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John Stern: T20 must become more than just a good time

June 23rd, 2008 by John Stern in County cricket, Twenty20 and tagged

Is Twenty20 all it’s cracked up to be? I went to Lord’s the other week (as a paying punter, I hasten to add) to see Middlesex play Essex. There was a hefty crowd there, about 15,000 apparently, but nowhere near the full house that Lord’s first embraced T20 four years ago.

The whole experience left me a bit cold. It took 25 minutes to get a drink, which for an event lasting three hours is not great, and the game was almost incidental to most of the crowd. It was supposed to be a Middlesex home game yet you wouldn’t have known it. Most of the people around me in the Compton stand were blokes in suits on the piss, with very few kids in evidence. I don’t have a problem with this in principle, but surely for T20 to sustain itself at domestic level clubs must engender some serious tribal loyalty? I remember John Emburey, when he was coach of Middlesex, bemoaning the fact that the first ever Lord’s T20 match against Surrey did not feel like a home match for his county.

Of course, cricket matches – at least in England – are social events and always have been. But Twenty20, with its football-style time-span, has to develop a similar level of loyalty so people will turn up in numbers because they care about their team, and the result, rather than just to have a good time. I don’t see Twenty20 surviving simply as a vehicle for lager consumption on a weekday evening.

John Stern is editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in County cricket, Twenty20 | 1 Comment »

One Response to “John Stern: T20 must become more than just a good time”

  1.   Gary Naylor says:

    The boozing is a problem at The Oval too. Having said that, my kids have seen three T20 matches and are looking forward to Friday’s last of the series, despite Surrey’s dismal form.

    I hate the idea, but I do think family enclosures are the way forward (there may be such enclosures at The Oval, but, having paid just £15, my kids are members with free and full access to the Pavilion: a superb deal).

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