A few years back when the new T20 began to flourish in terms of spectator appeal it was thought the one day game would be the sufferer. Now the red ball in all its forms looks more at risk. Sussex were the pioneers of the old Gillette Cup – winning the first two in 1963 and 1964 under the adventurous captaincy of Ted Dexter. It had the appeal of guaranteeing a result which county and Test cricket could not. Along came the John Player League, played on a Sunday with 40 overs each, which encouraged more buccaneer cricket. The One Day Cup had various sponsors and the latest is Royal London. It’s a regionalised competition like the T20 to minimise the physical drain of travel, but still an intense schedule – Sussex, who call themselves the Sharks, opponents Essex Eagles played over the weekend.
Once again Essex proved our nemesis. We posted a defensible score of 275. Once again Nash enjoying an Indian summer was among the runs as was Luke Wright and Ross Taylor. However Kiwi Jesse Ryder scored a century for the Essex Eagles, their Durch captain van Doeschate 49, and they scampered home with an over to spare. Cricket is such a social game and a good friend of mine brought into the players club a gentleman who turned out to be a Judge in the Cayman Islands. This led to an interesting chat on tax havens. He told me that in the Cayman Islands you can serve an inter-pleader requiring disclosure of financial identity within 7 days, something which does not exist in our jurisdiction. I never feel it is fair to talk to much about a person’s profession when he is on holiday and conversation soon returned to matters sporting. The judge’s son works in the cricketing agency field and could give no reassurances as to the future of Test cricket. Why should Chris Gayle, reputedly on £ 30,000 a match for Somerset and with career earnings of £15m, bother with West Indian Test cricket? Even our Luke Wright, one of the pleasantest guys you could meet who certainly takes his captaincy of Sussex seriously has filled his boots in the BIG BASH whilst Chris Jordan is just back from the IPL final.
The next step may well be city T20 franchises. Warwickshire are called already Birmingham. I can foresee Hampshire, Kent and Sussex playing under one city banner. All the major cities will each have a team and the East Midlands, West Country each one franchise. The traditionalists won’t like it but SKY will and so will the franchise holders. This could lead to the total erosion of the red ball game. A sad thought for those of us who enjoys a pint of Harvey’s in the sun by the sea but then again Sussex CCC was the first to embrace change.