Tom Harrison, head of Management Speak and also cricket or some such at the ECB, has said: “what we are doing here is future-proofing county cricket.”
What does he mean by this?
Well, this future-proofing takes the form of the new Twenty20 tournament, which isn’t as sci-fi as you might have hoped and does not immediately seem to suggest replicants as a solution to England’s spin bowling crisis, but good for cricket.
Why is this happening?
Because, the kidz are not talking about cricket any more, and a focus group revealed that none of them know who any cricketers are. Shown pictures, one child thought that Andrew Strauss was a football manager (as if Lord Brockett would stoop to soccer). Another kid thought that Alastair Cook worked in Waitrose. One child thought that Australian batting great Steve Smith was Peppa Pig. But kids are horrible, aren’t they?
This tournament will be contested between eight ‘city’ franchises. It’ll be during the high summer, so that’s good, but that’s also when the Tests are on so… not so good? Oh, cricket. And, how will Alastair get out of his job on the cold meat counter?
Anyway, here are some other things that could possibly happen as Major Tom blasts cricket into the future.
Make franchise names the sort of things that kids can like totally really relate yeh?
The Birmingham Cool Dudes, the Yorkshire Daddy-Os and the West Country Wazzaps will be the talk of playgrounds from Eton to Winchester.
Cricket is a famously easy to understand sport, with its googlies, corridors of uncertainty, Chinamen and the intellectual articles of Ed Smith. Harrison, who has a flair for language that makes your head hurt, can take the lead on this. The “forward defence” becomes the “going forward defence.” The humble six becomes the “run-revenue maximising strategy”. An England batting collapse becomes a “temporary paradigm shift and course correction while never losing sight of our key core brand core values keys or brand car keys.” Gilo remains Gilo.
Clever old cricket has identified BMW as a role model. Once upon a time, only men used to buy BMWs. Very bad! Sad! So those clever Germans bought Mini, because of women, because everyone knows that women only like ickle cute things or something. And everyone lived happily ever after because BMW was now making money off men AND women. Cricket has decided to buy make-up and Muller Corners and now it’s all gravy because it's okay to love T20 AND Test matches amirite ladies?
Somewhat confusing tournament format
Comes as standard. A plays B, then the winner plays the loser of C v E1 (although if there’s a draw it’s D2 against B3 for the right to toss a coin against ABC1 and then if it's a tiebreaker it's all down to the will of the people)
Fatigue may set in
The tournament is scheduled to have 36 matches over 38 days. Not quite the glory days of the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies, which runs on to this day. In the Beausejour Stadium, Gros Islet, Saint Lucia, Scotland’s Gavin Hastings is nurdling it around in the quiet middle overs while Canadian tweaker Céline Dion dries up an end in their Key Group J big one. But still a lot, right? 38 days!
Self-cannibalisation, part 345
As mentioned above, the tournament is going to be during Tests, so it remains to be seen if the cricketers people actually give one about will be playing or not. Or playing another sort of cricket. Oh, also, they’re still keeping the regular, original recipe T20, the Natwest Blast.
A vague promise of exposure
There’s a suggestion that eight of the matches will be on regular, non-pay TV, which might be a shock to the system for those unclear of just how long a cricket match can go on for. Still, everyone’s wanted this for ages so we should be pleased. Well done cricket. Good luck to all concerned.