ECB County Championship Format Feedback

Our lobbying to the ECB paid off and we were given the opportunity to collect your feedback on what format you’d like to see for the County Championship 2022. Hundreds of your gave your opinion which we passed onto the ECB and the First Class Counties and which formed part of their discussions before a decision was made.

It was a pretty even split with the conference and two divisions both favoured for a variety of reasons. We know the two divisions will have made some of you happy and some of you not so much. Thank you to all of you who contributed your opinions, comments and alternative ideas and schedules.

Please find below a combined and condensed version of your feedback:

2 Divisions (10/8) Pro’s

  • Simpler format with a good history
  • More meaningful games throughout the competition
  • Relegation/promotion tests players under pressure
  • Schedule set out in advance
  • Cricket throughout the season
  • More evenly contested games
  • Best play the best
  • Less element of chance – rewards sides that perform consistently well
  • Assists in producing good players for Test cricket
  • Attracts the best players
  • Excitement of promotion and relegation battles
  • Appreciation for two divisions of nine, two divisions of eight or 10 or three divisions of six
  • If reverting to this – should go back to 2019 results
  • Simple to understand
  • Each team plays the same number of games (two divisions, nine teams)
  • Higher concentration of talent amongst the top teams, hopefully leading to better player development
  • Arguably more meritocratic than conference system

2 Divisions (10/8) Con’s

  • Counties marooned in div 2 – no chance of winning the title
  • Counties doomed to stagnation
  • Lack of variety in fixtures
  • Lack of integrity when not playing each other twice (some support for 3 divisions to address this and schedule more games in summer)
  • Short term player management and losing of players to the higher division
  • Potentially not a very entertaining product
  • Points system – needs to incentivise teams to win
  • Scheduling – play county championship cricket throughout the season

Group/divisional (conference) format Pro’s

  • Variety in team fixtures
  • Theoretically every county can win it
  • Potentially better player retention
  • More entertaining product – battle for division one
  • Three divisions keeps it invigorating and interesting
  • This format opens up opportunities to get National Counties involved
  • The random element in the first group means counties can be pitted against less familiar opposition
  • BWT at Lord’s offers an exciting finale
  • Joy in seeing ‘my’ team win in Division Three – and the players must have felt that as well
  • Start of season – excellent coverage and a buzz around the county championship but this fell away for the second half
  • Good mix of opponents creating match ups that have been missing
  • Cutting down of travelling time and reducing costs
  • Opportunity to protect local rivalry matches

Group/divisional (conference) format Con’s

  • 24 guaranteed dead matches in September
  • 12 counties nothing to play for
  • Complex point system
  • Carry forward creates distortions
  • Fixtures announced late on
  • Three months in between fixtures
  • Only works for top six teams
  • Potential of creation of the ‘big six’ teams – stay the same and no other team gets a look in
  • Not much to play for in divisions two and three – need to incentivise? Trophy for each division?
  • Points system in no way encourages new fans of the game – too complicated
  • The BWT complicates it – who are the county champions, the team that finishes top of division one or the winner of the BWT?
  • Scheduling – play red ball county cricket throughout the season
  • Excessive travelling
  • Miss playing local teams
  • Talent becomes spread thinly again and you lose the ‘best v best’ concept
  • Gulf in class between the best and the rest makes for one-sided games
  • The smaller counties do not provide ideal preparation for players who are preparing for test cricket
  • Hard to follow

Open letter to the Counties urging for Member consultation on 2022 season

Dear First Class Counties,

We are writing to you as the Cricket Supporters’ Association on behalf of concerned cricket fans from across England and Wales who want to have a say in the game that they love.

As the season nears the end, we are urging all First-Class Counties to pledge that existing members, fans and spectators will have the opportunity to be involved in the upcoming season review and be consulted on any decisions being taken on the County cricket schedule for 2022 and beyond.

We are asking for you to confirm with us and your fanbase, the logistics as to how these consultations will take place and want to offer the support of the Cricket Supporters’ Association when and wherever possible in assisting you in making this happen.

The reason we are requesting this now is that a recent Cricket Supporters’ Association survey revealed the fans frustration about not having a say in the game with 93% revealing that they want to work with the ECB and stakeholders within cricket to ensure the game evolves and is relevant. 65% do not think the ECB are considering existing supporters when making important decisions about the future of cricket and only 32% think the ECB are looking after the best interest of cricket.

