‘I Fancy A Day At The….Oh…’
The 2017 County schedule is somewhat quirky. Almost everyone knew this heading in to the season, with dedicated blocks defined for red ball and white ball cricket (both 50-over and 20-over).
It hasn’t always been popular – with some fearing the County Championship has been further pushed to the margins – but even beyond this some scheduling decisions have been odd to say the least.
Despite there being seven Royal London One Day Cup games on Friday 12th and eight on Sunday 14th May, there were none on the Saturday.
This seems even more bizarre given that there were also seven games on Wednesday 10th and one on Thursday 11th.
Whilst the Thursday game can be comfortably explained away by simple use of the word ‘TV’ – giving heavy investors Sky a game to show – why work days such as Wednesday and Friday saw a bumper schedule of games whilst Saturday saw none seems a little harder to explain.
In this same vein many were left confused by the decision to only play two games on Bank Holiday Monday, meaning only those within a sensible distance of either Leeds or Birmingham had a realistic chance of watching some live cricket.
Likewise why Thursday 11th had one game whilst Monday 15th and Tuesday 16th have none also seems a little uneven – though the IPL might be the bigger draw for Sky Sports as the tournament hurtles towards its conclusion, Sky had no issue showing Pakistans tour of the West Indies at the same time as India’s premier T20 competition; showing their willingness to show cricket on at least two of it’s half dozen channels.
The One Day Cup generally holds slim stock among many fans – the poor cousin of both the Championship and T20 Blast in many respects – but it does have a place in the domestic schedule, and its benefits.
It helps support the national sides greater focus on white ball cricket, it acts as a bridge between T20 and longer formats whilst also providing a gateway of its own to new fans (I can’t be the only supporter introduced to the professional ranks via one day competitions; in my case the Sunday League).
The T20 explosion has also made it a far more exciting affair overall, with most games now offering up 450 (or even 500) runs and many notable performances to thrill and excite both young and old fans.
But, as with so many things, it needs to be seen to offer up its full value to the sport – lest it remains the ‘poor cousin’.
Whilst there must be some acknowledgement trying to schedule any kind of domestic season in any sport is a bloody huge challenge, it stills seems bizarre that a seven game schedule on a Wednesday was preferable to a more thought out, weekend heavy approach.