Posts Tagged ‘county cricket’

Are The Internet And TV To Blame For Dwindling Crowd Numbers?

Having seen the final part of today’s thrilling Test match play out on the internet and through Twitter, it is quite clear that Test cricket is not dying and is very much alive and well. It received a fanatical following through websites providing live text commentary and on Twitter, from which it is not difficult to see that claims of its untimely, and seemingly unwelcome, death are overestimated.

However, TV pictures of the ground, along with images posted on those very same text commentary streams and social media websites, appeared to suggest otherwise. The New Wanderers Stadium was deserted. All that could be seen was a militant army of grey plastic seats, upturned in their disgust at what was on offer and apparently painting an entirely different picture.

So which tells the truth about the health of the of the purest form of our summer game?

Well in my view the answer to this conundrum is simply that the way we view cricket is changing. Gone are the days when passionate fans would flock to watch matches and huddle under the umbrellas that would have been necessary in Johannesburg today. Instead, today’s fans dip in and out of the action, perhaps while at work, or on their smartphones while out and about, and soak up the action that way. These modern day fans are no less passionate, it is just that, unlike our predecessors, we are in the fortunate position of being able to follow the action in whatever way we choose.

This is where the similarities with English county cricket are startling. It has never had particularly big crowds and those that it did have have dwindled over the past decade or so. However, I would suggest that it has more fans than ever, especially if we are to believe the web traffic data that leading cricket websites routinely espouse. These show that the figures are steadily increasing year on year and prove those luddites that scoff of ‘one man and a dog’ every April to be palpably wrong.

Can the current lack of ground-going fans be altered?

Perhaps, if administrators were to make attending a Test match itself a more convenient and enjoyable experience (day/night cricket anyone?) then things would improve slightly, but it is unlikely to make too much of a difference as it is impossible to stand in the way of a market-led change that sees people power dictate how cricket is ‘consumed’ to an ever greater extent.

Fancy Being Kent’s New Coach?

Kent are looking for a new coach following Paul Farbrace's resignation. Could it be you?

Kent CCC have taken the step of advertising their vacant head coach position on the ECB’s website, meaning that we can all apply should we fancyleading a county to Championship glory. I am sure all cricket fans have dreamt, at one point or another, of leading club or country to unprecedented success and have bemoaned the latest selectorial errors made by the incumbents. Well now we can put that right. Sort of.

The brief states that the successful applicant will be, “astute, results driven, have outstanding and demonstrable man/team management skills, be well organised, have a track record of success gained through effective coaching at all levels and will currently be successful ina senior coaching position.”

It even adds for those who may think otherwise given the team’s recent on-field performances, “A knowledge, appreciation and understanding of the game is absolutely critical.”

All of which, for one reason or another, rules out most of us; but if you fancy a crack and are currently in the specified, “senior coaching position” then why not apply? I am sure Jamie Clifford would be happy to hear from you.

For the rest of us – well we can only dream!

Could Somerset Be In The Market For James Taylor?

The identity of James Taylor’s employers come March 2012 is fast becoming one of county cricket’s transfer stories of the winter. Nottinghamshire are widely thought of as the favourites to secure the 21 year-old’s signature, although Warwickshire are also believed to be in the hunt.

However, could Somerset have added their name to the list of potential suitors? Their Director of Cricket Brian Rose was quoted as saying over the weekend, “If one quality player came up this winter, we would be in a position to sign him. At the moment, that’s a non-issue, because, although I have got someone who could possibly fit the bill, it is not that straightforward.”

Could that someone be Mr Taylor and could the complicating factor be that it would require the Leicestershire man to move to a different part of the country – something it is thought that he is reluctant to do and a factor that - along with their financial clout – makes Nottinghamshire firm favourites.

The fact that Taylor also recently visited Warwick only adds to the intrigue and speculation and has resulted in his current teammates indulging in a little light-hearted banter on Twitter.

Finally, don’t be surprised that if, in rather an ironic twist, he ends up staying at Leicestershire to see out the remaining year on his contract, meaning that all of this fervent speculation is for nothing.

Where do you think county cricket’s hottest property will end up for 2012? Let us know in the comments below.

Legspinners – a misunderstood species?

With yesterday’s announcement of leg-spinner Chris Schofield’s departure from Surrey came a reminder that some things never change in English cricket. For those that don’t know, he was widely hailed as the English Shane Warne and cut his teeth at the beginning of England’s professional era when central contracts heralded the new dawn and laid the foundations for the current team’s success.

While most players since then have benefited from the increased security that these contracts and the resulting consistency in selection that they bring, leg-spinners still appear to very much play by the old rules.

Take the example of Adil Rashid – he burst onto the scene during the latter half of 2006 and was immediately fast-tracked into England’s set-up before being discarded at the end of 2009 after a fleeting, and unsuccessful, appearance in limited overs cricket. He has since been overtaken in the pecking order by Scott Borthwick and quite possibly others such as Somerset’s Max Waller.

As for Waller, he could offer the latest example of mishandling. He appeared for Somerset in the Champions League and impressed all, including the notoriously hard-to-please Ian Chappell, before being ruthlessly dropped when Ireland’s George Dockrell became available for selection. The list could go on with Yorkshire’s Mark Lawson and Somerset’s Michael Munday both disappearing off the county circuit in recent times. Sussex’s Will Beer is also sadly in danger of going the same way.

Why this repeatedly occurs is open to debate. Perhaps it is because leg-spinners take longer to learn their craft than other players? Or maybe it is just such a difficult art to master?

Either way it would be a shame if more was not done to encourage them as the sight of a leggie on a worn pitch ruthlessly exposing their victim’s weaknesses is one of cricket’s most harmless and fundamental pleasures. Surrey’s release of Chris Schofield simply provides a neat link between the old era and the new and serves to remind us that some things never change.

Should Cricket Have A Transfer System?

With Joe Denly and James Taylor either having left or predicted to leave their respective counties, the issue of whether cricket should have a transfer system rears its ugly head once again.

Why should Kent and Leicestershire spend thousands on nurturing and coaching these young players only to see them leave when enticed by more money and better prospects elsewhere?

What can be done to help or are we rapidly seeing a two-tier setup emerge in county cricket?

Cricket World discusses the options, please let us know what you think in the comments below.

Muralitharan Signing Gives Gloucestershire Hope

Legendary Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has signed a two-year deal to play Twenty20 cricket for Gloucestershire in 2011 and 2012.

Fresh from helping one new team – Kochi – launch their IPL career, Murali is set to join his third county as they bid to put behind them a poor 2010 season.

Having lost the services of William Porterfield, Anthony Ireland, Gemaal Hussain and Steve Kirby over the winter, the recent news that captain Alex Gidman has signed a new contract and now the high-profile signing of Muralitharan has given the Bristol-based team a huge boost.

The club hasn’t won a top-flight competition since 2004. Could 2011 be the year that they get back to winning ways?

In 2007, they reached the final of the Twenty20 Cup and they will be hoping that Muralitharan – a man who has won both the IPL and the Champions League, not to mention the World Cup – can produce some of his magic in the two years he is with them.

He has an outstanding T20 record, conceding just 6.16 runs per over, which in the shortest format of the game where batsmen often dominate, is nothing short of world-class.

He may be retiring from international cricket following the 2011 World Cup, but Gloucestershire supporters will hope he can add his name to the long and illustrious list of stars to have played for their club. Even for Murali, living up to the feats of the likes of Mike Proctor, Zaheer Abbas, Courtney Walsh, not to mention W.G Grace and Wally Hammond, will be a tall order, however.