We don’t need another Stanford debacle! ECB have to get 20/20 right

This week has seen the outline of the plans for the new 20/20 competition in England launched and my initial thoughts are positive.

We have stood still before, we made the wrong choices when 20/20 first came out, we got in bed with Allen Stanford – maybe it was an egotistical thing that we weren’t going to be dictated to by the Indian league, the ECB clearly thought they could do their own thing – thinking that because they invented it, they knew best and wanted to do it their way, so the ECB has stood still on the back of the IPL and not getting involved and the decision to go with Stanford has probably cost English cricketers up to ten years of being able to play in the powerhouse leagues but now with Andrew Strauss in charge that has changed.

I am biased towards Andrew as he was a great captain and I can call him a friend, but he is the best thing – along with Tom Harrison – to have happened to the ECB in the last 25 years. They are forward thinking people and this is a massive step forward for England in trying to get things right and I will think now is the time for the ECB to embrace other competitions and in-turn over boards will embrace the ECB’s tournaments and that will raise the game in this country. This could become the driving force for the future of the England cricket team.

This could become the driving force for the future of the England cricket team.

There are good ideas, but it is a long way away but it will be interesting to see where Test Match cricket goes because by the time that starts we will have three more IPLs, three more Big Bashes and three more years of 20/20 throughout the world and what we see in Test Matches at the minute, the quality is not diminishing but the crowds are and whether there will be a knock-on effect I am not so sure.

Two-years ago we didn’t have a competition and in an ideal world you want the test players to play and all the best players from around the world but that will all take time and there will be issues to resolve and answer.

Geographically for instance what will be the nearest team for me? I don’t think we will see one in Durham, I am not sure it will be Headingley – it might be Old Trafford which I think would be a worry for anyone from the cricketing public in Scotland, through to Durham and parts of Yorkshire – if the furthest place north of Warwickshire is Old Trafford that would be a concern, but we don’t know yet so we will have to wait and see – it is a positive thing for English cricket that we are moving forward.

This means the game is evolving and moving forward, the counties will be happy with the money they are getting and the cricketing public in England will see eight teams with some great players. But it will take three or four years before we see the best of it, like with any tournament.

We have all asked for this and it is well down the road to us getting it and I believe the right people are making the decisions, to make sure the structure is workable – this won’t please everybody but we have to make sure it is workable.

We could see games all over – they need to market it right and get bums on seats, it will be big commercially but that is not what it is for, we need people to experience it – have a day at the cricket and seeing the best players play, but it needs to be accessible all around the country and if they get that right, it will be spot on for me.

I can see the current NatWest becoming a feeder tournament. It probably needs to be played two weeks before the auction as I imagine new tournament will have an auction but it could be like an X Factor trial for the big league and it could work.

Away from 20/20 I saw Chris Read announce he would be quitting at the end of the season, one of a few now with Ryan Sidebottom doing the same thing.

Both good friends of mine and former colleagues and what they have both done in their careers has been fantastic.

With Chris I think he got a raw deal with England, he got Pidgeon-holed very quickly and I don’t think that was justified – him and James Foster are as good a gloveman as there have been in 20-years – so to see him retiring, it is a testament to him he can be at the top for so long.

They have been a credit to the game and their counties and I hope both get the send-offs they deserve at both Headingley and Trent Bridge.

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