The Guardian’s take on cricket’s dilemma: its long and short | editorial

IIt may be a little early to think of spring, but the publication of the first-class cricket matches indicates that it is not too far away. They were eagerly awaited this year than usual as the England men’s team implosion in the Ashes suggested something was rotten in the state of the domestic game. The publication was delayed as various interest groups argued over what structure the sport should have. Do we like our cricket in two and a half hours, made for TV blob, or played out slowly over four or five days?

That question was, of course, not resolved. The result, when the programs were finally announced this week, was the usual dog dinner. In deference to the new orthodoxy that long-form cricket has been marginalized, two four-day championship matches have been rescheduled for June and July, but half of the matches will be played in April and May, when conditions favor the county-style type. trundler. ” which is unlikely to turn an Ashes game upside down on a quiet Melbourne pitch. Neil Snowball, of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), said further rebalancing could be possible in 2023 if all “stakeholders” agreed. Please don’t joke about the chances of Mr. Snowball making that possible.

The ECB is trying to give four men’s competitions a packed summer: the championship; a cup of 50 left; the 20-over explosion; and his new invention, the Hundred, designed for fans who find 20-over cricket unnecessarily labyrinthine. The Hundred will take up most of August and means no championship cricket will be played in what used to be considered peak summer. It’s also played by franchises, with unappealing names like Northern Superchargers and Trent Rockets, rather than the traditional provinces, and the conundrum that few seem to tackle is that provinces and franchises just can’t coexist on the long-term. In the wake of the Ashes debacle, BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew argued that franchises should rule the roost but imagined the counties would continue in a lesser form, with no saying who would fund or bother with this subpar cricket. to watch. Even the would-be revolutionaries hesitate to kill the provinces.

Will the men’s game eventually have to follow the women’s game, now essentially franchise-based and dedicated to short-form cricket? While the Hundred was largely destructive to men’s cricket, requiring the red ball’s eyes to be removed, it was beneficial to the women’s game, giving it previously unprecedented amounts of TV time. Let’s hope the women turn out to be more competitive than the men in the current Ashes series. The ECB must stop pretending that the championship and the Hundred, provinces and franchises, can reconcile traditional and modern. The brutal truth is that one of the models has to go for the man game to have any consistency. A new cricketing structure is struggling to be born, and Gramsci (admittedly, no known cricket fan) was right that, in the gulf between the death of the old and the birth of the new, “morbid symptoms” appear. After all, you couldn’t get more morbid than that collapse of England on the third night of the Hobart Test.

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