It is now more important than ever to get a detailed consultation organised that really does give fans a voice within the game they love. We are pushing for this to go beyond fans being simply presented with agreed plans but allows for a thorough discussion to take place and for fans views to part of the process.

The way we see this happening are three-fold:

  • Members asked for feedback in terms of the scheduling and formats played in the 2021. This feedback is then presented to the ECB and discussed when making plans for 2022
  • Member consultation takes place on any plans received from the ECB and voting take place as to whether members of the Club (the owners) agree to the plans being discussed
  • Each County has a member-elected representative on their Board and on relevant Committees (we acknowledge this already happens at some counties). The CSA is also asking for a seat on the Board of the ECB for a fan elected representative

We are sure you agree that as Registered Society’s, established because of its members, having their involvement in decisions being taken on their behalf is hugely beneficial for all parties.

To assist in the process, we will speak with non-county members who are county cricket supporters through our own channels (social media, website, newsletter) and we will be feeding this information directly back to the ECB.

As our recent survey showcased the priorities for the 2022 season (May, June, July, and August) for county members and non-members were Test Matches (23%), County Championship (22%), T20Blast and ODI’s (13%).  We acknowledge that the 2022 season will again be a standalone season, with a longer plan being created for 2023 and onwards but it is imperative for members to have their say now on what cricket they will be able to support in 2022.

The importance of the County Championship for fans as a breeding ground for future England test players is clear with 98% agreeing with that sentiment and 94% are worried the County Championship is not being prioritised enough so that it can be an effective breeding groups for future players.

The ethos of the Cricket Supporters’ Association is to give fans a voice within the game and to play a positive role within cricket and so are keen for you to pledge that this is the start of getting fans more involved so that all our insight, experience and passion can make a difference.

As the Cricket Supporters’ Association, we want to help the counties survive and thrive and believe that this can be achieved through getting members more involved and having a say within their club. We can help you do that, and so we hope that this is the first step of our starting to work together more closely.

 

Thanks for your time in reading this letter.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Becky Fairlie-Clarke, CEO of the Cricket Supporters’ Association and the Cricket Supporters’ Association Board.

Yes it’s been controversial. But The Hundred can help ensure cricket remains relevant and resilient for generations to come

By Vikram Banerjee, Director of Strategy, ECB

I am a cricket nut, or a “badger” as we are affectionately known.  I grew up on the county game and am still passionate about it today. I remember rushing to Edgbaston after school to catch Brian Lara during his momentous 501 not out. I remember being called in from the back garden to watch Asif Din complete a magnificent century to win the Natwest Trophy on BBC.

I am a county person through and through. I was fortunate to play for Gloucestershire for a few years. I love the crowd and atmosphere of Blast matches, but equally the tradition involved in the Cheltenham Festival. To this day, I regret giving away my tickets to that infamous last day at Edgbaston in 2005!

In fact, I love the range of professional cricket competitions we have – whether it’s Test cricket or shorter international formats, men’s four-day cricket, or 50-over or T20 contests in the men’s and women’s game. They all have their own special place to me.

This week, we’ve added one more to the list – The Hundred – bringing domestic cricket back onto free-to-access channels and not only providing world-class cricket for existing fans like me, but also throwing cricket’s doors open to a broader audience.

It is a moment that presents English cricket with a unique opportunity. Amid the increasingly fierce competition for people’s spare time and the need for cricket to remain relevant in a changing society, this is a chance we can’t afford to miss. A chance to attract more fans, more interest, more players, and more revenue to our wonderful sport. The importance of that is only magnified by the impacts Covid-19 has had on our sport.

“Yes – but will The Hundred change the cricket I love?”

That’s a fear we’ve heard often. So let’s be clear: The Hundred isn’t here to diminish or detract from our historic and valued competitions.

Test and County cricket are the reason millions of people play, watch, and follow cricket – and we’re thankful for every single fan, viewer, participant, and volunteer across the country.

We know that, as the recent Cricket Supporters’ Association survey shows, some existing fans still have major doubts about The Hundred. Big changes always bring big questions. That’s why, in light of your survey, I wanted to deal with some of them today.

Let’s tackle the biggest of all – head on: why? And why now?

In short, the answer is simple: for cricket to remain relevant and to prosper in a changing world, we need to extend its appeal particularly to more young people, women and girls and diverse communities, and to open people’s minds where previously they may not have thought that cricket is for them. We want more people following the game and picking up a bat and ball.

