Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Certain Counties unhappy with new format

I've just read the reaction from Kent's powers that be with regards to the new 20/20 structure from next year. For me there is a welcome reduction in the group matches from 16 to 10 per side. The players seem to prefer this, and I'm sure the attendances will reflect a positive reaction from the paying public in 2012 (weather and Olympic fever permitting). Kent, meanwhile, are concerned about their money troubles and feel, quite clearly, that a reduction in games means a reduction (overall) in gate receipts (and also there are 6 less games that could be among those televised).
For me this is the best thing to happen in County Cricket since the initial shot-in-the-arm that was provided with the introduction of 20/20. I am not a fan of the format - a 20 over thrash does nothing to develop young bowlers while the nuances of the game are all but eliminated. However, you would have to be blind to ignore the fact that much money is generated by it, largely due to its brevity and the perceived excitement of a batsmen hammering the ball to all parts, thus bringing people through the gate. Up until now the 20/20 Cup had been expanded every season since it began. The past couple of years have seen attendances start to fall - there is no longer a novelty value, and the packed fixture schedule has seen people become more choosy about what they pay to see (that's if they can follow the fixture list in the first place).
The feelings of Kent County Cricket Club are entirely selfish (of course they are, this is professional sport and reasonably big business). Kent have still pulled the punters through the turnstiles for 20/20 - after all, they've been pretty damn good at it in their time. However, the golden goose was, for me, being slowly strangled and it was only a matter of time before people stopped going to Canterbury/Beckenham too (don't get me started on playing a "home" game at The Oval - a complete betrayal of the majority of people who follow Kent, especially members). With the floodlights installed at Canterbury there is a necessity for plenty of evening cricket to get full use of them - they must pay for themselves or they become an expensive white elephant. Kent obviously saw 20/20 as a huge part of this, but the bigger picture must be seen. There is an old showbiz adage - "always leave them wanting more" - 20/20 is cricket showbiz, so leave the punters to want more, and you might just find them turning up for CB40 or Championship matches as well.

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