At the end of last season, I blogged about the sad demise of English County Cricket – which is the closest format to playing Test cricket (they play 4-day games compared with 5-day Test matches). Agnew raised similar concerns in his report on the BBC website today: “Cricket's administrators are responsible for protecting the game and they seem keen to protect the 50 and 20 over formats - but the majority of people who love cricket want the same devotion to Test cricket. The administrators have to be extremely careful. If Test cricket gets squeezed, more and more the standard won't be what it should be”.
The number of Test matches played has remained roughly the same, but the huge difference is the number of One-Day International and Twenty20 games that now take place.I’ve been comparing the forthcoming season’s County Cricket fixtures with those of, say, the 2000 season. In 2000, teams played 16 games; now, in 2018, they play 14 games. Here’s the comparison of when those County matches take place (with the figures in brackets denoting the number of fixtures in the respective months for the 2000 season):
April: 2 (1)
May: 2 (3)
June: 3 (3)
July: 1 (4)
August: 2 (2)
September: 4 (3)
In other words, it seems that cricket is no longer a “summer game” – unless you regard the 50 and 20 over formats as “proper cricket” (which, old codger that I am, I don’t!). ONE championship game in the whole of July for goodness sake!!The County game is effectively the ‘nursery’ for young players and a stage for them to both ‘learn their trade’ and to attract the attention of the England team selectors.
The trouble is that cricket (or at least the County Championship element of it) has now been shunted towards the start and end of the season (the season now starts at least a week earlier and finishes a fortnight later than in 2000) in order to make ‘space’ in the fixture lists for the 50 and 20 over formats in the prime of the English summer – so that clubs can make some money from the dumbed down version of the game.
Not In My Name!