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!