OPINION: If You Think The 100 Will “Safeguard” County Cricket… I’ve Got Some Men’s Tests To Sell You

Cast your mind back 20-something years to when Men’s Tests had “Crown Jewel” status – meaning they could ONLY be shown on Free-To-Air TV – and the ECB were lobbying for this to be removed.

The conversation went something like this:

ECB: Please can we remove “Crown Jewel” status from [Men’s] Tests?

Fans: But then you’ll just sell them to SKY and lock-out ordinary viewers!

ECB: We totally won’t do that – pinkie promise!

Government: Okay then. [Removes “Crown Jewel” status.]

ECB: Haha – ooops! We accidental sold the Tests to Sky and locked-out ordinary viewers! [Rolls in money.]

Fans: *sad face*

Now fast-forward to 2018…

The ECB are telling cricket fans that The 100 not only won’t impact county cricket – it will help preserve it.


Whenever questions get asked of the ECB, the comparison that comes up is always Australia: Cricket Australia do this so much better… they do that so much better… etc.

And the answer that comes from people who work at the ECB is frequently the same:

The Australians can do that because they only have 6 states, not 18 counties!

If I had a penny for every different person I’d heard this from, I’d be as rich as… well… I’d have about 5p; but given the size of the ECB that’s actually quite a lot of people. And to be fair, they aren’t wrong – the structure in Australia is much more centralised and less conservative. From a “governance” perspective, it is just more manageable, and the folks at the ECB look on it with envy.

So if you think that one purpose of The 100 is anything other than an attempt to marginalise and eventually kill county cricket, then I’ve got a bridge to sell you… and some Men’s Tests!


2 thoughts on “OPINION: If You Think The 100 Will “Safeguard” County Cricket… I’ve Got Some Men’s Tests To Sell You

  1. I agree that the 100 is an attempt to marginalise the counties. I also understand that the ECB (the Board itself) is voted for by the counties and is therefore beholden to them. So basically the counties have voted for their demise.

    Perhaps they’re so ashamed at their financial failings that this is a form of suicide?


    • It depends who you listen to. The theory is that the shared income from a successful “100” will prop up the poorer counties (ie. the non Test match ground counties).

      My concern is everybody “for” the new tournament is blindly ignoring the – not indistinct – possibility of failure.

      There is a 5 year TV deal. Great. But does it have a break option for the BBC to pull out early if it flops? And what at the end of 5 years if they don’t renew?

      This “new audience”? Who are they? The research says it’s what they want. What research? Where’s the evidence? What if they don’t come? Because the vast majority of the evidence I see says the current audience won’t support it.

      Personally, I feel some sort of moral obligation to support whatever form of game the women end up playing. Not to do so would feel like a betrayal of everything that has gone before. We want women’s cricket to thrive, and if this is what we get how can we turn our backs on it?

      But, being a Worcs supporter, I have no affinity to “Birmingham” (or a Birmingham-based franchise). I can’t and won’t support a men’s team from a City/County I don’t attach myself to in a competition I have no faith in. Where does that leave me?

      Perhaps the doubts will be washed away on a tide of marketing, razzamatazz and momentum. And perhaps it will be as the proponents claim – jam for everyone.

      But I’m not sure what I fear most. That it succeeds, or that it fails…

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