If It Ain't Broke, The ECB Will Fix It

Although the weather in this part of the UK is still comparatively mild (almost warm, in fact) the English cricket season has long since disappeared into the darker recesses of the memory. I'm not fortunate enough to be personally acquainted with any professional cricketers, but I would imagine that most of them (with the obvious exception of Mark Ramprakash, who's dancing on television) are on holiday and some of them (Ian Blackwell) are on honeymoon.

It all seems quite a long time ago now, but, if you really try to remember, you can recall that Sussex won the County Championship and the re-vamped (aka ruined) Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy, Essex won the First Division of the Pro 40 League, and Leicestershire won the Twenty20 Cup. The two first-class counties I follow most closely, Middlesex and Somerset, finished bottom of most of the competitions they entered, although my Minor County, Devon, did very well.

My lasting impression, though, is of what an unholy mess the county season's become. Okay, it wasn't much cop beforehand, but what really gave the ECB the peculiar idea that changing the C and G from a knockout competition into a group-based one where most sides lost interest after the first couple of games would be of benefit to English cricket? Not to mention getting rid of the Minor Counties, who rarely won and usually lost heavily, but whose participation in the competition had given people in many parts of the country their only opportunity to watch first-class cricketers in live action.

And then we had the re-launched Pro 40 League, which simply involved lopping five overs off the old Totesport League and pretending that a 40 over league was a radical new departure for cricket in this country. Well, maybe all the people who run the ECB are younger than me (the visual evidence suggests otherwise although I doubt the same is true of its marketing department) and don't remember the halcyon days of the John Player League, but it had obviously escaped their notice that the first league of that type actually began in 1969.

So, less a radical departure and more an example of re-embracing an old idea because you feel like altering things and can't think of anything original to do.

Anyway, that's all over and it's time to get on with the winter's cricket which certainly won't be devoid of meaning.

Oh dear, what's that? The ICC Champions Trophy has just started?

If it ain't broke...

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