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Posts Tagged ‘P20’

The ECB has, somewhat out of character, done something that makes sense and decided that having two county Twenty20 competitions might be a little over the top, scrapping the proposed ‘P20’ league format (which was itself an alternative to the ‘EPL’ city-franchise-based competition which was previously favoured by some) in favour of expanding the existing Twenty20 Cup.

There would have been considerable foolhardiness in persisting with two twenty-over competitions in the face of waning support from the counties (which predictably faded further after it became apparent that there wasn’t as much money to be made as had previously been thought) and a general feeling that the format is reaching saturation point. According to the BBC, the expanded competition will span the whole season with most matches played on Thursdays, Fridays and at weekends, which also makes sense. In fact, the whole thing is so plausible and seemingly well-thought-out that it’s a little disconcerting.

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Just as Twenty20 cricket seems to be taking over, with the IPL looking to expand, Gayle’s recent comments and the upcoming World Twenty20, there are whispers that the tournament that started it all, the Twenty20 Cup in England and Wales, is struggling to attract fans.

Advance ticket sales are reportedly down by as much as 40% on last year, and a number of theories are being advanced in explanation. One is that the novelty of Twenty20 is no longer enough to attract spectators who have experienced the glitz and glamour of the IPL, another that the early start to the international season and the prospect of a busy summer with the World Twenty20 and the Ashes on the way (plus the involvement of English players in the IPL) has overshadowed the county game for UK cricket fans.

It could be that casual fans who flocked to matches in the past are cutting back on their cricket watching during the current recession, or even that the novelty of Twenty20 as a format has worn off following the overkill of the last few years. The prospect of the latter may worry the ECB, who are planning a second Twenty20 competition from next year – the P20.

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Way back in April, when the Indian Premier League was hogging all the cricketing headlines and ‘recession‘ was something Shane Warne wanted to avoid happening to his hairline, the ECB were drafting plans for an English (and Welsh) version of the IPL.

The new structure of the county season from 2010 onwards was announced in July with two 10-team divisions including ‘guest’ overseas teams. Those plans have now been radically scaled back, partly due to the global economic situation and partly due to a seeming lack of interest.

The new model is to be called, apparently, P20 rather than the EPL, to avoid confusion with (and legal action from) the footballing equivalent. It will be interesting to watch over the next few months to what degree other plans around the world for copycat IPL-style competitions will be similarly put on hold.

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