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.
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.
Embed from Getty Images
1 October 2017
16 October 2017
Sunday 29th September is the day to celebrate everything we love about the beautiful historic county of Westmorland. From Kirkby Lonsdale to Newbiggin, from Ambleside to Kirkby Stephen, from the top of Helvellyn to the waters of Windermere, it is a day to celebrate the … Continue reading
28 September 2019
Tuesday 24th September is the day to celebrate everything we love about the magnificent historic county of Cumberland. From Millom to Longtown, from Whitehaven to Penrith, from the top of Scafell Pike to the shores of Derwentwater, it is a day to celebrate the extraordinary … Continue reading
18 September 2019
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
19 July 2019
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
7 July 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
21 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
13 June 2019
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
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
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
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
14 March 2019