Our take from Gloucestershire CCC's annual press dayPosted on: 31 Mar 2022
Friday night lights shine focus on Gloucestershire’s future and 365Bristol have a chat with All-Rounder/T20 Captain, Jack Taylor.
Every four years English cricket is plunged into another Ashes induced crisis, and the year of 2022 took its turn in this chronological procession to host introspective navel-gazing but, to shake it up a little, the national team had just added a Caribbean debacle to the mix.
What this had to do with a chilly overcast March morning in Bristol isn’t abundantly clear. Gloucestershire CCC were hosting their annual press day, and as always pre-season optimism was high.
Another season of hope, with a new head coach, performance director and first team captain signalling a club keen to build on their recent progress. A first official season back in the top division of the red ball game, covid delayed by two years, and a young dynamic but crucially experienced white ball squad that is well-positioned to win one of the two competitions.
It’s a pre-season tradition played out in the other 17 county squads, it’s pretty much routine as the TV crew said, “not sure how we can make this any more interesting than the last 15 years “. Well, there is a very possible chance that they might in the future look back fondly on these days.
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Maybe as usual nothing will be done, but the four-yearly ‘things must be done’ cry emanating around the national teams’ inability to defeat Australia, brings focus on the county game.
Franchise cricket is predominant in the T20 leagues around the world. Gloucestershire’s Benny Howells is currently in the world-leading Indian Premier League, the success of which prompted the ECB (English cricket's governing body) who having created T20 cricket only to see it being surpassed by franchise leagues' launched an eight team city-based franchise competition called The Hundred.
Last year, five Gloucestershire players played in this competition but not for Gloucestershire. Instead, they appeared in Cardiff and Birmingham for whatever those teams were called and - as the county’s T-20 captain Jack Taylor said in the accompanying interview - “you always want to play against the best players”, so more will try and follow. It’s that argument that might ultimately have a bearing on county cricket as ‘Franchising’ the four-day game is being held up as a way of preventing yet another England batting collapse.
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It started pretty much as the last wicket fell in Australia: the idea of reducing the number of counties down to a more concentrated format and having "the best" play against "the best". This simplistic approach; which undoes 150 years of tradition, threatens the livelihoods of up to 40% of the current professional cricketers in this country and relies on the counties themselves to agree to vote themselves out of existence; is unlikely to succeed if convention prevails.
It is, however, one that might work if the money runs out. Each county receives £1.3m from the ECB for being a county, take that away and the domino effect will see the wishes of some being realised.
Head to 365Bristol's Soundcloud now to hear our interview with Gloucestershire All-Rounder/T20 Captain.
So, just in case, get down to the County Ground and watch this exciting squad take on the challenge of bringing silverware home. Bring your friends for Friday night lights in the T-20 and the after parties on Gloucester Road are worth preserving. Tickets can be found on the Gloucestershire County Cricket website and the club's YouTube Channel streams ball by ball all their away matches.
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David Cotton is the creator of One Sporting City a series of VIP hosted sports tournaments designed to raise money for good causes coming to Bristol in 2021: See www.onesportingcity.com for details of how your company can and should get involved.