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July 2008
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The TWC summit: The EPL

July 23rd, 2008 by Sam Collins in County cricket, EPL, England

After the ECB announced its proposals for an English Premier League last week, we asked our panel to give their verdict on the new domestic structure…

Edward Craig

Deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer

The EPL is a fantastic idea. It will re-generate the flagging Twenty20 Cup with some glamorous overseas players and a cash investment that can market
and spice up each match more successfully than happens now. It is self-contained in the schedule, will have an added tension with promotion and relegation and more people will be able to see a higher-class competition. It will be county cricket played with England players – yes, England players, county cricket, playing – it can happen, and the rest of the world will watch. Twenty20 Internationals are becoming increasingly important, this can only help England’s T20 prospects. And the Twenty20 Friday league? Now everyone knows when the games will be – every Friday - brilliant. Not even football does that. I think the ECB have got this one right.

Daniel Brigham

Assistant editor of The Wisden Cricketer

The EPL will be of massive interest for about the first five games. Then everyone will realise watching Middlesex take on Northamptonshire, with Matthew Bell and Paul Harris among the ‘star’ international players, is about as close to the IPL as the Carling Cup is to the Champions League.

The ECB has missed a massive opportunity to secure cricket’s future in the British – and the worldwide – public’s conscience for the next couple of decades and all because Giles Clarke thinks ‘counties first, England second.’ It stinks.

Rob Smyth

Freelance journalist and fitness fanatic

When football’s Premier League was set up in 1992, the legendary writer Brian Glanville christened it the ‘Greed Is Good’ league. The description looks more apt by the year, and it surely applies to the EPL. It’s too much of a bad thing. Aside from that Twenty20 is an affront to the game, with all the soul and wit of a drunken back-alley fumble, the structure looks flawed on a number of levels, not least the preposterous plan to invite two guest overseas teams each year. For the umpteenth time, the ECB has shown it knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Robin Martin-Jenkins

Sussex allrounder, columnist and beneficiary

I’d say the new plans for T20 in this country are disappointing. I don’t see much difference between the two different proposed competitions. Admittedly we await the decision on how many overseas players will be allowed but a competition with fewer sides, and therefore better players, including some top-class overseas ones, would surely be a more attractive proposition for potential sponsors and the TV audience. It wouldn’t have to be based on cities (that would clearly not work) but the 18 counties could have been split into six areas with the venues for matches shared between the three teams in each area. County stalwarts, like me, might miss out on the new competition but I think I’m big enough to forgo a salary hike for the betterment of English cricket!

King Cricket

Blogger extraordinaire

Of course they’ve fudged it. The ECB are fudgers par excellence. Only people made out of sugar, butter or milk need apply for positions there.

That said, there was no perfect solution. They wanted cricket on Friday nights and they wanted a big tournament that would attract the stars. Unfortunately the cricket calendar makes those two wants mutually exclusive, so they’ve created a competition for each: the big name-laden EPL and a longer-running tournament for July, August and September. Maybe this is the next step in their market research and the two competitions will be amalgamated with the best bits of each in a few years.

Initially, the EPL appears significantly the bigger draw. However it may suffer through direct comparisons with the IPL. Plus it’s got that stupid league-leading-to-semi-finals format that makes finishing top of little actual benefit.

If the EPL does come out like a pale facsimile of its Indian cousin, then perhaps elements of the other league will have more legs. Get regular Friday night matches onto terrestrial television and who honestly knows how successful it might prove? Twenty20 might reach newer viewers who wouldn’t be attracted by international players they’ve never heard of anyway. It’ll be a new British summer lifestyle: everyone watching the Twenty20 before heading off to the pub …
No? Not buying it?

Sam Collins

Web editor of www.

It’s a classic, bungling farce from the ECB. Clarke and Collier are comic-book villains – blinkered and greedy. Not only does the new structure threaten to saturate Twenty20, but it is crass stupidity to hold the EPL in June, when the English summer is at its most unpredictable. Seeing as we are no longer allowed to watch Test cricket after the beginning of August, why couldn’t they have held it then? I do like the idea of Friday night Twenty20, but that is an isolated positive.

The person I feel sorry for in all this is Keith Bradshaw. He came up with a great idea and he’s been hung out to dry. He’s a cricket administrator, not David Blaine, and was never going to convince counties to sign up for a structure that might eventually lead to their downfall. The EPL is merely further confirmation that the much-needed reform in the English game will never happen because of the self-interest of the counties.


Most think it’s a bad thing, there’s a lone voice in support, although all our writers do concede positives. Still, the ECB and Giles Clarke have clearly given us the feeling that money comes first in their brave new world. We’ll have to wait till 2010 to find out whether it’ll work but before then we still need to know how many overseas players will play and exactly who those overseas teams will be (Allen Stanford’s got a side, apparently … )

Posted in County cricket, EPL, England | 6 Comments »

Performance of the week: The South African batsmen

July 23rd, 2008 by TWC in South Africa in England, Test cricket and tagged , , ,

4. The South African top-order, England v South Africa, Headingley, 18-22 July 2008

As England’s abject first innings display at Edgbaston showed, you don’t always have to take 20 wickets to win a Test match – sometimes you just need to be bowling when wickets are presented to you. Of course, not many Test players just get themselves out stupidly: there’s usually some scoreboard pressure backing up disciplined bowling.

Since they blew off the cobwebs still clinging to them in the first innings at Lord’s, South Africa’s batsmen have delivered six hundreds, with only Kallis missing out. Nevertheless, his curiously tentative play has been compensated by the admirable Prince, who has two tons. England’s batting “unit” have just KP’s adrenaline-fuelled first knock against his land of birth and Bell’s excellent 199 to show for all that stability in selection.

Given platforms like those provided by Smith’s blockers, bludgeoners and scamperers, good bowlers merely have to bowl well for the results to follow. Once the South African bowlers hit the same inspirational form as their batsmen, England might need six bowlers, six batsmen and two keepers just to live with the Proteas.

By Gary Naylor

Posted in South Africa in England, Test cricket | No Comments »

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