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Doom-mongers have been predicting the death of county cricket almost since it was first established. However, its willingness to re-invent itself every generation has kept it a key part of the English (and Welsh!) summer. After a period of declining crowds, the introduction of twenty-twenty cricket in 2003 re-established county cricket as a mass spectator sport. Fourteen years later it continues to thrive and grow. The T20 Blast competition recorded record attendances in 2017.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/20531121/blast-attendances-record-883000

Many commentators see the buzz around the 2017 county competition as a reaction by fans against plans by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to stage a new twenty-twenty competition from 2020, based around 8 regional teams. The ECB wants to fill the big grounds with a new audience for cricket. It hopes to emulate the mass popularity of such competitions in Indian and Australia. It’s a risky strategy. The whole culture of cricket support is totally different in those countries. Can you create an audience for contrived regional teams? How can you replace a sold-out Old Trafford for the roses clash? Will the crowd which fills Lords for Middlesex vs Surrey really show up for ‘North London’ vs ‘South London’?

The new competition will not replace the county-based T20 Blast though. Whilst the new competition will be played in August, the T20 Blast will be played first, from June to mid-July, a much better slot in terms of the weather and the lack of competition from football. Is there a sufficient audience for both? Which will fare better?

Given the record crowds in 2017, the ECB would be well advised to revisit its plans for a regional competition. A less risky approach would be to build on the success of the Blast. So much could be done. Learn the lessons from counties like Surrey, Middlesex, Somerset and Nottinghamshire who attract capacity, enthusiastic crowds. How do they market their games? Play no international cricket whilst the Blast is on. Allow the England players to play alongside the world’s best stars, especially the biggest stars from the sub-continent. Play some games on smaller grounds where locals rarely get the chance to see top quality cricket. Above all, get the game on terrestrial TV. The ECB’s decision to sell all rights to domestic and international cricket to satellite TV was short-sighted, robing it of a huge audience and its status as our national summer sport. Put the promotion and marketing into the Blast. It’s already a great competition. Some imagination, some proper planning and marketing could make it truly huge.

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Link 1 October 2017 16 October 2017 Featured, News start the discussion

Warwickshire Society launched

The Warwickshire Society is a new organisation which aims to promote pride in the great county of Warwickshire, celebrate its traditions and educate people about its history. Initially the Society will focus on promoting the Warwickshire flag which was registered on August 15th 2016. The flag … Continue reading

Oxfordshire flag registered.

The Flag Institute has added the Oxfordshire county flag to its registry. The body agreed to register Oxfordshire’s flag in May 2017 but only recently finalised a design which it deemed satisfactory. The original registration request was submitted in February 2017. The design of white … Continue reading

Suffolk flag registered.

The Flag Institute has today added the flag of Suffolk to its registry. A banner of the traditional arms of Saint Edmund, the county’s patron saint, the Flag Institute agreed to register the design in September 2017, following its display by Suffolk County Council on … Continue reading

Sutherland flag competition.

The county of Sutherland conducted its flag competition in September 2017. The county is now set to become the fifth of thirty-four Scottish counties to secure its own distinct flag and the third mainland county to do so, following its neighbour Caithness in January 2016 … Continue reading

Berkshire’s new flag unveiled at official ceremony.

The new county flag of Berkshire was revealed at a ceremony conducted at the Berkshire County Show, Newbury, held on September 17th 2017 and attended by the county’s Lord Lieutenant James Puxley, whose sanction had secured the flag’s registration and High Sheriff, Sarah Scrope. ABC … Continue reading

7 October 2017 9 October 2017 one response

Proposed Sutherland flag competition gains support

In April 2017, just over a year after its neighbour Caithness registered its own county flag, several interested parties met to initiate a county flag competition for Sutherland. The gathering, which took place at the former Sutherland District Council chamber, above the public library in Dornoch, … Continue reading

20 April 2017 21 April 2017 3 responses

Towns astride county borders

If ever one wanted an example of why the historic counties are not particularly suited to local government, this list of towns astride county boundaries is a case in point. From striking cases such as the Cambridgeshire/Suffolk border on Newmarket High Street, to more self-evident … Continue reading

5 February 2017 12 responses

Bridgend procession.

In 2013 ABC cooperated with the county history society to secure Glamorgan its county flag. This year we were contacted by the organisers of the 2017 Eisteddfod to be held in Bridgend in the county for help in supplying county flags for the event. We were … Continue reading

Warwickshire’s new flag

The recent registration of the new Warwickshire flag by the Flag Institute  leaves England with only five counties without a county flag. The design of the new flag features the fourteenth-century bear-and-ragged-staff emblem traditionally associated with the county. The emblem received a makeover to align … Continue reading

24 August 2016 one response


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