Cricket Thoughts: Scheduling

There are plenty of discussions going on about the state of the game and in particular the scheduling of games during the cricket season. Legside Lizzy and George Dobell are two whose thoughts are well worth reading.

Yates has heard a fair few people say that the schedule is crazy and needs to be streamlined and is not unsympathetic to both sides of the discussion.  If you’ve tried to schedule something involving groups of people you will know that it is nigh on impossible to please everyone and that someone somewhere will always have a whinge and a bitch.

As a returning spectator this season here are a few things that have struck me during my visits to the Kia Oval.

Let’s start off with a few essential facts (in no set order) then a few suggestions which would help matters:

  • Cricket needs to get more people through the gates
  • All is not well with cricket’s finances, crowds are down at the money spinning T20 games
  • Players feel they are playing too much cricket
  • It looks to me that there is too much travelling done
  • A regular schedule may well help players switch into different modes for different competitions
  • A regular schedule may well help spectators and get them to bring youngsters to more games

The fixture list needs a sense of routine.  It would be nice to know, for example, that Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays were T20 or CB40 games.  That way allows parents to take their kids to those games without affecting their getting ready for school routines. Reposition, rebrand and really promote these games as family events.  There is no need to try any of the gimmicks involving scantily clad women.  Cricket doesn’t need that.  If Yates wants to see tits on the telly all he needs to do is turn on Premier League Darts.

Would there be any benefit to the idea of having women’s T20 games being held before the mens games?  The brute power of the mens game might not be present in the womens game but the execution and commitment in the women’s game is excellent.  That would help raise the profile of the women’s game and could well get more people coming along to watch both games.  Women’s T20 games don’t get much of a mention anywhere on fixture lists yet England Ladies are very successful at international T20 level.  There is an opportunity being missed here.

The South and North divisions of the FLT20 should stay meaning more local derby type games.  The current situation of having a glut of T20 games in a small window isn’t ideal.  Having them on and around weekends throughout the season would surely be better.  Things crammed in to tight windows often fail in being of the best quality.  Looking at it from a spectator’s point of view, having the games spread out over a longer period would make them more affordable.

If you’re paying £20 or £25 a game for 6 t20 games then you’re looking £120 or £150. Plus extras like travel, food and drink, souvenirs et cetera.  £120 to £150 spent in a month plus extras on cricket may well stretch the bank.  If there’s two adults and children as well then double it and add a bit.  If the T20 games were spaced out more that would be easier on the finances.  If it’s easier on the finances then more people are likely to attend.

If you’re going to spend that sort of money on tickets then perhaps you should consider getting a full membership at a county.  Standard membership at Surrey this year was £165 and covers all County Championship, CB40 and pre-quarter final T20 games. If you do the T20 home games and a couple of CB40 games and that’s your membership covered.  If you have an adult membership then you can get a junior membership for an under-17 family member for free.  Prices may differ for other counties – it’s a good idea to look into memberships and do the maths.

Get more people coming in and you are likely to get more sales of merchandise, food, drink, programmes and the like.  The fish and chips at the Kia Oval has been excellent, far better than when we were at Lord’s.  It is things like this that can make a difference, especially if you’ve got a youngster with you.  They remember things like that because it matters to them.  Make the added value stuff good and it will help retain the customers.  Mini Surrey Fan loves going to the Kia Oval.  He wasn’t impressed with Lord’s.  Neither were Yates and Rowan to be honest.

Yates loathes travelling by coach, so feels for cricketers who have to endure travelling long distances by coach for games that are rained off or never get started because of the rain.  Yates also feels for the poor journalists and broadcasters who travel similar distances and spend time away from their families.  Then there are the away supporters, many of whom have to endure rotten public transport to get to games.  Surely it can’t be an impossible logistical exercise to plan out a more streamlined, travel friendly schedule?  Especially in these times of financial hardship and looking to minimise carbon footprints.  We would all benefit from that.

A more sensible schedule it would surely help the players and then we would get a better idea of just how much of too cricket is being played.  Travelling takes it out of people; the less players have to do the more time and energy they will have to practice, recover, et cetera.

Yates isn’t saying he has all the answers but there are things being missed that could improve the lot for players and spectators.  We may never get things absolutely perfect but we can and should try to get things better.  For the players and spectators.

And yes, I am deeply disappointed and annoyed at Surrey’s exit from the FLT20.