Yes, my childhood was all about the longer formats of the sport, red ball and whites. Playing on a Saturday afternoon for my local club and then watching county and country in big stadia with thousands of others. This is what I fell in love with. It is the foundation of our sport. Each year, this attracts a large, devoted and dedicated following of people just like me.

However, the world is a very different place from then – and continues to change at a rapid rate. All our research and insights shows us that what worked for me won’t necessarily work for my sons, daughters, nieces and nephews.

Let’s take a step back, because The Hundred shouldn’t be seen in isolation. It’s one part of our game-wide Inspiring Generations strategy which aims to see more people saying ‘cricket is a game for me’. It’s a strategy through which we’re investing at every level of the game – from the grassroots through domestic cricket to our England teams.

Transforming women’s and girls’ cricket, engaging children and young people, and inspiring through our elite teams are key parts of that. So is growing and nurturing the core – ensuring there is a thriving county network at the heart of the domestic game.

Ultimately, we want to encourage more young people to form a lifelong relationship with cricket. We want them to be passionate about the game throughout their lives. And we want them to pass on that passion for generations to come.

And there’s another important reality here. At the moment, cricket in this country is hugely financially reliant on broadcast revenue from international men’s cricket. It accounts for the vast majority of our revenue. This new competition gives us an important new revenue stream, which in turn goes back in its entirety into growing cricket in this country. Helping more children pick up a bat and ball, and helping our First Class Counties survive and prosper – indeed, the revenue from The Hundred enables us to give each county an extra £1.3m a year. This would simply not be possible without the competition.

The importance of developing our audience

We can’t escape some uncomfortable facts. Of the 10 million people who currently follow cricket in England, only one million are active ticket-buyers – and they often come from relatively similar parts of society.

We’ve got to look up and reach out. Welcome people from all walks of life. Find ways to get people involved in cricket when there’s so much competition for their time.

If we don’t, the alternative is bleak. Over time, we’d have a fan base that risks getting smaller with every year – and all the consequences that has on revenue, visibility, and participation. I strongly believe that many people will discover cricket through The Hundred, and a big chunk will fall in love with the sport, and sign up to buy tickets at their local county ground. That can only be good for all competitions that we have.

I understand that some people have concerns what impact The Hundred will have on existing competitions. I understand this. However, I’d ask you to look at it the other way and question what would happen if we didn’t have this new competition. Aside from the audience benefits I believe it will bring, it would mean no live cricket on free-to-air TV, significantly less money to invest into the game and the things we love whether that’s Test cricket, the County Championship, developing a professional women’s structure, youth programmes or urban cricket centres.

Some people ask about the data behind the concept. We studied a vast amount of data and research when considering the need for a new competition, and then developed the concept of The Hundred. This included attendance data from ticketing experts, data from bodies including Sport England and the ICC, population information, YouGov surveys, market research by a number of external organisations, our own opinion trackers, supporter surveys and transactional data. Some of this information was already in the public domain, some is standard ECB research carried out on a continuing basis, and some specially commissioned.

However much we love all the different formats of the game, the reality is that research shows cricket is seen, by large parts of the population, as too slow, too long, and too complicated. The Hundred is designed specifically to broaden cricket’s appeal and secure its long-term sustainability.

Here are some examples:

  • 74% of teens cited “fast-paced, high energy action” as the biggest appeal of short-form cricket. That is what The Hundred is all about
  • People were 2.5 times more likely to identify with a city than a county, and by 2030 85% of England’s population will live in cities. The Hundred teams build on this connection
  • 75% of young families said they want an event that does not exceed three hours and is finished by 9pm. The Hundred aims to do that

How will we judge the success of The Hundred?

One of the CSA’s key requests was for more information about how we will judge The Hundred’s success, so let me explain. We will focus on its four key objectives:

  • Audience growth. Has it – over time – attracted new, diverse, and different fans? We’ll measure this by looking at broadcast and digital reach and attendees compared to existing cricket. For ticketing, in year one our target is for 60% capacity and we’re confident we’ll exceed this.
  • Inspiring participation. Is it inspiring more children to play cricket? We’ve launched Dynamos, a new programme for 8 to 11 year olds this year, are also supporting clubs to stay open through the summer holidays, while commercial partners also have initiatives to inspire people to pick up a bat and ball. What’s the impact of schemes like these?
  • World-class cricket. Obviously, this year Covid has meant some of those international stars who signed up haven’t been able to make it here, but we’ve still got top global players taking part. We’ll look at how the standard of the competition compares to other global events.
  • Financial wellbeing. Revenue from The Hundred supports the whole of the game, including providing an important income stream for county cricket. We have set ourselves the target of £50m revenue in year one, and are on track to achieve this, meaning a surplus of around £10m going back into the game.

