Let’s start with some cold hard facts. Here are the four completed innings from Sunday’s County Championship Division One: Yorkshire 113 all out (just two players made double figures); Warwickshire 126 all out; Lancashire 149 all out; Middlesex 161 all out. Four high profile counties playing at the top level of English domestic cricket.
Whilst they were crumbling on a grey August day the three latest contenders for England’s top order merry-go-round (Jennings, Westley and Malan) were underwhelming the Old Trafford faithful with a combined score of 33.
The timing of the county games is significant coming as it did on the back of a month long break to play in the NatWest T20 Blast. Which brings me to two simple questions:
Has T20 helped grow the value of the sport? Yes.
Has it come at a cost? Yes.
Namely, we seem to have forgotten how to bat properly. Now that is all well and good for a Friday night smash-up but for those of us who love the Test and county game it is more than a little worrying. That’s not me being snobby – even a traditionalist like myself accepts that four or five days is an unrealistic commitment for most. But ultimately are we robbing Peter to pay Paul?
The TV bonanza surrounding the IPL, The Big Bash and the new city-based domestic T20 competition will secure the future of the short form of the game.
But the same cannot be said for the for the four and five day game. Sport at the top level is all about quality – fans and viewers want to see the best of the best. Lose that and you lose everything.
Is that a price worth paying? Not in my book.