The project to have a competition of city-based T20 sides playing in a month’s window backed by SKY is of great concern to those like Ivan that follow the county game. It worries me as it is another example of cricket aping the worst of football. We have already seen a cricketing media like football – happier to report incident than analyse. Now with this scheme those with test grounds who already have a significant revenue advantage will emulate the financial muscle of the big boys of the Premier by having the 20/20 metropolitan franchise as well.
We already have the Birmingham Bears (not Warwickshire) and the six regular Test grounds (Lords, the Oval, Edgbaston, Headingley, Old Trafford, Trent Bridge) plus two of the Swalec, Agius, Durham will host eight T20 City sides to generate even more revenue. SKY are said to be ready to invest £40m and no doubt we will hear of the benefits to grassroots cricket and handout to the counties but we will end up with 8 powerful counties and then the also-rans.
The fixtures in county cricket will be reduced to 12 so Sussex will no longer go to Horsham and quite possibly Arundel. The scheme is based on the Australian Big Bash but there is one huge difference, the weather. Virtually every Friday T20 game and Sunday Royal London Cup was called off last week because of the weather so who is to say that such a window enjoys rain-free cricket?
Besides what is wrong with the the present format of Thursday/Friday night based T20 cricket which draws big crowds and much revenue to the bars. At Surrey and Middlesex they take a huge amount at the bars on such nights at the Kia Oval and Lords. The southern section went to the wire and would have resulted in a exciting finale on the last round of fixtures. I do hope the ECB sees sense but money does not talk – it swears – and people have always liked bad language.