Of course, new teams and changes to cricket’s format will feel uncomfortable for some. We’re not blind to that. And it’s exactly why we’ll do everything we can to reassure anyone who needs it. The arrival of The Hundred does not, for example, mean the ECB will divert any attention or resources from other forms of the game. Our actions in the last 18 months prove that.

A significant investment in technology means county cricket fans can now livestream every ball of every match. Women’s cricket now has two regional domestic competitions – the Charlotte Edwards Cup and the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy – and last year we were able to award 41 full-time contracts as we professionalise the game. Our ongoing marketing initiatives saw the Vitality Blast benefit from a ground-breaking TV advertising campaign this year.

But we can’t afford to stand still.

If The Hundred can bring more people into cricket, our aim is that it acts as a gateway experience, allowing those new fans to go on to explore, enjoy and be involved in the sport’s longstanding formats. Every person brought into The Hundred means another person involved with our fantastic sport. Another person engaged in a healthier lifestyle. And another person in love with the sound of leather on willow.

The Hundred can help ensure cricket remains relevant and resilient for generations to come. We hope that everyone will enjoy the action and, over time, those who have their doubts will come to see the benefits it brings.

Cricket Fans have had their say in our biggest fan survey yet

  • 63% of cricket fans feel negatively about The Hundred
  • 43% of cricket fans intend to watch more cricket compared to 2019
  • 33% of fans are more engaged with cricket now than in 2019
  • 94% think the lack of priority for county championship will impact Test Cricket
  • 93% believe all ICC Tournaments should have an element of FTA
  • Only 22% of fans believe the ECB considers fans when making decisions

Thank you to everyone of you who completed the survey. Cricket Fans have had their say and you’ve let us know what you think and the importance of county cricket, concern over The Hundred, the desire for more cricket free to air and a positive outlook in terms of engagement with the game all came across clearly.

With responses from over 3,000 of you of all ages, the independent survey offered you the chance to have your say on what’s happening within the game and this is what you said:

The Hundred continues to be a concern for existing fans with 63% expressing negative feelings towards the new format, only 20% of fans feel positive and are looking forward to it and 26% remain openminded. 

The discontentment around The Hundred includes the impact on the existing county structure (50%). It should also be noted that the younger audience are keener on the new competition with 37% of 16–24-year-olds feeling positive, 36% of the same age group feeling negative and 33% undecided.

With the latest survey results revealing such negativity amongst cricket fans, the Cricket Supporters’ Association is calling for increased transparency and openness about The Hundred and looking for an understanding as to what success looks like and how the new format will be evaluated by the ECB.

As commented by Becky Fairlie-Clarke, CEO of the Cricket Supporters’ Association, “It has been clear since launch that The Hundred isn’t popular amongst many cricket fans. Despite these concerns, the competition is going ahead and so we as an organisation would like to know what success for The Hundred is going to be. The rationale behind The Hundred is all about growing the game and so all we want to know is what this growth looks like, what are the links to driving participation and engagement with the existing county teams and with cricket as a whole and how will these be measured?”

A desire for transparency and for the involvement of us fans in decision making is apparent across the board, as 92% of fans would like to be given the opportunity to view the research used by the governing bodies to make decisions about the game.

Only 22% of fans think that the ECB considers existing fans when making decisions and 81% of fans would like to be given the opportunity to work with the ECB in terms of sharing their experiences and knowledge for the survival of the game.

Positively, the survey also revealed that of those of you that play, 41% intend to play more cricket this season compared to 2019 (we chose to ask about 2019 due to the impact of the pandemic on the 2020 season), 43% of cricket fans intend to watch more cricket and 33% of fans are more engaged with cricket than in 2019.

In terms of how they engage, Channel 4 was the most popular broadcaster at 31% although YouTube and live streaming are also very popular. Interestingly, 17% took out a paid for TV subscription to watch cricket over the last 12 months and 68% of them will be maintaining this subscription moving forward.

