Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Number 1 but who saw it?

It is a fantastic achievement for the England cricket team to be crowned as the world's best Test playing nation. Some question marks remain over the side's ability to win consistently on the Subcontinent but let that not detract from what has been a glorious summer of great individual performances and consistently high achievement for the team. To whitewash the top team, India, over four matches and to capture their crown demonstrated the fact that England are the real deal and deserve all the plaudits they are getting at the moment.

The only problem with England's moment of glory is the question of how many people, and young people in particular, actually got to watch England's triumph? Since the suits who run English cricket sold the game's soul to Sky several years ago, most of us have had to satisfy ourselves with odd snatches of action in brief highlights packages in the evening. At the moment the highlights are consigned to Channel 5, a station you couldn't even receive in large swathes of the country until the digital switch over. Gone are the days when the nation's sports fans could gather round their T.V.s on an afternoon to celebrate an Ashes victory. Now the great game played over five days (that's the idea even if India seem to have forgotten) is reduced to three minute news packages and 45 minutes on the Big Brother channel.

I will be interested to see what the viewing figures are for this summer's Test matches. That will be of little concern to the money men at English cricket's HQ as they bank the subscription T.V. dosh. But how many youngsters will be heading into the garden or down to the local park to emulate their cricketing heroes if they never get to watch them play? Who will be inspired to become the next Cook, Prior or Anderson? It is one thing to put some money back into the grass roots game for those already in local clubs. It is a much greater challenge to attract potentially gifted future cricketers if they have never seen and grown to love the game in the first place.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Ray Barnes said...

While I certainly cannot make any claims about being young, I must agree with you on every single point.
The great sell-out was a sad day indeed for those of us who love the game, and who, like you, can only watch the selected highlights on 5.
England's heroic win was probably seen by only a quarter of the numbers who would have watched every minute 3 or 4 years ago.
So much time on TV and even News programmes is given to the so-called beautiful game of football that cricket is being side-lined, yet our players are going from strength to strength.
Despite the valiant efforts of Dravid and Tendulkar India was no match for England in its present form.
If you want to start a protest about the poor coverage I'll happily do my best to rally some support.

Philip Ritchie said...

Thanks Ray, a few of us try from time to time to raise this issue but to no avail. Why England Test matches were not retained as part of the 'crown jewels' of sport I'll never know. The ECB saw the chance after the Ashes win in 2005 to make a quick buck and they went for it with no thought to the wider impact on the game. A bunch of suits who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing as the Stanford fiasco proved. I blogged about that whole grubby episode here: