It is not quite a Packer moment, but it is a significant danger.

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By Creative Media News

Richard Thompson, the new chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, hopes to rejoin Jos Buttler’s T20 World Cup-winning team for a homecoming celebration, but the international calendar is as jam-packed as the M5 on a bank holiday weekend, making the question of when a difficult one.

The ephemeral afterglow of the victory in Melbourne 12 days ago encapsulated the difficulty, with those players not rejoining the Pakistan tour left to play (and lose) three ODIs against a stinging Australian team. As was typical following England’s 50-over triumph in 2019, the victors barely had time to take paracetamol before their next task.

It is not quite a packer moment, but it is a significant danger.
It is not quite a packer moment, but it is a significant danger.

Thompson scoffs at Steve Harmison’s BT Sport assessment that the series was “meaningless cricket played in a meaningless manner.” As well as Buttler’s scathing opinion that it was an “excellent illustration” of how not to maintain bilateral cricket’s relevance.

“I feel for the players,” adds Thompson, who has been in charge of English cricket for over three months. “We’re eager to celebrate being the first men’s team to hold both trophies, but it’s difficult to get all the players together. These times are so fleeting.

Relevance is everything, and that ODI series was the first indication of the difficulty of an annual World Cup – T20 or 50-over – followed by bilateral cricket. It was out of Australia’s normal rhythm and a bit of a wake-up call. But this is a reality for the ICC.”

But its a real risk
It is not quite a packer moment, but it is a significant danger.

In response to the present environment, players are beginning to abandon forms, like Ben Stokes’ retirement from 50-over cricket and Will Smeed’s retirement from first-class cricket at the age of 21 without ever having played it.

“This is not quite a Kerry Packer moment, but we must acknowledge it. We cannot cultivate players under the age of nine and then watch them fly away. We must safeguard our talent and keep it on the path.

Players should never be required to sign three T20 contracts and forfeit their central contract. This will necessitate financing and some thought. It poses a significant threat to the game.”

Thompson is keen on capitalizing on the success of the national teams, and this week the ECB announced a renewed initiative in partnership with Chance 2 Shine and the Lord’s Taverners to get cricket into 300 more schools where at least 40% of the students qualify for free school meals, as well as 200 additional schools for young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities.

Thompson states, “We are acutely aware that it is a postcode lottery.” “Having access to cricket depends on where you reside, which does not sit well with me.”

Thompson was pleased that Sky and Channel 4 shared the men’s T20 World Cup final, which had a combined peak audience of over four million viewers.

This number could also have additional repercussions. While the previous ECB administration extended the Sky contract through the end of 2028, a terrestrial partner for international highlights, digital clips, and Hundred games after 2024 has not yet been determined.

This time, there is a wide range of interest, according to Thompson. “Specifically the radio rights. But you must also consider the broadcaster’s non-monetary contributions. Consider the 30-second “sizzlers” for the Hundred in the men’s Wimbledon final. The media value of this is £330k.

The commercial value of the BBC’s digital channels, radio, and broadcasting is enormous. Nothing sells more rights than a World Cup victory on ITV, Channel 4, or Channel 5.”

Numerous opponents of the competition had hoped that Thompson’s arrival, together with that of another former skeptic at Surrey, the incoming chief executive Richard Gould, would result in the competition’s cancellation.

Both men will be champions of county cricket, particularly the T20 Blast, for which they fought in their prior positions, but the fourth tournament will remain.

When asked about his Damascene moment, Thompson simply replies, “Alice Capsey,” the former Oval Invincibles sensation who is now a member of the England women’s team. “For me, it has been the sheer success of the women’s game and seeing a different audience,” he adds. That must be a positive development.

“I wouldn’t have accepted the invitation to be a chair, and [Gould] wouldn’t have applied for the position of chief executive, if I hadn’t recognized the significance of the Hundred.

We both called it out in 2018, stating that it would have a significant influence on the schedule and potentially cannibalize other events; we will now prevent this from happening.

“We did not anticipate the success of women’s basketball. The double headers occurred coincidentally. However, it is a costly tournament to run; we must consider this. However, it functions and is only two years old.

We must also protect and promote the Blast: Sam Curran, perhaps the best batsman in the world at the moment, developed his skill playing it, and we are the current Twenty20 world champions.

And the renewal of Gould’s partnership? I and Richard are the custodian. It is not our concern. This is not the egocentric attitude that existed previously. Cricket is a national asset with enormous responsibilities.

There are many things we would have done differently in the past, but the organization is extraordinarily resilient.

No sport dealt with Covid better than cricket, using bio bubbles and maintaining broadcast money.” It was remarkable. We must regain a sense of working together and restore trust, and we are capable of doing so.”

A collegiate approach is required, as the ECB’s high-performance review is still being discussed in the shires and a proposal to reduce the number of County Championship matches each side to 10 every summer was received with significant opposition.

With England’s men have won two world titles and six of their past seven Tests, is the need for a radical revamp overstated?

Thompson answers, “I don’t think so.” “In speaking with players, the PCA, and directors of cricket, [these results] do not negate the realities of player tiredness and the problems associated with their distribution between formats. Continue as is, and you will only hasten players’ selection of a format. We need a middle ground.

“We have till the beginning of the following season; teams must know what they’re playing for. The depth of feeling has astonished many individuals. Cricket enthusiasts, supporters, and members were anxious before seeing anything.

“The Hundred has added to the strain – people think that removing it will make the summer more enjoyable. But we can’t do that since it’s been sold until 2028, and we’re already two years in. I was first opposed, but I now see the benefit.”

Are memberships in counties impeding progress? “Would I prefer 18 football-loving oligarchs or member-owned organizations? Supporters are expressing their opinions, indicating that cricket is the most democratic sport.

However, it is difficult to strike a balance between a high-performing England men’s squad and a dynamic local product.

However, Test cricket and red-ball cricket are in my genes; if we as a nation do not support it, we cannot expect others to.” We will always ensure that the Future Tours Programme safeguards it, as it is the pinnacle of the sport.

During his five years in office, Thompson will face challenges that go beyond preventing men’s cricket from eating itself and promoting the professional women’s game.

Regarding the latter, he believes the 2026 Women’s T20 World Cup is an opportunity to generate “a national moment” and cites this summer’s footballing Lionesses as a model.

However, a greater existential threat exists. In addition to the long-running issue of Yorkshire and the postponed CDC racism hearings, the ECB is still implementing its 12-point diversity action plan across the sport and preparing for the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket’s report next year.

Thompson acknowledges that the latter will make for “uncomfortable reading,” but he is adamant that the game thoroughly examines its results and finds good solutions.

“It will be a momentous occasion. People who have been affected must be heard and included in the solution so that future generations do not have to go through what they have.

Unless there is a sense of truth and reconciliation, and most importantly, if people learn from their mistakes, history will continue to repeat itself.

This document will provide a wealth of information indicating where we should concentrate our efforts in the future.

In addition, with the 12-point EDI plan and the dressing room culture evaluation, every stakeholder in all 41 [first-class and national] counties must be included. One is only as powerful as his or her weakest connection.

As is typical at the beginning of an English cricket inning, a lot is going on.

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