Don’t Change the County Cricket Championship Structure.
Don’t Change the County Cricket Championship Structure.
Sunday afternoon, 7th. June, 2015, Durham v. Somerset, Day 1 at the Emirates International Cricket Ground and local BBC radio commentary again returns to the vexed issue of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) wishing to change the structure of the County Championship.
There had already been weeks of discussion on reported ECB proposals to reduce the number of Championship matches in a season. No commentators or those of the public who email and tweet seem to support any such change. To the Championship changers’ advantage, confusion is caused by confounding changes to the Championship with what could be done with the time released, to allow more white ball, particularly Twenty20, cricket to be played, perhaps by geographical “franchises” rather than by County Cricket Clubs.
If people wish to resist changes to the current Championship structure, then they need a clarity of purpose which will not confuse this with other ECB proposed changes. For effective resistance the message needs to be simple, which means it should be singular, so whatever else the ECB changes: Don’t change the current County Championship structure.
The Current County Championship Structure.
The structure of the County Championship refers only to how it is organised and not to how matches are played, such as the rules, number of overs, bonus points, etc. The current Championship structure has been around for quite some time and 2015 is the second year of a supposed three years of stability from significant changes of any sort (N.B. some changes have already been made, for example, to the intention to start all County Championship matches on a Sunday).
The current structure involves 18 teams in two divisions of 9 teams who each play the other teams in their division at home and away. Thus each team will play 16 matches in a season and there will be a total of 72 matches a season in each division.
If one wants to defend change, then it is this basic structure that preservation arguments should address. Keep:
· 18 teams in 2 divisions of 9 teams who play home and away within their division.
Let the ECB change other things, that still leaves them plenty of options, but ask them not to change the basic structure specified above.
Influencing the ECB
Could public pressure influence the ECB? With history on the side of the cynic, the obvious answers are “No.” and “Not at all!” On the other hand, just because something looks difficult shouldn’t stop one have a really good go at it.
In reply to a ‘Dr. Dan <>’ email, the commentators (Anthony Gibson and Martin Emmerson) at the Durham v. Somerset match suggested using Twitter or Facebook (although ‘Dr. Dan Diaper’ is not allowed a Facebook account – see his Social Media). Concerning Twitter, the commentators suggested that a hash tag was needed and cheekily “#ignoreus” was proposed, which works better on radio as “ignore us” than when written.
There are problems, however, with using Twitter as a change agent. Twitter is ephemeral, usually a temporary storm in a teacup, if not merely froth on a cappuccino. Re-tweets, favourites and the like may reflect social opinion, but they don’t have the authority of some form of petition which is signed by real, individual people.
A proposal to consider is an Open Letter to the ECB, which can be endorsed by many people. To maximise support, its message should be simple and singular, i.e. please don’t change the current County Championship structure of 18 teams in two divisions who, each season, in their division, play all the other teams both at home and away.
The ECB may well ignore a well supported open letter with such a message, but they, and everyone, would know exactly what they have rejected if they do change the basic Championship structure.
The ECB is not a democratic body in that it is not required to take account of public opinion, unlike the Counties, who are responsible to their members (the travails of Yorkshire CCC have been widely and thoroughly documented, with respect to Geoff Boycott’s captaincy, for example). Nor can the public ‘vote with their feet’ and boycott the ECB Championship product because the ECB is a sole supplier. Realistically, no one is going to say, “I won’t follow Championship cricket at all any more because the ECB has reduced the number of matches each team plays from sixteen to ten.”
Therefore, to influence the ECB, what is need is not merely a plea to preserve the current Championship structure, but clearly presented, well reasoned arguments to support this position. This is where it gets complicated.
The most common sort of comments to support the preservation position are along the lines of, “It’s fine at the moment.” and, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” These are not convincing arguments. Easy replies are, “It may be fine, but could be better.” and “Waiting for big things to break is too late to save them.” It may not quite come to collective character assassination, but those arguing against change can easily be portrayed as stuck-in-the-mud, old fuddy-duddies who are frighten of the modern world, and so on. To counter such, it will be necessary to be seen to accept, even encourage, some changes, while resisting others.
What is needed is a list of the advantages that would be lost if the current Championship structure is changed. An example of this was provided my Martin Emmerson of BBC Radio Newcastle on that June Sunday, that playing each other team in their division, both at home and away, provided balanced, equal opportunities within a season for each team to establish, fairly, its final position in the league. This desirable property would be lost if teams played some teams once and some twice. Any counter argument that such asymmetries would balance out over seasons is unsound given that teams are promoted and demoted each season so complete balance of opportunities, for all teams, is logically impossible (unless promotion/demotion only occurred over a two year cycle – surely even the ECB wouldn’t propose this?).
What are the other advantages? Like many simple looking questions, serious answers to it tend to be complicated. This is so, not because the game of cricket is complicated, although it is, but because the “Cricket System” is very large, composed of many things of many different types, and they interact, so changing one thing causes ripples of consequences to other things within the Criket_System. The ECB have committees and access to many cricket experts, from the self proclaimed to ex-players. Unfortunately, being a highly skilled cricket player is unlikely to be the best training for acquiring expertise at successful large general systems engineering.
If “we” wish to influence the ECB about not changing the current County Championship structure, then it is necessary to present to them rational arguments for such (limited) preservation. So, one thing needed is to identify the advantages of the current system. Answers on an e-postcard, please.
Strategy and Tactics
Dr. Dan <> has started the ball rolling and in the initial start-up period he is more than willing to coordinate the production and then endorsement of an open letter to the ECB.
· The first step must be publicity
… to make as many supporters as possible aware of the proposed plea to preserve the current County Championship structure. Get them to discuss it. Twitter might be particularly suitable for making people aware, but other means might be better for substantial proposals and discussions.
If people email Dr. Diaper firstname.lastname@example.org , then he will reply, collate, forward and put on his website www.dddsystems.co.uk people’s suggestions. Tweets to @DrDanDiaper (https://twitter.com/DrDanDiaper) will be followed, retweeted, etc.
Two initial tasks are:
(1) Identifying the advantages to the current Championship structure that would be lost if its basic structure is changed;
(2) Produce a draft of an open letter to the ECB.
The hope should be that, rapidly, it will be too much work for one retired X-Professor and that others, hopefully in close coordination, will take over some or all of the initial work.
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