We could do with a Campaign for Real Cricket

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The St Lawrence Ground in Canterbury (stock image)

Writing in The Spectator magazine recently, the author Geoffrey Wheatcroft suggested that he would like to see a Campaign for Real Cricket launched.

It should approximate the Campaign for Real Ale, said Wheatcroft who bemoaned the fact that there is only one Middlesex County Championship match at Lord’s over the course of June and July.

So what should it do? How should it campaign for “real cricket”? Well, it might like to start by taking a look at the results of Kent since the start of the season.

Of special note, as anyone who follows the county circuit closely knows, is the performance of Kiwi quick Matt Henry, who has adapted superbly to English conditions.

The 26-year-old’s 37 wickets at an average of 9.69 have propelled Kent to second in Division 2 with three wins out of four.

Kent’s Matt Henry has 37 wicket so far

But the reality is that outside the diehard county aficionados and club supporters, few will be aware of them.

And for that we should probably blame both the broadcaster Sky and the ECB.

In truth, however, one deserves more opprobrium than the other.

Sky, after all, is doing what it is supposed to do: make money. Thus at the moment, it broadcasts live matches and repeats of the IPL. The first county broadcast is a Royal London match today – more than a month since the start of the season.

The ECB, on the other hand, is the guardian of our national summer sport.

But instead of celebrating the county game, it seeks ways to undermine it at every turn. The hollowing out of the county season to make way for T2o has been followed by The 100, possibly the most egregious idea in cricket since super subs.

What administrators could do instead of this gimmicky ploy to tempt children and women into cricket grounds by making matches 40 balls shorter than T20 is remind people that the true form of the game is First Class cricket.

All other forms of it are simply deviations. They may have their place in today’s world, but they cannot replace that which is most noble and pure.

That is what a Campaign for Real Cricket should do. Now, where do I sign up?

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