This blog is about the state of our professional game and the future.
Currently professional cricket is based around 16 counties. I follow Leicestershire. There are 3 main competitions. The county championship which consists of 4 day games with win, lose or draw with points for batting and bowling is the closest to test cricket (played between countries over 5 days) and is currently organised into two divisions (if a player does not play in the first division they are extremely unlikely to get selected for their country). Each county is allowed one overseas player for this competition. There is a 50 over competition (the Royal London Cup) organised on a regional basis. Then a shorter version is the Twenty20 or T20 known as the Vitality blast. In terms of popularity (as measured by attendance) the championship is the least popular and the most popular is T20. I don't enjoy T20 so don't go but there are some good crowds and attendance is growing across the country.
England are probably the best country at the short game but this week have been hammered by the West Indies in the second test losing by 10 wickets after being resoundingly defeated in the first test.
So whats going on that I (and many others) are unhappy about?
The ECB who run the game in England and Wales are launching a new format - the 100. This will run for the first time in 2020. T20 as the title implies is 20 overs per side - 120 balls maximum per side. This takes about 3-4 hours and is often played after work under floodlights. The 100 is 100 balls a side with the overs structure (perhaps 10 ball) to be decided with 8 city based teams. My nearest would be Nottingham. The ECB rationale seems to be two fold:
In 2020 is also the 50 over world cup to be played in England. So there will be county championship, Royal London Cup (no overseas and essentially a second team), Vitality Blast and the 100.
The counties have been given a £1.3m bribe to agree to the 100 even though 8 counties won't have games. Vitality blast is an earner for counties and I expect it will be the last year it runs to be replaced by the 100. Those not hosting a team have signed their own death warrant. And what about the championship? This year nearly all games are at the beginning and end of the season and are played in the working week meaning those in work will have to take holiday knowing rain could interfere! The playing at the ends of the season means games are played in the cold and damp with slow wickets etc. This is not conducive to building a Test team. This is made worse by the fact that good players can make a very good living playing around the world in T20 games that require little effort and are forgotten as soon as they finish. Great test series are remembered forever.
Although not a fan of T20 the current formats broadly work. The fixtures are badly organised for fans of championship and test cricket. There is no need for a new format!
Sorry this has been a ramble....
So, in October I changed my contract to a 0.6 one. Why? Well a combination of reasons..... I am 63 now and so need to plan for retirement and thought a phased approach would be good.... I enjoy my job a lot but still have a commute and had a very responsible role leading on the REF...
It's early days and the jury is out on whether it was a good idea.
This has been a tough week. Been in Brussels all week on a review of an EU project I am involved in.... Its been somewhat fraught and had low expectations but my team (Kay) stepped up and saved the day.
Its an interesting time being 61. Gareth has moved on and is forging a career in music and buying a house with his girlfriend, Amy. We are lucky that they live in Leicester so are nearby if we want a catch up.
I am the oldest member of staff in the School of Computer Science at the University of Nottingham. It really is a great place to work with excellent colleagues and I have some excellent PhD students. But... It's interesting as an academic at this time of life. Throughout my career (both in industry and academia) I have being very driven by goals. Every January I wrote a plan for the next 12 months to take my career forward. I also had 5 year plans. So, for example, I set my goal to be a full Professor by the time I was 50, working out what was needed and how to get there. At 61 at a Russell group University and Director of Research for the School my goals are less clear. I take appraisal seriously and that drives me but ambition? I guess thats to help my students achieve the careers they want, be a successful teacher and do whats best for the School. Hard to explain but ambitions before were all about my future career, they are now about doing a good job.
Also, retirement is now only a few years away. I am lucky (well its partly planned) that we will have a decent income in retirement but an empty week with no meetings etc is a bit daunting. I know I am not unique in this! Cricket will be my summer activity at Grace Road and I have my new found passion for photography. So let's hope thats enough. If it's not will need to develop new interests. At least I am thinking about it!