No 19 - June 30: The Grumbler's County Cricket Newsletter

Why Scarbados got cancelled | Back to the Championship | Loving the All-Stars scheme | Why volunteers won't volunteer | Help me grow this newsletter | Hawky the Mascot and... errr... Love Island

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Hello again, I am now halfway through this year-long experiment. I said I’d produce this email newsletter for 12 months and, while feedback has been good, take-up has been barely satisfactory. I started in January and gained 225 subscribers within seven days, now I have 341. The Substack webpage gets 600 to 1000 views per week. I have promoted it consistently, many kind supporters have shared it and I have spent a few pounds on adverts. However, at the current rate, the take up is not enough to justify continuing beyond December 31. I was looking for 1,000 subscribers. At the current rate, I won’t reach half of that. Of course, the content could be missing its target so I’ll be experimenting even more in the months to come. I am not giving up. I will produce these newsletters throughout this year. But if you want them to continue then please help me grow the fanbase. Remember, this is all produced just for the love of the county game.

Anyway, let’s return to the cricket. There’s a bit more Blast and then we are back in the bosom of the County Championship this week and it’s crunch time.

Matches

Here’s what your county need to do to qualify. There are no previews yet for these games. I’ll add them when they arrive. So check back on the website later.

County Championship 2021 scenarios: Who needs what to make Division One (Wisden)

Lancashire v Kent

Northamptonshire v Yorkshire

Gloucestershire v Middlesex

Sussex v Glamorgan

Nottinghamshire v Derbyshire

Warwickshire v Durham

Hampshire v Surrey

Somerset v Leicestershire

News, views and interviews

County cricket talking points: Yorkshire youngsters excel in Blast (Guardian)

It makes no sense for Sky Sports not to pack their schedule with T20 Blast coverage (LondonNewsOnline)

Some fans have seen skullduggery in the lack of television coverage around the Blast this year. I’ll say this - just because you are paranoid, it does not mean they are not after you.

Edgbaston make vow after 'disgraceful' scenes at Birmingham Bears game (Birmingham Mail)

This was well-reported and pretty shameful. There were concerns about the same company’s student excursion at Durham a week earlier.

Sport’s abhorrence of pitch invaders is about fan control not player safety (Guardian)

This is a different view on the events at Edgbaston and not one to which I subscribe. It misses the point that society's norms, values and morals change for a variety of different reasons. The pitch invasions of the 1970s and 80s, like many things back then, seemed much more innocent. We now live in a world of health and safety protocols and legal action for failing to enforce them. The argument of control is far too naive and simplistic. It is used here to partially exonerate the fans’ behaviour at Edgbaston.

Eight Sussex players in self-isolation after positive Covid-19 test (Brighton Argus)

Bad news. What if this happens around T20 finals day?

Scarborough ‘devastated’ after losing Yorkshire CCC County Championship Roses clash with Lancashire CCC (Yorkshire Post)

This is a detailed piece on the reasons for Yorkshire moving the Roses game from ‘Scarbados’ to Headingley. I understand all the points and, of course, this is a year where cricket fans need patience and the awareness that money is tight. The loss is £3m to the Scarborough economy and Yorkshire cricket normally contributes a whopping £5m annually to the seaside resort. For me, the real culprit here is the Government who messaged the first 'Freedom Day' too confidently. A bored, irritable population has been feeling trapped for 18 months, so they will cling onto any sort of hope. When their PM says constantly that restrictions are coming down they will book up accommodation and travel for a long-awaited cricket game at a unique ground. All this created a double disappointment for fans.

Welcome to All Stars Cricket - a brilliant scheme which got 75,000 children learning how to bat and bowl... showing that grassroots cricket is bouncing back after the pandemic (Daily Mail)

I love, love, love the All Stars scheme. It has attempted to bridge the gap created by the loss of cricket in so many schools over the last few decades. It relies on local clubs delivering the scheme and, admittedly, that can be patchy. However it is pitched brilliantly for eight to 11-year-olds as they get their own bat, bag and shirt etc. They have rolled out schemes for older age groups now. I suspect that the loss of cricket in schools is as big a factor in the demise of the game as the loss of terrestrial television coverage. This is starting the process of clawing that back.

New 'Donate' button added (Peakfan)

Asking for donations is a tough one. I always said this newsletter would be free and, rest assured, it will be. Does adding a 'buy me a coffee" button go against this? I admit I have thought about it. Funnily enough, I am writing these words as a sit at the wobbly table sipping an oat milk Americano in one of my local cafes.

Peter Trego: Nottinghamshire cricketer aims to qualify for The Open (BBC)

Good story. Unfortunately, he did not make it.

Hampshire Hawks Unveil New Mascot, Hawky! (Ageasbowl.com)

Mascots are much more important than traditional British sports fans like to think. If you have ever regularly attended US sport, you will know they keep bored kids entertained. And many of these eventually become avid fans. Cricket is a long game and there are breaks in play. A good mascot is one of your best fan engagement tools. Not sure how long they spent thinking of a new name for this one though.

Meet Hugo Hammond, Brookes grad and Love Island’s second disabled contestant (The Tab)

Again, don't scoff at this, Love Island is massive and this contestant has played for the England Physical Disability Cricket team. I'd wager he will be the most famous cricket fan in the country for the next few months. I'm sure the ECB will be all over this for the tournament-that-shall-not-be-named. Makes sense. Previous contestant Tommy Fury is currently the highest-paid novice boxer in the world on the back of his appearance.

How do we best support volunteers at cricket clubs? (Cricket Yorkshire)

I did a podcast recently and the co-host, a chairman of a big local cricket club, said many volunteers now wanted to be paid. This not only defies the dictionary but also the very fabric of community spirit underpinning local sports clubs. Now, I must confess, I am not much of a volunteerer, a word that probably defies the dictionary too. This article is interesting as it identifies one of my concerns, I will not be ‘allowed’ to stop volunteering. I realise my position is weak, inadequate and probably pretty selfish but it's true.

What happens when you become a cricket ‘meme’ (The Cricket Paper)

My piece for the Cricket Paper last week on THAT Pakistan cricket fan from the World Cup. Honestly, he’s a very smiley chap.

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Tweet of the Week 1

Let’s interrupt this newsletter for a game of county cricket…

It is incredible how cricket has evolved. Here's Middlesex defending 196 in a 55-over final. Essex needed six off 13 balls with three wickets left and failed. Of course, collapses still happen regularly but something like this is incredibly rare these days. The light was a major factor but Essex skipper Keith Fletcher agreed with carrying on in the gloom as the occasion demanded it. Not sure that would happen today either.

Tweet of the Week 2

Links I like…

Join the Cricket Supporters Association, it’s free 

County Cricket Matters - Buy the magazine direct or on Kindle

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Finally…

This is great. Nice to get it voiced by Harry Enfield's Mr Chumley Warner too.

Finally, finally…

Yes, I am still plugging my book on county cricket and midlife. 

Buy through Amazon or through me for an autographed copy

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