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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 2 responses

New Government Guidance on Celebrating the Counties

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has issued guidance for councils on Celebrating the Historic Counties of England . This guidance sets out the rationale for the promotion of the historic counties and what local authorities can currently do in relation to placing boundary road … Continue reading

Hampshire Day – 15th July

15th July 2019 will see the first celebration of Hampshire Day.  The day will provide an annual opportunity for people across the county to share in celebrating Hampshire’s rich history, traditions, and culture. The date has been chosen since it is the feast day of St Swithun – … Continue reading

Suffolk Day – June 21st 2019

Suffolk Day is the annual celebration of all things Suffolk, with a variety of events being held across the county to show off everything Suffolk has to offer! Full details of events can be found at Suffolk Day Big Weekender . According to the Suffolk Day Proclamation … Continue reading

Sussex Day – Sunday 16th June 2019

This Sunday is Sussex Day, a day to celebrate everything we love about Sussex. Details of the many events taking place across the county, both on Saturday 15th and on Sunday 16th, can be found on the wonderful  Sussex Flag  Facebook page.   The event takes place … Continue reading

Middlesex Heritage

Our Middlesaxon brigade, led as ever by the indomitable Russell Grant, has been very active lately. They have launched a new Facebook group Middlesex Heritage   as a meeting place for all those involved in the many social, cultural and sporting organisations of the county and for … Continue reading

11 June 2019 2 responses

The Battle for County Cricket is On

As the 2019 cricket season begins, ABC Chairman Peter Boyce reflects on the challenges – and the opportunities – for county cricket.   Cricket is the only mass spectator sport which is based upon our historic counties. Total attendance figures for county cricket in 2018 were … Continue reading

23 April 2019 4 responses

Clearing the confusion between the counties and local government

ABC Chairman Peter Boyce argues that upcoming changes to local government in England continue the trend which will eventually clear-up the confusion in the public mind between local government and the historic counties – to the huge benefit of both. The purpose of ABC is … Continue reading

23 March 2019 10 responses

Hampshire Flag Registered

The Flag Institute has registered a county flag for Hampshire. The flag design is based on the banner of arms granted to Hampshire County Council in 1992. It is comprised of a bi-colour of yellow and red with a rose and crown – colours and … Continue reading

New Flags for Sutherland and East Lothian

Sutherland and East Lothian have become the latest counties in Scotland to have flags registered by the Flag Institute. Both flags were adopted following a public vote. The Sutherland flag was unveiled at a ceremony hosted by the Lord Lieutenant of Sutherland at Highland Council’s offices in … Continue reading

Herefordshire Flag Competition launched

The Herefordshire Cultural Partnership has launched a competition to design a flag for the county.  Even five-year-olds will get the vote when Herefordians are given the chance to pick the winner of the competition this summer. “Children are the future of Herefordshire and it’s going to be … Continue reading

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