It seems that you can find a cricket match somewhere no matter what the season is, be it at Fort Regent, on one of the many pitches throughout the Island, or even now with the Beach Cricket League, on the beach. The winter version of the game, the NatWest Indoor League, seems to be thriving, although judging by the recent picture of Jon Giles batting for Rathbones OV’s, the indoor batsman has forsaken the high elbowed straight drive, so revered by his fair weather relative, for a more golf-like swing.
The news that the Premiership League will be replaced by a CI league also recently made the headlines, meaning that there will now be a league of 11 clubs made up of teams from both Jersey and Guernsey.
Romerils will therefore be the last team to have their name inscribed on the Premiership trophy, although there will be plenty willing to bet that their name won’t be the first name on the new trophy, as they don’t tend to travel well, and have a pretty poor record in Guernsey.
The new league should make for a much more exciting season, so is surely a good thing. Whether it increases interest in the game outside of those who play it, or the small band of spectators that watch their team, like Goldie and Le Var, or parents who come to support their sons, is doubtful. So how do you encourage those who are neither sad nor related to take an interest in what sixty-six players do on a Saturday and Sunday afternoon throughout the summer months?
Last year’s international tournament at least showed that, given the right circumstances, people will take the time to come and support the local team. But what are the right circumstances?
I guess the first is that there is an element of doubt about the result, one-sided contests don’t tend to make very good viewing and are unlikely to conjure up much debate, and therefore create little interest. A personal interest may also help. When England do well in international tournaments like the Rugby World Cup, or in the Ashes, the whole country suddenly sits up and takes notice and gets behind the team. The common denominator appears to be a special allegiance to the team, usually through place of birth, which conjures up a sense of patriotism, and a feeling of unity with the team. If not personal interest then maybe a financial interest, look at the sustained interest in events like the Grand National, it’s amazing how much interest people will take in something if they stand to either win or lose money. Finally, I guess the teams have to be competing for something meaningful such as pride, money or heritage.
Using that criteria I have made a few suggestions of my own for a new league that should give a few more people a good reason to be interested in what goes on in the cricketing world.
1. The league to consist of parish sides and all players to play for the parish they currently are living in. To stop strategic moving you will have had to have lived in a parish for at least a year to play for them. (ie, personal interest)
2. The losing team has to pay the victors a sum of money depending on the winning margin, for example a 1 wicket loss will cost £100, a ten wicket loss £1,000. Parish rates to be adjusted accordingly so that in the event of a bad season parishioners will foot the bill, a good season though will see a reduction in rates. (ie financial interest)
3. Where there is an obvious difference in the ability in the two sides, some sort of handicapping is allowed. For example if St Clement are playing St Mary’s, Ryan Driver could be made to play in a pair of wellington boots and a tutu. (No particular reason other than it would look very funny)
4. The two bottom teams would have to perform some derogatory means of deciding who should be relegated, something like a mud wrestling competition. (We all enjoy seeing people humiliated. Don’t we?)
5. A public holiday for all residents of the parish that is crowned CI Champions. (What better reason to support your local side?)
I’m sure you may be able to think of a few yourself. Try thinking of something just a little bit ridiculous and then take it a bit further, and then a little bit further still, until you have something so ridiculous it’s brilliant. It’s probably how cricket was invented in the first place.
It will be interesting to see which of the two proposals the establishment goes for, the CI or the Parish league. I suspect that it will be the CI League players are playing in next year though, as having already knocked back such great ideas as turning the club house into a casino, with lap dancers and strippers, and having cheerleaders at games, it is hard to imagine the prudish board of directors getting too excited about Ryan Driver wearing a tutu.