Royal London - a competition too far or THE 3rd Format?
By Grockle et al
June 4 2018

As we reach the end of the group stage of the 50 over competition with the semis coming hot foot on the last game and the final squeezed into the actual season rather than being an event at the end of it one has to ask "wither the 50 over?"

Somerset have not exactly lit the 50 over competition alight so far this year.  After showing pretty good form in the first two games against Surrey and Glamorgan, we were very far behind the pace against Kent (what is new?), Sussex  and Essex before scraping one point against the Bristolians earlier this week to keep hopes alive (we were nowhere near Gloucestershire to be fair and were saved by the rain) of a knock out place if we beat Hampshire at their place on wednesday.

Many are discussing whether we have to bother about this one because it is the competition that seems to be going by the wayside.  With hardly any up front advertising, squashed into one window in the season and with the semis seemingly decided by the broadcasting schedule of SKY or whoever rather than the sense of a cricket season.  If we get through the stages then the Final is at Notts er sometime in June or July - not sure actually.  So much for the once honoured one day final - the FA Cup equivalent fixture fr cricket with a chance to play at Lord's - have they got a concert on or something?

England are quite good at 50 over cricket but no one seems to like it.  I have a soft spot for it because it is a game that can start badly for a side but one where it is possible to get back the initiative if you play the game well.  Bowlers can come back, a batting side had a little more time to restrucutre if someting goes wrong.  However the ECB seems to have no time for it and I seem to recollect that when the changes in 2020 were first put forward, 50 over was not even a format!!

Noises coming from the centre suggests the one day limited over competition is on borrowed time and will probably not exist in a meaningful way after 2020.  If that is the case it will certainly decrease the amount of crickt played.  It may provide space for CC games to be moved nearer to the summer that they used to be played in.  Will it improve the image of T20?  Well it would remove one of it's competitors and create only one form of white ball cricket.  It would also make the gap between the 3 hour and four day forms of the game much much wider.  it could even produce a window in the schedule for a SECOND T20 tournament!!

The longer white ball format does not seem popular elsewhere in the world of cricket where getting people to a five day Test is an almost insurmountable problem already.  It does however provide a decent amount of revenue for counties, especially those without Test venues and where the audience is more local in its makeup.  If some counties are going to lose their T20 revenues because they are not an urban favourite and are uncertain about their ability to attract crowds to Championship matches then the 50 over games offer a chance to generate cash.  A home quarter or semi final can be a life saver and a run in a tounament of any kind can help the faithful 'keep the faith'.

Within the next few days, this yeaar's crop of hooepfuls will be looking at the tables and trying to work out if their county are through or that is it for this year.  Even if a county gets to the next stage it is all a bit 'flash and gone',  Confirmation Wednesday, quarter the middle of next week, semi that weekend and the final at the end of the month.  Wham Bam Thank you ECB.  And what do the others do who do not qualify?  Well they seem to stand around twiddling their fingers while the rest of the competition sorts itself out.

It is all mighty strange.