Thursday 19 May 2011

One-day fillip for Kent, TV could help Championship

Kent's win against Yorkshire in the CB40 was just the boost needed at the weekend. After another disastrous performance against Glamorgan last week I can only imagine how low the players morale had sunk, so a shock win was very much what the doctor ordered.
There was yet another unacceptable performance down at Glamorgan in the Championship. An innings defeat, with the batting undone in the course of an afternoon is providing yet more questions than answers. I can't agree with Paul Farbrace when he blames the bowlers for allowing Glamorgan to score too freely. I don't doubt that the bowling was not really of the required standard, but when you're giving the new ball to a military-medium pacer like Darren Stevens then you're going to have problems - especially on good, hard pitches like the ones we have at the moment. However average the bowlers may have been (and they were an exceptionally inexperienced attack) I would have thought it would be more salient to criticise the experienced batting line-up and their failure to put a total on the board. Twice.
The more encouraging effort at Yorkshire surely proves that most of the cheer Kent fans will get this year will come from the limited overs game. Most noticeable for me was that Geraint Jones dropped down the order and made crucial runs to win the game (Van Jaarsveld once again was the catalyst in the Kent innings). I was disappointed, but not surprised, to see Jones asked to bat at 3 in the second-innings at Glamorgan, despite having kept wicket to an opposition total of over 400 in the previous two days in the field. A position further down will suit both Jones and Kent - late order runs could be crucial in all forms. Roll on the rest of the CB40 and Twenty20 - we might get some good results.

I watched a lot of the Championship match between Sussex and Notts on Sky last week. As part of their various agreements with the ECB Sky have to show two Championship games per season, one of which is usually in the last round of matches in September. Both sides were able to include their Test players which was a rare treat for spectators. The quality of the cricket was superb, and the excitement generated was also excellent. While watching it dawned on me that the future of the County Championship could be so much more promising if the ECB made it part of the TV contract for the whole season. What I would like to see is, in any week where a Test Match is not being played, Sky having to show first-class cricket from either division. Given that Sky's daytime schedules (on their four sports channels) largely consist of repeats and highlights, there is plenty of room for live daytime cricket. What a way it would be to promote the County game, and if people were able to see how good the standard is on telly, then they might just go along and watch their own County and boost the coffers throughout the game. Alternatively, youngsters might think about playing the game and go along to one of the their local club sides.
Ultimately the ECB is there to grow the game. If they insist on taking Sky's money and hiding the Test Match on pay TV then at least make Sky show a commitment to the whole game - give us more Championship cricket on telly.

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