A lot has (and is) being said about the future of England Cricket, and as usual lots of symbolic comparison to the deckchairs on the Titanic are being made. This is not my first post on the subject of the future of English Cricket, and nor I expect will it be my last, and it most certainly is no secret that I am no fan of the way the ECB is run, or their decision making process and resultant decisions.
The irony of the continued use of the Titanic deckchairs symbolism is that it continues to work: reorganising 18 counties into 12 and 6, selecting past players to manage and coach the team, what is it that they say is the sign of madness: repeatedly making the same mistakes or something along those lines.
They say an addict can’t begin to recover until they admit they are the problem, and that is my start point in looking at what England do next. The ECB needs to hold up its hands and admit it is the problem. Yes they will get hammered. Yes there will be a lot of ‘I told you so” but if they were ever bog enough to admit it they would warrant our support in trying to fix it. After all we all want cricket to succeed don’t we? That is cricket at all levels and all formats as the first most obvious mistake people keep making is in thinking they are not intertwined.
I recently tweeted that as England weren’t looking at the business world to solve the issues with the batting line up, maybe they shouldn’t look at the cricket world to solve their business issues. Having spent much of my career “turning round companies” that were struggling I never once entered a company with the owner/board telling me that the issues they faces were unique to their sector/market and I wouldn’t be any use as I hadn’t got experience in widget production.Truth is pretty much every business is the same: staff, shareholders, customers and the strength of a good board/manager is in knowing what you don’t know. An experienced Chair and MD with no cricket experience but with experience of changing a companies direction, culture, way of doing things would easily find the consultants and experts to advice them on cricket matters.
If Stage One is admitting they are part of the problem, then Stage Two is admitting it will take time (5 years) to sort it out and during that time the team shouldn’t be expected to win every series (not that they do but the marketing teams keep trying to con us) and as a result revenues will be lower. Ticket prices are too high, the game is too dependent on alcohol, fast food and merchandise sales – all of which have nothing at all to do with the quality of the game.
Which brings me to Stage Three, acceptance that the commercial model has limited time left and continually adding more and more overhyped mediocre cricket is doing more harm than good in the long run.
Personally I would look at the following:
- playing county games in the summer on pitches that will test both batters and bowlers
- using the one day white ball format as a development format (so it can be played at the same time as the County games)
- keeping the 18 counties for red ball and T20 but jazz the T20 up with some of the Hundred gimmicks and protect the development of the womans game.
- invest in the Lions and sync their tours to be full tours a year ahead of the main team tour (if I only did one thing I would do this to help county players become test players)
- playing the T20 at the end of the season when any poor weather has least impact (lights, hybrid pitches, easier to reschedule shorter format)
But the main thing I would do is to ring in an external Chair and CEO and on their first day give then a blank piece of paper and a nice new pencil and let them start afresh. Far better to then take their concepts and fine tine them to accommodate prioritise and commitments than to try and squeeze all the existing stuff into a new structure.
Remember the deckchairs? The Titanic sank and so is English Cricket. Don’t be fooled by ticket sales and Television rights, the product is at best mediocre and getting worse, the customer base depends on a) a high disposable income and b) an ability to drink a lot, and all the ex pros that are being lined up to follow in the last failure – well that is just like our batting order and look at how that is working out.
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