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.