At a lunch time function with music, and waiters and waitresses in fancy dress, the England and Wales Cricket Board announced the new Twenty20 Cup, a new 20 over competition for the domestic game.
“This is the most revolutionary move in domestic English cricket for 40 years since the introduction of the Gillette Cup,” said ECB chief executive Tim Lamb.
The competition, which starts on 13 June, is designed to bring the game to a wider audience, and specifically to appeal to young people, women and families, the groups that market research has proved are currently least interested in attending cricket matches in England. Research has proved that the majority of cricket crowds are made up of middle-aged, middle-class, white males.
The games will be 20 overs per side, and will start at 5.30 and end at 8.15 pm. The games will be played at a fast pace, and batsmen will be encouraged to jog to the crease, being allowed only 90 seconds between wickets.
The emphasis is, however, on providing more fun and better value for money for the fans. There will be barbeque zones and beer tents at the grounds. There will also be music, face painting and karaoke, and fancy dress will be positively encouraged.
Players on the field will have microphones attached to them so that they can have dialogue with the commentators in the commentary box, though there will obviously be teething problems early on about foul language. Batsmen will also be interviewed briefly in a dugout just before they go in, and after they out, if they are willing!
People in fancy dress have become a feature of cricket crowds and this is going to be encouraged. Glamorgan have announced that one of their games will be designated a pyjama party, while at Hampshire’s ground part of a stand will be converted into a living room so that some lucky fans can watch the game from the comfort of sofas.
“It’s going to bring some exciting new techniques and tactics to the game,” says Adam Hollioake of Surrey.
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