Every so often, English cricket embarks on “a review.”
Invariably, this is described as a consultation with all the “stakeholders” in the game. Which tends to mean the broadcasters, the sponsors, the players and the counties. And, fair enough: all of them are important.
But the group that is overlooked is the spectators. Despite the fact that they indirectly pay the wages of just about everyone involved in the game – the players, the administrators and the media – they are, all too often, taken for granted or even exploited.
Part of the problem is that cricket is run by cricketers. Or at least ex-cricketers. And that means it is run by people who have, all too often, forgotten what it’s like to pay to come into the ground. It’s run by people who have forgotten what it’s like to spend a considerable proportion of their most precious asset – their holiday entitlement – on watching a team that provides no guarantee of success or even entertainment. Hell, there isn’t even a guarantee of play. It’s run – and commented upon – by people who often sit behind glass, benefit from heating or air-con, a free lunch, free parking and free tickets. It’s run by people who have, all too often, forgotten what it’s like to be a spectator.
The tangible aim of the Cricket Supporters’ Association, therefore, is to persuade the ECB to accept a supporters’ representative onto the ECB board to ensure they can be consulted and considered at all times. The less tangible aim is simply to remind everyone – the umpires, the players, the schedulers etc – to think about the spectators a little more. To ensure their views and priorities are at least considered when major decisions are being taken. It’s meant to be a spectator sport, after all.
In time, the ICC and other national boards should invite similar representation. It won’t weaken them. Instead it will provide them with greater insight into the thoughts of spectators and allow them a relatively straightforward way to canvas views and gain feedback. It should benefit everyone. We are, the vast majority of the time, all on the same side.
For it to work, though, it needs your support. It needs to demonstrate that it fairly represents a meaningful number of spectators and that it has no ulterior motives. Ultimately, it needs you.
I therefore urge you to support it and to get involved. It’s your association.
Senior Correspondent, ESPNcricinfo