Harvey: Domestic cricket needs major revamp

SARAH HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 17/08/2014
Domestic cricket
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REVAMP: Domestic cricket was in need of a serious revamp.

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OPINION: DOMESTIC cricket is in for a long overdue, well deserved shake up - and it might bring the cricket watching public back.

Come this summer you might actually notice there is a domestic cricket competition or two going on in this country, such a difference there will be.

In summers gone by you could have been forgiven for being unaware that there were domestic cricket games being played in this country - such was the low profile.

Yes, cricket would rear its head for Twenty20 matches and for the finals of the Ford Trophy and Plunket Shield, but aside from that it slipped firmly under the radar. Our favourite summer sport barely registered a blip.

The domestic competition has always been used as the high performance pathway to our national side, and so it should be, but that should not have to come at the expense of a well structured competition that appeals to the public and is played during the warmest months.

That is where the change is set to come - not only will the one day, four day and T20 competitions be the chance for our cricketers to showcase their wares but the competitions have been given a commercial revamp to make them appealing to those who might not traditionally be cricket fans.

The T20 competition will be played over a five-week window in November and December, as opposed to a lengthy competition that splutters along from October until January.

It will also be timed to finish just before Australia's Big Bash Twenty20 competition thus allowing some exciting international talent to come to our shores. Each domestic team is allowed up to two international players and often these players have the ability to draw crowds.

New Zealand Cricket is yet to release the finer details of the Twenty20 competition but expect it to be revamped in a big way, probably renamed and to be played largely under lights to suit not only a TV audience but those who want to watch a quick game of cricket after school or work.

The entertainment at these matches is also expected to be ramped up, again to make it a more complete experience.

Coupled with the rejuvenation of the T20 competition is the condensing of the Ford Trophy - our premier one day competition. Previously the Ford Trophy was played throughout the season culminating in a final in March.

Cricket bosses said their rationale for such a late end was that they wanted to finish the season with a bang and the best way they could do that was with a 50 over final.

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Now, though, they have realised that by March rugby is well under way, the weather is starting to turn and the public appetite for cricket is well and truly on the wane.

The Ford Trophy will now be played in a five and a half week bracket over December and January while most Kiwis are on holiday and, therefore, able to go along to a cricket game or two.

And, hey, when it's warm and the days are long cricket is firmly in sports fans' minds - not in March when there is an abundance of other sports competing for our viewing minutes.

The condensed nature of the Ford Trophy means it should be easier to follow a team.

The Plunket Shield will stay largely unchanged and will be played throughout the season.

The four day format is harder to commercialise but it is supremely important as a pathway to the national side. Leaving this as it is, is the right call.

And, for those that say the commercialisation of cricket is sad - get in the real world. The reality is that without fans, and eyes on the games, there is no money and without money there is no resource for teams, and no professional cricket.

- Sunday News

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