English cricket set to miss out on important summer?
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Every summer is important in the world of cricket, but some are bigger than others. That is certainly the case for this summer, a time when English cricket should have been rejoicing and taking advantage of the big events that happened in 2019.
We saw an excellent summer of cricket in 2019, with England winning one of the most dramatic matches ever played to lift the World Cup at Lords. That was followed by a gripping Ashes series where Ben Stokes came to the fore and played one of the greatest innings ever seen on these shores to give England a vital win at Headingley.
That improved the visibility of cricket a lot, the World Cup final was on terrestrial TV, and things appeared to be on the up. However, just when the momentum of that was set to transform into ticket and merchandise sales this summer, the Coronavirus pandemic put a halt to the majority of sporting events.
No cricket has been played in England so far this summer, none is scheduled until at least July and if the sport does return, no fans will be allowed in attendance. Does this mean England will miss out on one of their most important cricketing summers for a long time?
County game needing a spark
County cricket has needed a spark for a long time. Last summer we saw 50 over cricket and test cricket show what was possible and this year, counties will have been hoping to ride on the back of that and see a few more people through the gates.
It seems unlikely that there will be a County Championship at all this summer, this is certainly not a game that can be played without fans in attendance due to no TV deal in place other than the odd game.
The Twenty20 competition has been delayed and clubs will be hoping this can take place towards the end of the summer. However, it seems almost certain that no fans will be allowed into the grounds.
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This is a competition with TV coverage, but with no ticket sales this is likely to be a very watered down version. Many counties have cancelled the contracts of their overseas players already, so if the tournament happens in some form, it will be contracted UK based players only taking part.
The Hundred delayed until 2021
The Hundred caused a lot of controversy when it was launched in 2019. Whichever side of the fence you sit on regarding the competition, you must agree that the summer of 2019 was the perfect platform for this new tournament to build on.
There is also a big drive around women’s sport at the moment, and The Hundred was going to give women’s cricket a place to shine, which would have seen it receive big media attention because of that.
TV deals were in place, plenty of media coverage was sat waiting to follow the competition, but things have now been delayed until the summer of 2021.
This means it will be two years on from the famous England World Cup win at Lords, so it may have slipped from the minds of casual sports fans. Will they remember the scenes and love for cricket they saw, and go to buy tickets for this competition in 2021? Let’s hope they do, but it is nowhere near as certain as it would have been with a 2020 start date.
Of all the different elements of cricket that are going to miss out this summer, The Hundred could be the one that feels this the most as a brand-new tournament.
International cricket on TV but no fans?
International cricket is the top of the game, and if something does happen this summer it is likely to be international games of some description. There has already been talks surrounding cricket behind closed doors, with players having to quarantine themselves for nine weeks before they can play.
This all seems a little extreme, but if that is the only way to see cricket in England this summer, there will surely be some top players prepared to do that so they can represent England. Ideas include having a big 30-man squad together to play all different formats of the game, sticking with each other and not going home, so they can play games at the end of the summer.
The big benefit that test cricket has is the TV coverage. Every single game that England plays is on TV, and that money helps to pay for the central contracts of those who are contracted to play for England. Although the ECB will miss out on a lot of money due to no ticket sales, and we all know how expensive cricket can be, there is a path forward thanks to TV money.
What is in store for fans?
You can’t help but feel this is a missed opportunity for the sport, although it is one that they cannot do anything about. Ticket sales, merchandise and the general buzz surrounding 2019 will all be gone by the time fans can attend games.
Should we see cricket this summer on TV, then you can expect a lot of anticipation, although it won’t be the same as being in the ground. There will be plenty watching and betting on the games, that is for sure, and that will be better than nothing.
Bookmakers would love to see international cricket return, and if the Twenty20 competition comes back later in the summer then that will be even better. Bookmakers such as those listed on The Bookies Offers will no doubt have a number of welcome offers ready for new players to use if cricket gets the green light to return.
As things stand right now, optimism remains that we will be able to watch and bet on cricket this summer, although not head to the ground like we would all love to. The summer of 2019 was special, the summer of 2020 will not be the same, hopefully those magical moments in 2019 can remain alive in the future when we all return to our favourite ground.