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since 1997 Feb 16

2018 Diary

A Ramble on Women's Cricket
 - with diversions -

This diary will be updated erratically throughout the year.

Previous Page : England Start Against South Africa

 

It's Simple Really

According to Cricket Australia’s Executive General Manager Events and Competitions, Anthony Everard
“In both of those cases, we found that when women’s cricket is given the appropriate marketing and promotional support, and scheduled in clean air, it performs really, really well from an attendance and a viewership perspective.
“When there’s cross-over between men’s and women’s cricket, life gets a bit harder in terms of the choices that we demand of our fans.

16 Over + 4 balls Cricket

Well everyone else seems to have had their say about the new proposed league due to start in 2020, so I guess I might as well.
Let's kick off (sorry) with the statement that we have three brands of cricket that are played internationally, although the ICC, in the case of the women's game, have essentially buried one of them. Only England and Australia will play Tests and only, it follows logically, against each other as part of the Ashes. This in itself is hugely disappointing for the fans and especially for the players. One of the reasons given has been crowded schedules, although cost is also often mentioned. So, forgetting the anomaly, you might be left thinking there's no space for something new. However, it doesn't make sense though, does it, as schedules are 'too crowded' as we all recall,  even when Tests have (almost) disappeared, to try to introduce another format?
The case of finding another style of format in the men's game (hereafter known as 'TOG' - an abbreviation for 'The other game')  is even weaker as Tests will continue and the schedule is far more crowded than the women's.
But, staying with the women's sport, let's look at it from another angle. What's broken that needs fixing? We've all been told, by the very people wishing to introduce this new format to replace the KSL, how successful the previous couple of seasons have been. Great! So let's keep doing what obviously works... Seems not. Let's shake it all up, and try and fix what isn't broken.
How about a bullet-point list so beloved of those in smart suits to check out some of the issues. As one comedian used to say about his jokes... 'in no particular order...'
  • The plan is to integrate with the men. Well the men don't currently play 16 overs plus 4 balls cricket so both men and women must change. It's not, in other words, an integration at all. We have that already in the T20 in the sense of format, if not of teams. One reason not to 'integrate' (and we'll find others later) is that experience with the KSL has shown that for stand-alone T20 matches it has been more successful in terms of  'bums on seats' than the double headers and this new scheme looks like heading for more of those. {If you want any idea of the crowds at KSL count them just before the innings break - not at the end of the game where many of the croud have turned up for TOG - and do count them so you can ignore those who have arrived just for the bar. The 'entrance numbers' can be hugely misleading.}

  • The next reason (following on from above) is that the KSL made only a half-hearted attempt to align itself with the counties, although some counties did pick up some of the heavy lifting, For instance Somerset with Western Storm. Loughborough remained in the cold. An attempt seems to have been made to show that it wasn't county based but a 'franchise'. However in every case bar one it essentially was. That worked we were told, and in deed it appeared to. The dropping of the 50-over format did mean, however, that its stated purpose of 'developing players' had lost most of its meaning.

  • The new tournament is supposed to be 'city based'. Well we know that Warwickshire TOGs have decided to abandoned most of their area and become Birmingham in some formats of the game but to ignore your many followers who don't live in just one city seems very short sighted to me.

  • 'City based' also rings bells with, now who could it be...? I know, the IPL. So will billionaires be bidding for top players from 'TOG' or better still among the women? Oh, I do hope so! The women players deserve some cash in their pockets that provides more than a token existence. Can you see that happening?

  • Of course we could compare it to the WBBL. This seems to have been a TV hit although we don't, once again, have accurate crowd stats. But hang on... that's T20 cricket not 16 overs and 4 balls. Crowds, the media, and just about everyone has been happy with that. Rumours abound as I type that 'double headers will be abandoned and the WBBL is to be 'stand alone' (see my point above).