Free to Air is still an important issue and 93% would like to see all ICC Tournaments have some element of Free to Air either on TV or online. The importance of the broadcast revenue in the game isn’t underrated by fans with 68% believing that cricket needs the broadcast revenue from the likes of Sky to sustain and invest in the game.

The importance of county cricket and its relationship to Test cricket in the eyes of fans also came strongly across as 98% think the County Championship is the breeding ground for future England test players whilst 94% are worried the County Championship is not being prioritised enough so that it can be an effective breeding ground for future England players.

Scheduling is a continual hot topic, and it was mixed in terms of responses on the overall fixture scheduling for the 2021 domestic professional season with 40% happy and 45% unhappy. However, in terms of priorities for 2022 and the summer months, it is clear that Test Matches (23%), County Championship (22%), T20Blast and ODI’s (both on 13%) are the priorities.

Fairlie-Clarke of the CSA continued, “Fans realise how difficult the past year has been for the ECB and the game and acknowledge the amount of work behind the scenes. We are simply asking for fans to have a voice within cricket, to be part of the process and be asked when decisions about the sport are being made. As football is showing, fans aren’t the enemy and our experience, knowledge and insight should be utilised for the good of cricket.”

Next steps for the CSA:

  1. Survey response from the ECB on all points raised including the accountability of The Hundred
  2. Campaigning on the importance of all formats of cricket
  3. Campaigning for  County Members to get onto County Boards and Committees
  4. Continuing our work in equality, inclusion and diversity through Every Cricket Fan
  5. Following up on request for fans to be consulted as the scheduling of the domestic 2022 season is discussed

About the Survey:

The 15-minute online survey was created by the Cricket Supporters’ Association. The survey was open to all cricket fans to complete and designed to understand the current opinion of cricket fans (of all ages) across England and Wales. The survey was accessible via www.cricketsupporters.com and was shared via the CSA’s official social media channels, through the CSA newsletter database, through various media and stakeholder social media channels and through media relations.

The survey had over 3,000 responses, providing insight into both fans’ behaviour and engagement with cricket, as well as attitudes towards the current ‘hot topics’ surrounding the game and how it moves forward. All those who took part in the survey were 16 years old or older.

 

New partnership with Leicestershire CCC

Leicestershire County Cricket Club and the Cricket Supporters’ Association launch the BIG Cricket Survey

 We are super excited to be announcing this new relationship with Leicestershire CCC as part of our Every Cricket Fan initiative. This ground breaking partnership is designed to ask everyone across the county of Leicestershire what they think about cricket.

The BIG cricket survey and research project forms part of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion work at Leicestershire CCC which is focusing on ensuring the club is a safe place for fans, players, and staff no matter what your background, sexual orientation, faith, race, or other characteristic and is undertaking work to create the #foxesfamily. To assist in moving this forward, the research will generate knowledge and understanding as to where cricket sits as a sport amongst the 56 nationalities found within the county.

The survey – FOUND HERE – is designed to look at all aspects of the game to gain a whole understanding of where cricket sits across all communities. The survey focuses on improving the understanding of how sport and cricket fits within the communities and wider society, as well as looking at the situation for individuals and within family structures. Barriers will also be examined to understand how entry and experiences impact on both a participation and spectator level.

Leicestershire County Cricket Club CEO Sean Jarvis said: “This survey is incredibly important to us, to not only engage with the diverse communities across the county, but for us to improve our understanding of how they interact and participate with cricket. 

“All views shared in the survey will help shape the future of what we do here at the club and so we are asking everyone to share it as widely as possible, within your communities, to encourage as many people as possible to complete the survey. Leicestershire CCC is a club for everyone, and we are committed to improving our engagement with residents”.

Becky Fairlie-Clarke, CEO of the Cricket Supporters’ Association added, “We are over the moon to have partnered up with Leicestershire CCC and it is clear that Sean and his team are very focused on not only finding out how existing fans engage with the game but also seeking to understand what potential or new fans think and how they can make sure this new audience feels included, welcomed and part of the #foxesfamily.The research will help draw out insight and knowledge to be used across all of the work at Leicestershire CCC and at Grace Road.”

Please take the SURVEY and share amongst your family and friends whether they love the game or not. It’s only by gaining as many responses as possible from people across Leicestershire that we can create a true picture.

