Tag Archives: T20

T20: Pow? Crash? Bang? Is there really no alternative?

It is possible that two thousand people made their way to Old Trafford last night lured there by this advertisement on Lancashire’s web site or by some other tripe hype.

It was a Wednesday evening.  It was very, very cold and blustery.  Earlier in the day the prospects for play had seemed uncertain.  And Lancashire were playing Northants.  But the numbers paying at the gates must have been a disappointment to the authorities. 

Where was the 'buzz' yesterday at Old Trafford?

The throng is part of the T20 experience.  There would seem to be a minimum density of crowd and intensity of ‘buzz’ below which a significant part of the attraction is removed.  It is obvious, but it needs saying, the fewer the people attending the weaker the draw of the event.    

Picture Window: the view from the indoor school

Third Man deposited his son at the indoor school which offered those who did not wish to venture outside this view of proceedings.

He then made his way round to the Pavilion to catch a dozen or so overs of the Lancashire innings.

In truth, the experience was not very enjoyable.  The weather must make a huge difference which raises the question:  in time, will Clubs that enjoy warmer evenings attract greater crowds, make more money at the gate and the bars, buy in better players and increase their chances of winning more cash and gaining access to international competitions?

Local Hero in Vermilion

However, the effectiveness of imported players is proving questionable.  In cricket jet-lag now measures the time between the arrival of a visiting international BSD and his first match winning performance.

It is also redefining what is meant by affinity. This report of the match at Cricinfo makes an unintended point: “Northants openers Loye (ex-Lancs, TM) and Lou Vincent, the club’s stand-in overseas signing, took the score to 23 after two overs of their reply. Vincent, who spent the latter half of the 2008 season at Old Trafford, has signed for the Steelbacks for 10 days until Zimbabwean Elton Chigumbura arrives.” 

It was good therefore to see the young and HOME GROWN Tom Smith make a fluent and untroubled 67 off 47 balls. 

The performances of home grown talent are inspiring to the three most likely ‘audiences’ making up the support on the night: youngsters who can dream of following in the footsteps of these ‘local heroes’; those going after work or as part of some hospitality package who can identify with players with a similar (in this case) Lancastrian approach to life, and older supporters who can take pride in their club fulfilling the higher purpose of producing good players for the game and its history. 

So do we really need expensive international itinerants either to win matches or to draw crowds?  The marketing of these matches could equally well centre upon the lives, progress and performance of local ‘lads’ like Smith and Simon Kerrigan who in the Northants innings took 3 for 17 in his four overs. 

Climbing Pro-Cricket's Ladder

Two further observations:

1.         The training bike has given way to the ladder as a means of releasing tension and keeping muscles warm.

2.         The deflected sweep, the flicks over either shoulder and the switch hit are now the main ways batsmen score.  These shots demand skilful and brave batting. 

Pace bowlers are finding it hard to counter them, but this change in the balance of power between batsman and paceman further enhances the attractions of spin.

Debt in deflationary times is a dangerous thing.  Treasurers and Chief Executives will be keeping an anxious eye on the gates.   Last night’s attendance suggests that the honeymoon is over.  There already needs to be a new reason to watch Twenty20.  Could that also be a new meaning for affinity marketing?

For the scores on the doors click here.

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O My Hornby and my Barlow long ago

Francis Thompson (1859-1907) was born in Preston, half a dozen miles from where Third Man now lives.  You’ll probably know he wrote a famous cricket poem, ‘At Lord’s’.  You may not know that he studied medicine in Manchester, but never practised, instead moving to London to try to become a writer, became an opium addict and a vagrant before being saved by a prostitute.  His poem begins:

It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,

Though my own red roses there may blow;

It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,

Though the red roses crest the caps, I know.

For the field is full of shades as I near a shadowy coast,

And a ghostly batsman plays to the bowling of a ghost,

And I look through my tears on a soundless-clapping host

As the run stealers flicker to and fro,

To and fro:

O my Hornby and my Barlow long ago !

Partnerships are not just important for today’s score they are the way cricket is perceived and enjoyed through time.   Everyone has a pair of Hornby and Barlows.  They come when you begin watching County Cricket and, as Thompson warns us, they haunt us forever.

Third Man’s run stealers, flickering to and fro, were Roy Marshall and Jimmy Gray of the Hampshire team that won the County Championship for the first time in 1961.   

Who were yours?

Is this process of the etching of the imagination by watching cricket one of the most important part of our enjoyment?  Cricket is not something that inhabits only the ‘now’.  Memory turns the players of our earlier times into the ghosts of our present.  Memory permeates our appreciation of the game and enriches our lives.

When we watch one match do we watch again every match we have ever seen?  We immediately liken the new cap Flynn to old warhourse Fraser and are transported to the 1980s.  How we wonder would Richards have played this bowling?

Unless it is your very first match, there are more than 15 people on the field when we watch a game of cricket.  There are the ghosts.

O my Marshall and my Jimmy Gray long ago !

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