Twenty20 love affair still on
Nine matches kick off this seasons Twenty20 Cup today with advance ticket sales topping 110,000.
Nine matches kick off Twenty20 today and, with advance ticket sales topping 110,000
for the 45 group games, the miniature game that proved so popular on its inception
a year ago seems to have lost none of its attraction.
Worcestershire v Gloucestershire this evening is a sell-out and only 500 tickets
will be on sale at the gate for Essex v Hampshire in Chelmsford after advance
sales were closed. Next Friday's match between Surrey and Kent at The Oval, admittedly
with a reduced capacity because of reconstruction work, is also a 6,000 sellout.
And for Thursday, when Lord's holds its first Twenty20 match, Middlesex v Surrey,
14,700 tickets are already sold.
English domestic cricket has not previously possessed an advance ticket sales
culture but last year's total attendance figure of 250,000 looks like being shattered.
The cricketing format, sensibly, is largely untouched, although there are quarter-finals
this year, with finals day on August 7 at Edgbaston rather than Trent Bridge.
The competition has started later to reduce the clash with Euro 2004 and the scheduling
of games on preferred nights for individual counties means 60% of the group matches
are on a Thursday or Friday.
An innovation is the miking up of umpires - players' mics will be used as last
year - to provide television viewers with explanations of decisions. Off the field
is a cornucopia of "county marketing/event initiatives", otherwise known
as gimmicks. In Worcester, for instance, a remote-controlled duck will enter the
outfield whenever anyone is out for nought.
Speed dating is the rage with some counties, including Worcestershire who call
it "Quick Singles", hoping for spectators to find love. And bizarrely
Warwickshire have registered the Soccer AM presenter Tim Lovejoy as a player to
act as 12th man.
If all this seems a bit of a laugh, that is exactly what is in store tonight in
Northampton where Glamorgan are the visitors. In a promotional link with the Jongleurs
Comedy Store a comedy evening follows the match. The rival off-spinners Graeme
Swann and Robert Croft, renowned funny men, will no doubt be regaling all with
their favourite gags. The stony-faced Northamptonshire coach Kepler Wessels may
Source - guardian.co.uk