Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like there’s hardly been any cricket on for ages – right through the long hot summer, whenever I’ve tuned in to Radio 5 live sports extra at 11am, it has remained stubbornly silent. It feels like the ECB’s scheduling has been particularly bad this year. So I thought I’d go through the (men’s county and international) schedule and see how much cricket there actually has been that I, or rather a series of fictional cricket fans with different requirements, could have been listening to and watching this year.
I am a first class cricket fan who likes to listen to county championship cricket at 11am on weekdays. How many days of cricket can I listen to?
48, out of 117 weekdays in the season (41%).
April – 6/12 (50%)
May – 4/21 (19%)
June – 9/21 (43%)
July – 7/22 (32%)
August – 6/22 (27%)
September – 16/19 (84%)
I like to take my kids to watch county cricket on weekends. I will travel anywhere, but I can’t afford international tickets and they have to be home for tea but they’ll get upset if they have to leave before the end. How many days of cricket can we watch?
31, out of 51 weekend and bank holiday days (61%).
April – 6/6 (100%)
May – 8/10 (80%)
June – 6/9 (67%)
July – 6/9 (67%)
August – 3/9 (33%)
September – 2/8 (25%)
I love all first class cricket, but I can only listen to one game at a time. How many days of cricket will I miss that I would have listened to?
449. Of the 90 days on which first class cricket is played, more than one game is played on 60 of them (67%).
April – 80 days of first class cricket are spread over 12 days, while no first class cricket is played on 18 days (60%)
May – 59 days of first class cricket are spread over 14 days, while no first class cricket is played on 17 days (55%)
June – 84 days of first class cricket are spread over 17 days, while no first class cricket is played on 13 days (43%)
July – 28 days of first class cricket are spread over 8 days, while no first class cricket is played on 23 days (74%)
August – 62 days of first class cricket are spread over 18 days, while no first class cricket is played on 13 days (42%)
September – 136 days of first class cricket are spread over 21 days, while no first class cricket is played on 9 days (30%)
I like going to T20s after work on Fridays. If I will travel anywhere, how many days can I go to a game?
8, out of 24 Fridays in the season (33%).
July – 4/4 (100%)
August – 4/5 (80%)
I feel bereft if there is no cricket on anywhere at 11am. How many days will I feel like that this season?
62, out of 168 days in the season (37%). Plus most of the winter.
April – 6/18 (33%)
May – 9/31 (29%)
June – 7/30 (23%)
July – 22/31 (71%)
August – 13/21 (42%)
September – 5/27 (19%)
I like to listen to cricket after work. I work until 5pm on weekdays. How many days can I do that?
46, out of 117 weekdays (39%).
April – 0/12 (0%)
May – 7/21 (33%)
June – 12/21 (57%)
July – 14/22 (64%)
August – 13/22 (59%)
September – 0/19 (0%)
My dad described the ECB’s 2018 schedule as “perfect in the way it really annoys fans of all kinds of cricket equally, allowing them [the ECB] to concentrate on the people they’re really interested in, the non cricket fans.” I think these numbers back this up.
If you’re a county championship fan you’ll have a lovely time in April and early May, and then be completely abandoned for most of the summer. In September the county championship comes back, but only on weekdays so no watching live cricket for you workers! And all the games are simultaneous so you either have nine to choose between or none, so don’t you dare be interested in more than one team.
If you like to follow cricket during the day, you’re limited almost exclusively to the Tests during the height of summer – no long hot summer days running around behind the stands at a county game or playing in the back garden with commentary drifting out of the kitchen window for kids during their summer holidays this year.
This doesn’t include the women’s games, which I didn’t have on the same calendar but which are being broadcast on radio this year – a welcome addition.
And all these comments are without taking into account how the ECB failed to take account of the football World Cup and Wimbledon, instead clashing with important games in other sports but failing to take advantage of the general interest in sports in general which an exciting World Cup generates. Imagine if the gap days between quarter and semi finals in the football had been filled with ODIs – how many people who had got used to their football fix in the evening would have turned to the cricket instead? And what if their sadness at the end of the World Cup had been relieved by the start of a Test match? If the ECB really wanted to draw more people into cricket, that – especially if the games were on free-to-air TV – would be the perfect way to do it.