Normally I’m not one to accept a claim of “we’ve always done it like that” to indicate that that’s the way it should always be done. But as I’m sometimes accused of being religious about sport I can make an exception from time to time.
Take cricket. The problems with cricket in the past were that it took too long and nobody watched it (and after days of play, there might not be even be a winner, but as I’ve said elsewhere, to me this is actually an attraction). To arrest the decline, the cricket authorities introduced a number of innovations, and one-day cricket competitions began in the 1960’s in England. So successful (relatively) were they that nowadays this is by far the most popular form of the game. The length of games has been further reduced, and teams have taken to wearing distinctive brightly-coloured kits with names and numbers. This has culminated in the “Twenty20” competitions which are started and finished within three hours. In parts of the world this has been enormously successful. Cricket is now the second most-watched spectator sport in the world, I’m led to believe. It’s true that this has been led recently from the highly-populous countries of the Indian subcontinent, but interest in cricket, especially this type, has increased even in the UK.
Meanwhile, good old county cricket continues to languish, at least relatively. And I can’t help feeling sad about all this. There’s nothing quite like sitting all day with a warm beer and a sandwich watching Derbyshire County Cricket Club (Not the Derbyshire Falcons or the Derbyshire Phantoms or the Derbyshire Scorpions) get thrashed again at Chesterfield. (I stress that I am not in that picture). Tradition, it seems, has gone to the wall. Continue reading