Players Back Twenty20 In PCA Survey — 14/07/2003
The results of a Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) inspired player survey on the ECB Twenty20 Cup has revealed an overwhelmingly positive response for the new initiative. The survey canvassed opinion from PCA representatives and captains from the eighteen first class counties, along with a select number of players who form the Cricket Advisory Group.
A Positive Move
The players canvassed unanimously agree that the Twenty20 Cup competition has been both an enjoyable and positive move for cricket in this country. The players appreciate the success of the competition and this has been illustrated by the fantastic crowds that have attended the games. With the final at Trent Bridge already a sell out, the audience for the entire competition will have topped a whopping 255,000 people. This compares to the previous years total attendance for the Benson & Hedges Cup of around 104,000 spectators.
The player survey revealed that the guys in the middle loved the atmosphere of Twenty20, which in their opinion was better than the atmosphere for other county matches. While a few players decided it was too early to tell whether the Twenty20 Cup was detrimental to their techniques, the majority of the players surveyed felt it wasn’t. Jonty Rhodes, a stalwart of the South African one-day side for many years, and currently playing for Gloucestershire, went a step further when interviewed by cricnet.com stating,
"Twenty20 cricket presents a great opportunity for younger guys to come into an intense environment and understand how to play in a pressure situation. This is a great learning curve and will stand the guys in good stead if they go on to play for England."
Most of the players agreed that they weren’t ‘too rushed’ out on the field, and felt that the start/finish times worked well. Although the point was made that clubs were using the start/finish times to their advantage, with sides travelling hundreds of miles to and from fixtures on the same night to save on hotel bills. Being on the road for so long probably accounts for the players disagreeing with the feeling of ‘playing less cricket’ this summer with the advent of Twenty20.
There were some safety concerns from the players regarding the competition. The majority of the players were not so worried about people running onto the pitch to gain autographs as they were with the proximity of the crowd to the boundary edge. A number of players made notes at the bottom of the survey, in the space for additional comments, voicing their safety concerns for both the spectator and player alike. There was a feeling that ‘an accident was waiting to happen’ at some grounds, with the ball being crashed into the crowd with just seconds to take evasive action. Also there is the issue of players diving to prevent boundaries and colliding with members of the crowd, who may innocently be enjoying a glass of beer or eating their tea.
The survey also illustrated that players felt the floodlights used for the competition were ‘acceptable’. In domestic cricket, only six floodlights are used compared to eight in international cricket. The risk of injury remains the same.
The Fame Game!
An overwhelming majority of the players surveyed felt their profile within their own counties had increased. Essex all rounder Paul Grayson revealed,
“Our boys have never been recognised so much walking down the street in Chelmsford since the advent of Twenty20!”
If It Aint Broke…
Other comments of note came from Surrey’s Ian Ward who felt that the competition should be left alone for a year, and that the administrators should not be too hasty to change the format.
Ward’s teammate at Surrey Ian Salisbury, felt the penultimate stage of the competition could be made more exciting by having the draw for the semi-finals at a press conference, on the eve of the finals day itself. He reasoned that this would be in keeping with fast innovative style of the competition, and mean the sides would have to think on their feet about the opposition with just twelve hours to prepare game plans for the finals.
Here To Stay
The majority of the players surveyed felt that there wasn’t an increased chance of being injured playing Twenty20 cricket, and although they were split on whether this was the most enjoyable format of county cricket they had played, 95% percent of those surveyed were convinced that Twenty20 cricket was here to stay.