Are three divisions the answer to avoiding autumn’s chill wind?
It says a lot about
the commercial importance of the FLt20 competition that autumn has arrived with
the County Championship still only three-quarters of the way through its programme
Tinker with the format at will and it still appears beyond the wit of man to shoehorn sixteen four-day games into anything less than five and half months. And while that won't put off the diehard fans, there will be plenty of potential interest drifting towards football - or Strictly for that matter - by this time of year, just as the season reaches its peak.
The first-class county system is not about to change fundamentally but would three divisions really be such a bad thing?
Collingwood’s captaincy might just win the day for Durham
Despite the lengthening shadows, the Championship is shaping up – again – to be a thrilling race to the wire. Having pulled off a brilliant win against leaders Yorkshire, Durham are now in the driving seat, just a handful of points behind and with a game in hand.
Even without Graham Onions their attack is a strong one and they have two genuine all-rounders in
Ben Stokes and Scott Borthwick. But the key factor in a relatively unstarry side is the captaincy of Paul Collingwood. Last year he took over from Phil Mustard with Durham having won none of their first eight games and guided the club to safety. A Championship medal this year would be deserved reward for a player who has committed himself to his home team even at the expense of T20 riches abroad.
Even so, Yorkshire won’t give up without a fight so now is not the time to look away.
Would Coldplay turn up to play without Chris Martin?
England take on Ireland today amid the perennial debate about whether it is fair to rest top players when the paying public expect to see every star on display.
There is no doubt that it can be thoroughly disappointing to miss out on a full-strength display – and you wouldn’t expect to pitch up to a Coldplay gig only to discover that Chris Martin (not the New Zealand bowler) had ducked out to be replaced by Olly Murs.
Then again, this development reflects the fact that we now know what England’s full-strength team actually is – not something that could have been said in times gone by. And in any case, it means that there are those in Dublin today who will be able tell their grandchildren that they were in the crowd when the great Gary Ballance made his England debut.
More women’s cricket please
A cross-format Ashes victory for England’s women may have given us a glimpse of the future. Not, perhaps, for the men’s game (at least in this country) but certainly for the women in terms of attracting mainstream interest.
Just as tests and T20 games provide different types of spectacle, so there is no reason to think that people who enjoy watching men play cricket will not enjoy watching women, which is why coverage by the media and co-staging short-form games is so vital. Counties should consider the same type of arrangement, even if that means putting on friendly games.