ECB-Time for Innovation
ECB is pulling all strings to make sure that it keeps its players away from the heat of IPL. The news that ECB chairman Giles Clarke is set to meet Sir Allen Stanford is a strong indication that ECB is taking this seriously. What Sir Allen and Modi have done beautifully is taken the game to the people.After all it is the audience that brings in the money and make’s any event a success. Trying to create the same amount of interest among the people in England would be a tedious task. The British audience is way to mature for 20/20. The fact that Sussex has not posed a serious threat in the competition states that most of the County Championship teams aren’t taking the domestic 20/20 tournament seriously. Other problems that ECB faces is that all the well know international players have already been roped in by the IPL or ICL.
Having established that ECB faces an uphill task in trying to find a decent audience that would help them create enough funds to pose a serious threat to IPL or ICL, I think its time to try something different. ECB has always been at the fore-front of innovation in cricket and I feal now is the time it identifies the niche in the associates nations and take the game to them. There is massive potential in countries like Afghanistan, UAE, Canada or The EU. Not only will it give good players from these countries exposure, it will help promote the game in these countries. I’m sure with Sir Allen’s deep pockets and help from ICC it wouldn’t be hard to create interest in these countries.
In order to maintain the standard of cricket, every team should have at least 3 international players. It would be a great learning experience for the associates. They should have 4 groups, with top 8 20/20 county teams. Then the countries they should focus on to promote cricket should be China, Afghanistan, UAE, Holland, Canada, Namibia, Scotland and Ireland. The teams should be divided up into four groups, with each group have two county teams and two associate nation’s. Ideally it should be a three week tournament to be held in July-August.
The nations mentioned above all have tremendous potential. Holland, Canada, Namibia and UAE have all qualified for the world cup on previous occasions. The huge south-asian communities in these countries would make it easier to promote the game in the country as well. China is important to the game becusae of the popullation and they have already shown keen interest by introducing the game at the school level. Playing alongside established international player would help them learn the game. Afghanistan mean while is already showing signs of being a cricket crazy nation. One feals motivating them would not be that hard a job and they will bring loads of heart to the competiton.
All and all it is very healthy to see the amount of competition out there, respective boards need to realise the responsibility they have towards the game. Perhaps it wont be a bad idea if IPL or ICL started looking for players in associate countries.