New Twenty20 tournament in 2020 will attract family audiences says ECB's Tom Harrison

Abhinav Kini
Tom Harrison

Chief executive of the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Tom Harrison believes the proposed city-based Twenty20 (T20) tournament will engage the youth of tomorrow.

The unnamed tournament which will commence in the summer of 2020 has the full support of 18 first-class counties and the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) according to the ECB.

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However, as the domestic tournament will feature eight new regional teams and not the 18 first-class counties, it will still require a change in the ECB's articles of association which will be addressed in a board meeting on Tuesday (28 March).

Harrison claims the new tournament, which will not overlap with the existing T20 Blast competition, will try to tap into a family audience, engaging British youth whom according to a survey of 2,000 parents, 75% spend less than 60 minutes outside per day — less than the UN guidelines for prison inmates.

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"It is very clear we are not talking to as big an audience as we should be, because our tournaments are not as relevant as they should be," Harrison said, as quoted on ESPN. "We need to change our thinking on that to be relevant to a new generation that responds to big box-office occasions."

"We have to think differently if we're going to be successful at attracting family audiences to our competitions. This is about growth. This is a fantastic opportunity for us to create something that appeals to an entirely new audience, grows cricket's overall audience, and enable us to control something that has real value for the long term."

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With the 18 first-class counties not participating, they will instead be shareholders for the impending T20 tournament and will each take £1.3m per year from the broadcasting rights.

"We accept we're asking them [counties] to step back and offer us their players for a month of the season," he added. "That is difficult."

"But what we've tried to say is that the deal they get out of that is increased financial sustainability, a strong future for all 18 first-class counties and a strong link to participation. It's all about future-proofing our game."

Although Test matches will be played at the same time as the new tournament, Harrison insisted that there would be no crossover, having recently stated that he supports a proposal for four-day matches.

"Test cricket is our staple and is something we feel incredibly strongly about," the ECB chief explained. "We don't see the audiences for Test cricket being impacted by the new T20."

New information about the proposed T20 competition

  • Eight newly-created teams will play 36 games over a 38-day summer window, with four home games per team.
  • All games will be televised with significant free-to-air exposure.
  • The tournament will follow the Indian Premier League (IPL) play-off system format.
  • A players' draft, with squads of 15 including three overseas players.

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