Don Topley: Looking at the arguments for and against new t20 plans

He's a former England captain and the country's all-time leading run scorer - but is Alastair Cook l

He's a former England captain and the country's all-time leading run scorer - but is Alastair Cook less famous than your average WWE wrestler? Picture: PA SPORT - Credit: PA

In his latest weekly column, cricket writer and pundit Don Topley looks at the arguments for and against the new t20 conpetition in county cricket.

There has been much media discussion and passionate argument at all 18 professional County Cricket Clubs over the proposed new eight team t20 competition for 2020.

This week, I look at the persuasive arguments as profiled in the press.

Hampshire CCC chairman, Rod Bransgrove wants the new t20 Competition, arguing the following points...


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1) Traditional cricket lovers have failed to attract a significant new audience nor attract young people to the sport. Domestic cricket has just ticked along as it always has for hundreds of years. The game is on a desperate downward spiral.

2) First Class Counties have variously experienced extreme financial stress in recent years, with at least three almost going bust.

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3) This new t20 proposal was first mooted in 2008 but the 70,000 elder members of the 18 counties have vetoed any development or interest for a new product.

4) 18 participating counties in our current t20 Blast simply dilute the product. The new t20 will provide an elite 'Best' v 'Best' with the 'Better' overseas players in a competition played over a short period of time, in the height of summer – comparable to the IPL and the Big Bash.

5) 3 out of 5 children between the ages of 7 and 13 have never participated or know absolutely nothing about cricket.

6) Only 2 out of 100 children state that cricket is their favourite sport.

7) County chairmen are aware their members dominate our ECB Governing Body. A high percentage of the members selfishly do not want the domestic game to change. Those 70,000 members are a tiny audience where over 10 million people may be genuinely interested in cricket.

8) This new t20 competition will bolster the finances of the game and secure the future-proofing of the sport for all 18 counties and even Minor Counties.

9) The new product is part of the ECB's joined-up process in encouraging participation and interest 'Cricket Unleashed'.

10) Free-to-air television has a part to play, but the sport of WWE wrestling has never been on terrestrial TV – and WWE wrestlers are more well-known than Alastair Cook!

11) The new league will be targeting families (not the older county members) and, in particular, mothers and children with safe and secure environments at larger venues.

12) This has to happen for the sake of cricket and its future.

Essex CCC chairman, John Farragher, does NOT want the new t20 Competition. He argues..

1) The new proposal is a serious gamble, and could seriously devalue our own domestic T20 competition, which is attracting increased crowds year on year.

2) It could also negatively impact our current 18 team domestic cricket, including the longer 4-day game.

3) We would throw away 130 years of history and tradition.

4) Some Counties are simply voting for financial gain. Some may not host games but will receive an additional £1.3m per County.

5) The changes could be to the detriment of the counties that will not have one of the t20 new teams. Other 'smaller' counties - the likes of Essex, Kent, Sussex, Northants -would be pushed to one side and be made into minor counties.

6) Keep the current 18 team t20 Blast and bring in two Divisions based on promotion and relegation.

7) Spend the proposed masses of new TV money to make two t20 Divisions work.

8) All Counties have their own very powerful tribal support and they would get a high level of support with a promotion and relegation in the existing t20 competition.

9) Not convinced about the new audience to support the proposed new identified teams. In the UK, cricket supporters do not just reside in the 6 main cities like they do in Australia.

10) Welsh Rugby went down a similar route in 2003 and it's taken a generation to find attendances have not improved.

My word of caution would be that this new t20 is potentially three years away, and the international and domestic cricket scene could be very different, even by 2020.

But what do you think? Let me know via my sportsdesk colleague Mark Heath at mark.heath@archant.co.uk!

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