The Mediocre Men: Graves & Harrison’s T20 Plans

Relative silence here doesn’t mean all is well with the cricket world. Far from it. The BCCI is trying everything it can to avoid implementing the Lodha Review despite being told by the Supreme Court to stop fannying around and bloody well do it. South Africa’s national team is now subject to the kind of government interference the ICC is supposed to be intolerant of. Pakistan still haven’t played a home test match in Christ knows how long and should not have been allowed to bring Mohammad Amir to the UK for their tour. Australia have been exposed as being bloody awful against spin and just given the kind of stuffing Yates would like to give Bonnie Langford. Andre Russell is allowed to play cricket despite allegedly missing three drug tests. And Giles Clarke is still president of the ECB.

All is definitely not well with the game.

Today is T20 Finals Day at Edgbaston. Yates has been a few times and generally enjoyed it. Memories include Mascot Races, Dominic Cork bottling it in a semi-final v Surrey, the smell of burning pork as the plastered brigade in the Hollies stand get barbecued by the beating sun, a trip round the Warwickshire museum reminding of youthful days and watching the badly burned wobbling around New Street Station trying to figure out if they’ve missed their trains home.

It’s generally a fun day at a ground that’s fairly easy to get to. Unlike certain grounds whose name sounds like a hospital receptacle one urinates in there are regular buses back to the city centre and said trip is also walkable if you’re so inclined and sober enough to navigate the crossings by the Bristol Road. It’s usually very well attended and the Edgbaston staff are well used to handling the folk who turn up.

Yates wishes the finalists in the T20 Blast all the best. It is not the T20 Blast which Yates has in his sights. It’s the ECB. Again. This time their plans for a City based T20 league.

These plans are motivated by envy and greed. The love of money. 1 Timothy 6:10 tells us that “the love of money the root of all evil”. Anyone who has seen the excellent Death Of A Gentleman will surely recognise this in the events that led to the “Big Three” carve up.

Just as a guy who cops sight of a gorgeous and unattainable woman, gets a massive case of the horn and does everything he can to satiate his lust for her, so Tom Harrison and Colin Graves have seen the lights, pizzazz and advertising opportunities gained by the IPL and BBL and want some of that for themselves. Just as the compulsive porn viewer fwapping into Kleenex obsessively ends up with a twisted view of sex and relationships so have Graves and Harrison got things arse about face here.

Let’s be practical – Australia and India are very large countries. They have large cricket stadiums – Indian stadia can pack in 30, 40 or even 50000. No cricket ground in England or Wales can manage that. Australia and India have generally reliable and predictable dry stretches where games can be scheduled. Is that true of England? Then what of ticket prices? If county membership won’t count for anything in terms of a discount then you’ll struggle for people coming to more games at £30 a ticket.

Don’t give me that crap about expanding the game into new areas. If it’s stuck on Sky where are the new viewers going to come from? It’s all about selling sponsorship and advertising space.

But they seem determined to push through a city based league idea. George Dobell (as ever) nails it in his piece.

Will the projected financial figures be published for public review? I doubt it very much considering there’s been talk of gagging clauses in the initial discussions between the ECB and counties. Screw transparency seems to be the modus operandi here.

There will need to be teams created, brands designed and publicised and a financial governance model developed. Which teams will be created? Each T20 league needs at least one team with a daft name. Mumbai Indians (hardly going to be Mumbai Saffers or Mumbai Geordies now is it?), Guyana Amazon Warriors (without a single Amazon warrior in the team). Romford Faketans came to mind but Romford isn’t city sized.

If it needs to be something with good sponsorship potential, how about Birmingham Brummies? Sponsored by one of the biggest names ever to come out of Birmingham.

No, not Cadburys. Bigger than Cadburys and massively iconic.

Black Sabbath.

With Tony Iommi as a team co-owner.

How awesome would it be to see Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott walk out to open the innings accompanied by the doom laden intro to Black Sabbath? Or if you want something a little more crowd friendly we could go with War Pigs (Yates was at both nights of that Reunion tour in Brum and it was amazing). Sabbath logos on Birmingham shirts, Goth cheerleaders, every 6 greeted with the “Oh Lord Yeah!” from War Pigs, every decision going against a Birmingham player greeted with “You b******s!” from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

Birmingham and West Midlands folk love their heavy metal so the engagement and synergy would be massive. And the chance of another reunion concert, this time at Edgbaston some time in 2018.

There’s been mention on Twitter over the years of a South London franchise called the South London Visigoths. In the post-Brexit country we are now in, how many people (beyond the Star Trek:TNG reference) know (or admit to knowing) what the hell a Visigoth is? Would Visigoths be welcome in post-Brexit England?

If we’re going to go with something folk will recognise and which has easy branding then how about the South London Confederates? The whole Dukes Of Hazzard thing is a readymade image. General Lee cars driving around, guys in lumberjack shirts, cheerleaders dressed as Daisy Duke, cries of “Yee-haaaa!” for every 6 hit, umpires dressed as Boss Hogg and soundbites of James Best’s Roscoe P Coltrane for every wicket falling. So much merchandising around this brand, like this example (thanks to @Look_In_Mag for the pic), the potential for products is huge.

If we’re ok with KSL team Western Storm calling their fans “Stormtroopers” then there shouldn’t be much complaining about South London Confederates. England Womens’ Captain Heather Knight has said if anyone comes to a KSL game the Storm are playing dressed as a Stormtrooper she will be impressed and come to meet them.

When Yates thinks of Stormtroopers it isn’t the white clad Imperial crap shots that come to mind. More the brown shit clad members of Hitler’s SA. The original Stormtroopers. With the current climate in world politics, the asshattery of Donald Trump and the resurgence of anti-immigrant racism post-Brexit, it really doesn’t seem smart to invoke the Stormtrooper name right now.

Seriously, if a few folk decide to turn up to a Storm game dressed as Ernst Rohm and his associates (Yates is informed that there are places online where one can acquire accurate uniforms of that era) would the England captain really pose for photos with them?

Colin Graves has made no secret of his belief that the T20 Blast is “mediocre”. The same could be said of his term at the ECB thus far, and also of Tom Harrison’s tenure.   Were they a tag team they would surely be The Mediocre Men. With their current performances why should anyone believe any claims they make? Damn sure Yates wouldn’t believe anything claimed by any companies they employ to assess and promote this scheme.

The T20 Blast final will be between Northants and Durham. Not the teams Graves and Harrison would like to have seen competing for the trophy.