  • Yes, the media! One reason for this change is said to be FTA (or free to air) TV. The game must occupy 2 1/2 hours or less to interest them apparently. That's as long as their attention span. Now I cut my teeth not just on the cricket field but on FTA TV cricket. I watched it for years. There was plenty of room for it then, but we didn't, of course, have to fit in so many 'repeats' as seems vital on TV these days. There were of course so many more channels then - oh, no - sorry - I've got that... - well let's be polite and say 'wrong way round'. When I started watching Aunty Beeb had only one channel - now she has 4 and streaming and iplayer and... well... I am pretty sure I will have missed some. So of course you can't fit a 3 hour game in anywhere! What was I thinking. There simply isn't room. Not in one of the billion channels that seem to be out there. Sky has now taken up women's cricket quite well and I think gives as much coverage as the sport needs. If it doesn't benefit from this then it won't from more even if FTA (free-to-air). There's an argument to be made about FTA but I'd be doubtful Sky would readily give up some of their rights - they are a commercial organisation - why should they? They might drop their future offers for broadcasting rights to the ECB on the basis they are losing part of their monopoly i.e. it will cost ECB money. Now the ECB have gone down this route of no FTA they'll have to live with it unless BBC is interested in women's county or club which is just not going to happen.

  • When T20 started it was supposed to be 3 hours long. For an evening match that's start at 18:30 and end at 21:30. It doesn't now and needs severely taking in hand. If you want to make things easier for the broadcasters tackle this problem and maybe you can forget the gimmicks. With the women's game that won't be a problem but in TOG...

  • There's also the nightmare of how you work out the stats with one long over being bowled by as many bowlers as you chose to use - all 10 might be interesting - surely someone will think of that!

  • If you're female and reading this then I do hope you can count to 100. I know from what's been said in launching this idea, that counting to 120 is just a bit too difficult for you. In view of that I am also not sure how you'll get on when the first ball ever bowled in this 16 overs+4 balls turns out to be a wide. We've got 101 balls and likely to get a few more on the way. I hope you're keeping up...

  • And I've left what many might consider the most important point to the last. No one - yup - no one around the world plays this format or has shown any indication they are even thinking about it. You are thus training players to play in a format that is useless to them unless a T20 match gets shortened by rain to 16 overs and 4 balls - except you can't have bits of an over in a T20 second innings - at least I don't think so.

The whole idea seems to be just plain daft. I would type another bulleted list of items in favour of this idea but I can't think even of one to kick off with.
The whole idea has been greeted by the pundits, journalists, bloggers etc with totally unanimously negative comments, ranging from derision to apoplexy. I can understand why.
I can understand why the powers that be put their minds to how they can improve the game. The MCC changes the Laws of the game as new ideas and experience guides them. The ECB, the governing body of the sport in the UK has worked wonders with the women's game at the top. The base of the pyramid is very rocky, but more of that anon. But, to repeat myself, why would you take something that you've proclaimed a great success and risk changing it. In business this would be considered a very doubtful, if not poor strategy. If something not working, that's one thing, but if it is...
From a personal point of view how far will I travel to a game? If it's 50-over it's much further than a T20. I get a day's cricket for the expense of all that petrol.  When asked about who I would support in the Kia Super League I replied 'whoever is playing nearest'. Why? Well there's the petrol argument and also the fact 'my county' doesn't have a team. Their players are scattered to the four winds. I have no natural affiliation. Would it make a difference if it were city based? Well I live close to the largest conurbation in the south of England and they don't have a team either. Fortunately I just love cricket so I'll be watching somewhere but how many are there like me? With a county team you have a relatively large area in which people can feel involved. That should have been the way to go with the KSL, of course.
It seems to me this suggested format is different enough from T20 to make the players' lives difficult but not different enough to be considered innovative. That kind of planning... well...

A Priceless Answer

If sledged can you think of a quick retort? In a recent interview Hayley Matthews' brother showed he had some imagination...
When teased with "you're not as good a cricketer as your sister!" His reply was "No, and neither are you!"
Probably also an accurate assessment.