2004 Cricket Season Welcomes Back Large Crowds And The Twenty20 Cup - 19/04/2004
Cricket’s 2004 season will begin in earnest tomorrow with the first round of Frizzell County Championship matches starting on Friday 16th April. With increased County attendances in 2003 and an expanded international season, large numbers of people are again expected to flock to cricket grounds this summer.
Summer Of Cricket
County Cricket will boast some of the world’s best players for a season in which 389 matches and 819 scheduled days of cricket will be played across four competitions. Shane Warne returns for a second spell with Hampshire, Ricky Ponting will represent Somerset, Shoaib Akhtar will play for Durham and Lance Klusener for Middlesex.
It is anticipated that attendance levels at County matches, which rose by over 22% in 2003, are again expected to be strong. Hospitality sales, an indicator of general interest in forthcoming matches, have been healthy, in particular for the Twenty20 Cup which has attracted many corporate clients. Many Counties have already sold out their hospitality space for the competition, which has also attracted significant advanced public ticket sales.
Structurally, this season remains similar to last year. The only major change is seen within the Twenty20 Cup, starting on Friday 2nd July, for which a quarter final stage has been introduced. The top two teams in each of the three regional groups, plus the two best third placed teams, will progress to the quarter finals, which will be played on 19th July.
Other key features for cricket’s newest competition are Derby Day on Friday 9th July
— when five of the country’s major derby matches will take place on the same night and a first ever Twenty20 Cup match at Lord’s, the London Derby between Middlesex and Surrey on Thursday 15th July.
The totesport League (formerly The National Cricket League) begins on Sunday 25th April, while the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy resumes with Round Two on 5th May.
The international season sees England play New Zealand and West Indies over three and four match npower Test Match Series respectively, as well as The NatWest Series. India also play England in The NatWest Challenge three match one-day international series before the ECB welcomes the world’s major cricket nations for the ICC Champions Trophy in September.
The women’s season will witness the first ever international Twenty20 match when England take on World Champions, New Zealand, in the NatWest International Women’s Twenty20 at Hove on Thursday 5th August.
Clare Connor will lead the England women as they play New Zealand in the five match NatWest Women’s Series which begins in Hove on Friday 6th August and ends at Old Trafford on 17th August, plus one npower Women’s Test Match at Scarborough from 22th to 25th August. The NatWest Women’s Series will be England’s last before The Women’s World Cup in South Africa in March, 2005.
The women’s domestic season will see an all new Super Fours competition, now in its third year. The ECB has introduced coloured clothing and a Twenty20 round of matches to increase the link between Super Fours and the women’s international arena. The 48 best women cricketers in the country have been divided into four teams and will compete against each other in six one-day matches ahead of the international season. Super Fours will run each weekend from Saturday 17th May to Sunday 15th June.
Sussex Defend Crown
Sussex will defend the Frizzell Women’s County Championship with the winners facing the tourists in a Twenty20 game at Fenner’s following the Championship in Cambridge from 24th-28th July.
Ticket Sales Strong
Ticket sales for international cricket this summer have been strong. The Brit Oval has sold out the Friday and Saturday of its npower Test Match in August as well as its NatWest Challenge match against India in September; Lord’s has currently sold out its NatWest Series matches, its NatWest Challenge game and for the first three days of both its npower Test Matches; Trent Bridge sold out its NatWest Series match involving England and the West Indies before Christmas; Edgbaston, meanwhile, sold out its ICC Champions Trophy match between India and Pakistan within one hour.
Winners In 2003
Frizzell County Championship Division One - Sussex
Frizzell County Championship Division Two - Worcestershire
National Cricket League Division One - Surrey Lions
National Cricket League Division Two - Lancashire Lightening
Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy - Gloucestershire
Twenty20 Cup - Surrey Lions
Frizzell Women's County Championship - Sussex
Super Fours - The Knight Riders
For further information contact ECB Corporate Affairs on 020 7432 1200