Cricket: Nicknames for the new era

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The Independent Online
THE POWERS that be in English cricket have become "desperately obsessed with gimmickry" and have resorted to promotional techniques that are "rather sad" according to Matthew Engel, the editor of Wisden, cricket's bible, said yesterday.

Engel was speaking after the English Cricket Board released a list of nicknames that will be used by the country's county teams during this season's new Sunday league competition. In Division One, plain old Yorkshire - perhaps inspired by the international side's defeat in The Ashes and hoping to rise up into some powerful new force - have become Yorkshire Phoenix, while in Division Two, Durham have suddenly become Dynamos.

Elsewhere, Gloucestershire have become Gladiators, Nottinghamshire have become Outlaws and Sussex have become Sharks.

The new initiative was the brainwave of the ECB's marketing department. "This season the idea is to reinforce the new aspects of the new league and introduce nicknames that will be relevant to young supporters," a spokesman said. "It's good from a marketing and PR point of view," he added, saying that counties had been encouraged, not forced, to choose nicknames.

The only county that has so far resisted the urge to pick a snazzy moniker is Kent, although a spokeswoman for the county denied that it was because they felt the idea was inappropriate and added that a name would be chosen soon.

The ECB spokesman said that counties might become closer to their supporters due to the nicknames, because fans will be able to identify more strongly with their side.

Such logic is likely to be given short shrift amongst traditionalists in the shires. "I think that if the product's right then people will want it," Engel said. "The marketing is the layer on top of that. The people running cricket have become desperately obsessed with gimmickry." He added: "It's rather sad because nicknames are something that evolve... This is like a pub being renamed. When imposed by a marketing department it tends not to work. It's harmless but rather sad."

In the new competition, which replaces the one-division Sunday league, matches will be played over 45 overs rather than 40, moving closer to the standard 50 overs used in one-day internationals. Crazee Cricket anyone?



1 Essex Eagles

2 Gloucestershire Gladiators

3 Hampshire Hawks

4 Kent (no nickname announced)

5 Lancashire Lightning

6 Leicestershire Foxes

7 Warwickshire Bears

8 Worcestershire Royals

9 Yorkshire Phoenix


1 Derbyshire Scorpions

2 Durham Dynamos

3 Glamorgan Dragons

4 Middlesex Crusaders

5 Northamptonshire Steelbacks

6 Nottinghamshire Outlaws

7 Somerset Sabres

8 Surrey Lions

9 Sussex Sharks