There's a World T20 starting, really?
In a couple of weeks time the World T20 competition will begin in India. If we finish in the top two in our group, we'll qualify for the semi finals, which would leave us just two wins away from reclaiming the crown we last won in 2010. But the thing is, do you have any idea who is actually in our group?! I asked people in the pub yesterday, no one knew! "Didn't know it was happening!"
The ICC, together with respective country cricket boards, often gets criticised, sometimes quite rightly, and on a number of occasions, unfairly so. I've always prided myself on trying to give a balanced and fair view when it comes to the ICC. But this forthcoming World T20 competition is an embarrassment and surely one of the most poorly organised events in world sport.
For starters, where is the publicity?
This is a global showpiece event for the ICC, but there's hardly any publicity! Where is the promotion? Where is the anticipation? Where's the competition news? Last week for example, it was announced that Steven Finn, England's main strike bowler will miss the tournament. This should be big news in England. If Wayne Rooney or Joe Hart was to miss the European Championships it'd be back page news, I think poor Finny's injury got a few lines if anything in the media. How can we get people back in love with cricket if we don't advertise or promote the product? This particular example isn't the ICC's fault in term of its the English media, but if the ICC don't wish to promote the tournament, why would the media be interested. I'll ask it again, how many of you know who is actually in England's group (unless you've read Tractor's blog before this one!)??
And then there's the whole shambolic organisation of the tournament itself. Imagine the criticism FIFA, UEFA, the FA, the IOC or the RFU would get if they hosted a world tournament but only finalised venues weeks before the tournament started and more importantly only released tickets for fans, a couple of weeks before. No doubt the BCCI will point towards the hundreds of thousands of locals who have registered their interest for tickets online, that's fantastic, they'll sell out the grounds but what about supporters of other competing nations. Are we not welcome? How do we obtain visas, international and domestic flights, and of course accommodation just a matter of weeks or days before a tournament starts? Does the ICC not want supporters from countries outside of India to attend what should be a festival of international cricket?
Can you imagine a football or rugby World Cup without supporters other than those of the host nation? Their response I'm sure would be that overseas supporters are of course welcome and can secure everything we need, as long as we book through one of their three approved travel agents! A good percentage of people who follow England overseas go independently. Why? Because we can book a trip at a fraction of the heavily inflated prices charged for an organised tour. We don't want to pay over the odds. We don't have money to throw away.
Cricket at the moment is not in a great position, what with attendances, particularly at Test matches falling. But is it any wonder when supporters are continuing to be treated like we are. So come on ICC, it's obviously too late for this competition, but please can you think of the fans in the future.
Oh and hire a new friggin marketing team!!
I'm starting to sound like Midnight.