Friday, 20 April 2018

T16.4 Oh its gone mad, but are the ECB not as daft as they sound?

As if Cricket fans needed anymore bad news this week, after the shock that BBC Test Match Special would not be broadcasting to us live this winter. The ECB now announce that the unpopular "New T20 Competition" won't be T20 it will be T16.4, which works out to 100 balls.

This idea will include a 100 to zero countdown and will consist of (wait for it) 15 overs of 6 balls. Then the final over will be the most ridiculous 10 balls.  This of course throws Duckworth Lewis method straight into File 13 (The bin) and it also throws all the wonderful stats that have accumulated over the years into complete disarray,

However it worse than that isn't it? a lot worse. While some cricket fans love T20 a lot of people simple hate it, can't abide it, will never watch it. 

On top of that a lot of fans are against this new competition anyway. They think three competitions is enough So those people are hardly likely to jump back on board ship are they? No they are on their Happy Island and are staying put. Some might say these people on the Happy Island think money grows on the coconut trees. But they are happy, so no problem. 

This will be a complete and utter slog fest, it won't be Cricket. just an hour of whacking it as far as you can. Some say T20 is already that, they are probably correct. But it also can be very exciting.....

So to the "But's" and I have a few "But's" and my view as to the angle that the ECB are coming from that perhaps many have missed or have not thought about. 

The biggest bug bear and loss of potential revenue to the ECB is not having a world wide competition (such as the IPL and Big Bash) That I can say is a fact, and if a competition could be run and it did sell overseas then that problem is addressed and a lot of money can be made. That really sums up why we are here and talking about this. ECB want a worldwide competition on TV. Simple so far. 

But how do you do this? You need to come up with something a little different, you need money to back it, and you need to be able to attract ALL the top players. They have the money to give it go, they are coming up with ideas to make it different. 

Another way of doing this is to keep your EIGHT chosen grounds sweet. Let them do the marketing and selling of tickets, you have eight different ways of doing this, and the best ideas can be shared around. Eight brains are better than one. Give them a pot of money to achieve this. A loss is already in the budget, that money will be allocated to the eight stadiums. They will be instructed to get on with selling tickets, you can't lose. Sell tickets! Its in the stadium's interest anyway of course. They have the best players in the world coming surely they can sell a few? I don't think they can, I know they can. Can they sell a T20 Blast ticket and sell a T16.4 ticket at half price? Or even better free? Now if you get a good enough incentive and they will sell. If you are being propped up, you can't lose, so your incentives can be very good. And they are going to be propped up. The nominated 8 will get more than 1.3 million all the counties will get. The Cricket grounds will be paid to hold a Cricket Match, will that's easy then isn't it? Surely. Don't think because 100 people that you follow on Twitter hate it that tickets won't sell. They will sell given this freedom. Ok they might give away the tickets, whats the point in that? The TV audience is the point of that. That generates the real money.

So to the TV Audience, well I have heard that perhaps the terrestrial TV companies don't want a extended and long 4 hour show. They want cut it down as much as they can. 3.5 hours would be much better for them. So hence the 100 ball idea, it fits  better with terrestrial TV. Perhaps they will put in time constraints to ensure it doesn't run over time? Now the plan is that a "new audience" will sit down and watch the whole thing, so it can't be too long. A lot of Cricket fans will watch because it's free. But also remember the Winter Olympics effect? You start watching sports you have never watched before. We watched the curling (that is pretty long) we haven't watched it for 4 years. All sorts of people watched the Curling the Freestyle Skiing and those completely mad ones on the metal trays.

The women's game is really thriving now and so the audience is different from years gone by, it will be far more mixed than it was 40 years ago. When it was on TV on a Sunday afternoon 40 overs, your mum didn't watch then, no chance. She would probably be in the kitchen or fast asleep while Dad watched it. A lot more women really enjoy Cricket now, but don't always get the time to watch it. They wouldn't purchase a satellite package for it. So the time is right, get it back on TV. But you do have to compromise. This new audience are not going to watch test matches, they haven't got time. But they might eventually, once the little blue touch paper is lit. It takes time, but they will get new viewers.  

All these ideas and questions does not mean the big picture will change overnight, but it is hoped it might in time. The ECB think that this is answer, it generates money from TV, and it just might get a new audience. Both are possible I think. But by heck its going to be a rough ride with those opposed to it. And they have a point, of course they have. Thrashing the ball about for an hour is not Cricket. The 18 county system has been in place for as long as we can all remember (in slightly different formats but you know what I mean) and we don't really want to change it. But 1.3 million is the carrot, and I can't see anyone opposed to it, that can come up with a way of generating 1.3 million for Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northants and the likes. 

Somehow those for and against have to learn to live and work together for the end benefit of Cricket. There is plan behind it all. Yes it is kind of daft, but it ain't that daft. Of course one of the things that is always going to be a problem is the weather, and this single problem could be the biggest of the lot. Watching Cricket at 9pm is not my idea of fun in England. India yes great, England sorry not for me. Hope you find parts of this thoughtful. I don't like it but I also can't think of another way of giving 1.3 million to all the counties, I just can't. 

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