Club Cricket Conference

Wednesday, 22nd May 2024

To blame: 'Attritional games and fewer local derbies'

By Charles Randall

16 December 2014 

The elite restructuring carried out by the ECB for two decades through the premier league network has led to boring and attritional cricket and fewer local matches that in the past stimulated interest.

That is the view of the former cricket administrator and Minor Counties batsman Alan Burridge in a post on the Club Cricket Conference website forum, responding to the question of dwindling playing numbers in the recreational game.

The website topic suggested 40 overs could be introduced at all levels below the elite league divisions to make the game more time friendly. Burridge agreed that the shorter limited overs format would solve the time problem, but added that it would lead to the end of 'tactical input' from captains.

Burridge's main comments touched on the creaking premier league system. The wider geographical spread of matches has been a problem perhaps underestimated in the ECB's drive to improve standards. Evidence of this emerged when Hertfordshire split away from the sprawling Home Counties League for the 2014 season after a survey in Hertfordshire indicated disillusionment among players. At this point the question could be asked whether the East Anglian Premier League has paid too high a price in travel time. And perhaps other league combinations extending beyond county boundaries.

Burridge, a fine Durham and Hertfordshire left-hander in the 1970s, focused on the north when he said: “On a recent visit to a Durham CCC former players reunion, former playing colleagues, who are currently now administrators of cricket in the North East, were strongly of the opinion that the elite restructuring had led to long journeys to matches, long days of 'boring and attritional cricket' and most importantly the death of local derbies, which formerly attracted good crowds and local interest.”

He added: “I'm glad I played when I did, for despite the sterling efforts of the CCC, there seems to be an absence of enjoyment in the modern game in its present form, and evidence from 'up north' highlights the loss of local derbies as just one of the reasons, among many others, for the declining numbers.”

The ECB announced in November they were seeking answers after their survey and computer modelling estimated that playing numbers in England and Wales had fallen.