar? Trescothick was also quite entertaining. Tamin Iqbal is attacking too. Hayden also had a good strike rate.

  • “In other news – and I was tempted to call this section The Lights Are On But Will Anyone Be Home? – the ECB has announced that a round of championship matches will take place under floodlights next summer. It’s all part of the plan to see whether day-night test cricket is possible in this country. A question I suspect many of us know the answer to already”

    This news has passed me by. I’m all for it personally. We have a test match in August whether we like that or not. Need as much practice as possible

    • This assumes that most/all of the England players will actually be available to play in these ‘day/night’ games, of course. As all weren’t playing in the last, decisive matches of the 2016 season, I rather doubt they will be.

      • Hopefully a lot will be available. June is the Champions trophy, so a lot of test players won’t be needed.

        • The Champions Trophy is only the first half of June so I guess it depends when they play these floodlit championship games. My understanding is that the day-night test at Edgbaston next year is off, so I think these county matches are more about establishing whether day-night tests with a pink ball are viable rather than giving the England players practice. I could be wrong though.

          • The day/night test was confirmed last week James.

            A 3 match T20 series is in the last week of June so the test only players will be available. (1st test v SA beings 6 July)

            • Yes I realised this yesterday afternoon. I find it utterly bizarre that the game is going ahead. They were supposed to trial the lights / pink ball at Edgbaston in a championship game against Lancs in September but both teams called it off as they were in danger of relegation and in no mood to experiment. It was reported at the time that this would be the end of the Eng v WI day-night test because there’s no way of telling how the ball will behave etc.

              There has only been one previous day-night game at Edgbaston – a second XI fixture last summer. There were really mixed reports about how the conditions and the ball played, so I really don’t see how the ECB can justify going ahead. It seems like complete madness to me.

  • “the London Long-In-The-Tooths and the Nottingham Not-Him-Agains”.

    The new competition is going to be regional rather than city-based apparently. They’ve also thumbed their thesaurus for synonyms for ‘big’ and ‘bash’ and it’s going to be called Supercharge.

    “whether day-night test cricket is possible in this country”.

    The second D/N Test in Dubai has just finished. It was a fairly typical Dubai Test unlike the match in Adelaide which suggests they’ve made some progress with the ball. It was heartening to see WI put up their best performance for some time in an away Test .
    “I thought today was going to be a quiet one.”

    Biggest news story of day, if it’s true:

    • “Supercharge, London Long-in-the-Tooths and Notts Not-him-agains”! You have both made me laugh out loud. Praise be to the two of you. ?

  • Good stuff as usual. Not convinced at all about the ECB leadership over this new T20 competition, but if Sky have forced their hand and it means that there is a clean break in 2020, and (God forbid) cricket on terrestrial prime time television then that can only be a good thing.

    Thing is, it won’t happen. Why not? Because Sky will simply offer £X Million more than the terrestrial TV companies, and in all likelyhood that will be used to fund the ECB board member bonuses that are coincidentally triggered by the extra £X Million revenue they have attracted…


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