Too much T20 cricket will ruin the county season

Alexei Kervezee Worcestershire fielder Alexei Kervezee wearing the 'Help for Heroes' kit, sets off in pursuit of the ball during the Friends Provident T20 match between Worcestershire Royals and Nottinghamshire Outlaws at New Road on June 10, 2010 in Worcester, England.

Now before you start calling us old misty eyed slipper wearing fuddy duddies, who pine for a return to the good old days when first class cricket was king (you’d only be half right), let’s get one thing straight. We like T20 cricket. It’s exciting, it generates much needed revenue, and it broadens the appeal of the sport. What we don’t like, however, is too much T20 cricket. That’s why we think that this year’s Friends Provident Trophy, which starts today and goes on until the end of August (it might as well be December), will ruin the domestic season.

Take a glance at your favourite county’s fixture list. You’ll see that there are a minimum of sixteen T20 matches during June, July and August, with only two or three championship matches sandwiched in between. It’s beyond belief. The height of the English summer has become infested by the annual slog fest – and there’s little room for cricket of any other sort.

England might say they want to become the best test team in the world, but judging by the domestic fixture list, the ECB only care about defending our world T20 title.

June and July are the peak months of the English summer. The pitches tend to get flat – an ideal breeding ground for test players – and the weather is at its best. How come, therefore, my team Worcestershire are only set to play three county championship matches between now and August 9th? It’s ridiculous.

If the Royals are going to wear their brave but rather garish camouflage outfits again, like they did in last year’s T20 competition (to help promote the Help For Heroes Campaign), Solanki and Co will feel more qualified to join the Territorial Army than the England Test Squad by the end of the summer.

Equally baffling is the fact that Worcestershire won’t play a single forty over match during the next ten weeks. Although staging a Pro-40 event makes about as much sense as Giles Clarke after ten gin and tonics (as obviously there’s no forty over international tournament), it’s still the nearest thing we’ve got to the fifty over ODI format.

Sometimes I wonder whether we actually want to do well at a World Cup. The ECB’s attitude seems to be ‘let’s reserve the best weather for T20 cricket, and play the most important forms of the game when the pitches are green and Darren Stevens is the most effective bowler on the county circuit’.

Plans are in place to reduce the group stage of the Friends Provident Trophy to ten matches next year, which is more like it, but you wonder how we got ourselves into the current predicament in the first place? Those who don’t like T20 will have no county cricket to watch for two and a half months.

We understand the financial arguments in favour of T20 cricket, but having sixteen Friends Provident matches in seven weeks is absurd – and then there’s the knockout stage in August. There is a real risk that the authorities are going to milk the cash cow dry. If there’s one thing that’s bound to kill off interest it’s over familiarity. Just ask Jedward. Let’s hope the schedulers don’t ruin the brand before next year’s more sensible format kicks in.

When T20 first arrived on the scene it was a refreshing and lucrative distraction during the domestic summer – and it lasted no more than a handful of weeks. The format was perfect. Matches had a festival atmosphere, and the players seemed to enjoy the format as much as David Lloyd enjoyed interviewing the bronzed girls in bikinis that wallowed in Jacuzzis on the boundary edge. These days there are so many matches that the players look desperate to join them – they’d do anything for a breather and a rub down with an oily rag.

So will we bother watching the Friends Provident Trophy ourselves? We probably will. After all, it’s unavoidable if you’ve got Sky Sports. However, the chances of us keeping up with the competition’s progress are slimmer than Bruce Reid.

We’ll probably just tune in, keep an eye on individual performances – I’m looking forward to seeing Durham’s Ben Stokes for the first time – and not really care who wins. After all, whoever loses today’s opener between Hampshire and Somerset will get another fifteen opportunities to put things right.

James Morgan


  • Monday to Thursday – county champ matches,
    Friday night T20,
    Sunday 50 over cricket.

    • One day off per week is a little harsh Dave (especially as that day is Saturday, one of the few days when the working public can get to county matches) but I totally agree with your point. Why not have a structure that everyone knows and understands? It may even encourage people to go down to their local county ground, as they’ll know when the matches are on. It could become part of their summer routine.

      If a championship match was every two weeks, which would effectively give the players a week off to recharge the batteries and practice / address technical issues with their coaches, then I think the structure you suggest would work well. It can’t be any worse than what we already have!!! The existing structure is totally nonsensical and unbalanced. We’ve effectively just had back-to-back championship matches, to be followed by two months of constant T20.

  • Unfortunately your wish to see Ben Stokes in action won’t come true for some time as today he dislocated his finger playing against Lancs in the Championship, and has been ruled out for 2 months. I too was looking forward to watching the young man.

    Nevertheless, I completely agree. Too much Twenty20 IS bad for the game. As if 50+ matches in the IPL wasn’t enough, we’ve now got to contend with 3 months of our own version. Whilst I’m a big fan of Kieron Pollard, Craig Kieswetter and Scott Styris smacking the ball out the park, I’m somewhat of a purist when it comes to cricket, and for me, the more Championship and Test cricket, the better.

    As you said, England want to become the best Test team in World cricket, and I assume that isn’t just for a couple of days. Andy Flower, Andrew Strauss, Hugh Morris etc. all have ambitions to take England to the top, and keep them there. If our youngsters are playing 20 T20 games a season, and only 2 or 3 in between, how are they going to develop into experienced 4 and 5-day players? You only have to look at the likes of James Taylor, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Sam Northeast to see that exposure to 4 day cricket can only be a good thing for our youngsters. They may well enjoy bashing the ball over the boundary and taking to the field to the tunes of Taio Cruz and Girls Aloud, but the bottom line is, Test cricket is the pinnacle of a cricketer’s career, and if we want to be the best, we have to produce the best by way of exposure to the longer form of the game.

    • Totally agree George. By the way, I heard that Stokes was injured about an hour after writing this article – and about a minute after bringing him into my fantasy league team! How typical.

  • That is very bad luck! Replace him with Benny Howell. Got big hopes for that lad. Made a great start to Championship season.


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