There are very few good things to come out of the credit crunch but here’s one: the scaling down of the ECB’s rival to the IPL, the EPL.
Gone are the two overseas teams, with the ECB blaming it on the recession and Yosemite Stanford’s sudden allergic reaction to cricket. According to a report in The Times, it will feature only the 18 counties, each with four overseas players, and two leagues with relegation/promotion.
So not much of a scaling down, just a trim. What started off as the most bloated, hideous and misjudged idea since Mr Creosote ate a wafer-thin mint is now just a very bad idea. But it’s the ECB’s idea, so little surprise there. It’s received very little media attention, which must please Giles Clarke to bits, because the whole thing really needs further scrutinising.
There are still too many teams for it to be called ‘premier’; there still aren’t 72 box-office stars to enable all 18 counties to fill their four overseas slots with crowd-pulling quality players (which probably means Dwayne Leverock should be waiting by the phone); still no one wants to watch Leicestershire v Northamptonshire. It’s a non-starter.
The ECB should either make it properly premier by halving the number of teams or abandon it altogether and leave the current Twenty20 Cup format alone – it’s worked wonders so there’s no need to tinker. Instead, the ECB has gone Hollywood and started indiscriminately jabbing it with Botox to hold on to its youth. As always, the scarring is all too visible.