 

What matters to you? Let us know for the next survey – going live this month

The survey is designed to focus on what matters to all cricket fans – whether you are an avid fan who likes are formats of the game, county cricket champions or those who love the shorter versions – and this is your chance to get involved in what is included in the latest survey from the very beginning.

We want to ensure we cover everything that you find yourself tweeting about, talking about with your mates or thinking about when out for a walk.

PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THESE ARE JUST THE THEMES OF THE SURVEY AND THE ACTUAL QUESTIONS WILL BE DRAFTED BY OUR FULLY RATIFIED MARKET RESEARCH TEAM AND SHARED AS USUAL THROUGH OUR SURVEY TOOL.

All we want here is to know if you think there is anything else we should be including in the survey as we write it.

Topics so far include:

Fans intentions – are you intending to come back to cricket? Watch in ground / engagement on screen, papers, or broadcast / membership of cricket organisations / play cricket – how much time / less or more than previously and the reasons behind where fans are at

Will also have to look at pandemic implications here – for example not attending matches due to travelling on public transport / or not being sure because don’t know how it will look / not being able to sit with friends etc

County membership – are you a member / are you considering becoming a member? Have you given up your membership this season and the reasons behind this?

TV Rights – looking at Free to Air – Channel 4 / highlight packages on BBC but also subscription services – what is paid for / feelings towards cricket being on the likes of BT Sport / Sky / Amazon Prime etc and is this good or bad for the fan? Talking about broadcast money and the impact that has on cricket

Ticket prices – discussion on ticket prices (for this season i.e., International matches) and what prepared to pay

Scheduling – looking at how this season has shaped up for men and women’s first-class cricket – the impact on the different competitions / what you would have liked to see / long term discussion on counties

The Hundred – how are you feeling about the new competition / have you purchased tickets / do you have a team? Impact of The Hundred on existing fan engagement with the game

Diversity and inclusion – understanding of how welcoming and accessible you’ve found your experiences of cricket and if you’d be interested in finding out more on our Every Cricket Fan initiative

Tours – how interested are you in going overseas to watch England play if you can do so?

County Championship 2022 – what you’d like to see in 2022, what you will go to watch and when

Freedom on Information – are you keen to understand more about how decisions are made by the governing bodies and the research behind it?

Role of the fan – seat at the table / the role of the CSA and why it’s important we work together as a community to grow numbers and so grow our voice within the game

Got something to add or say – please do so in the Comments section below or email us at info@cricketsupporters.com

Whilst you are here, don’t forget to join up to the Cricket Supporters’ Association so we can tell you when the survey is live. It’s free to join – just click here: https://www.cricketsupporters.com/register/

 

 

 

Every Cricket Fan – our work within the LGBT community and the Rainbow Laces campaign

As part of the Every Cricket Fan diversity and inclusion initiative, we have formed a Guidance Council which supervises all activity and consists of the best minds and interests within society.

We are so proud that Tracy Brown, Co-Chair of Chelsea Pride, the Official LGBT Supporters Group for Chelsea Football Club and cricket fan is part of Council and to celebrate the work we are doing within the LGBT Community, Tracy has written a short blog about her experiences within sport, why cricket needs to take stock and what we are trying to achieve:

“Currently the Stonewall Rainbow Laces campaign is under way and this year the campaign is celebrating the impact sport has on LGBT people, and the impact that LGBT people have on sport.

We can all play our part in making sport everyone’s game. For me it’s about being my Authentic Self. I come out when I was just 16 years old, wow that seems a world away now, but the world was different back then.

From a young age I always wanted to help others and make a difference. I had a family that supported me when I come out, and most friends remained friends with me but not all. That was hard to face back then and I soon realized that not everyone would support my choice to be open and honest about my sexuality.

In no way was I ever going to go back into the closet and so instead I took the negative feedback and used it to push my desire to want to give back and help others. Back then it was a voluntary role for an Aids Charity. But as I got older, I wanted to take all I had gone through and support others in an even bigger way.

I started doing more voluntary work within the LGBT community, I knew that many needed help and support and this was more often than not just someone to speak to, to support them, to be a friend and an ally. But my love for sport was always there and I wanted to bring those two worlds’ together. So along with a friend who was a Portsmouth FC fan I helped her set up Fratton Fever the official LGBT supporters’ group for the club. It was a way of bringing LGBT fans together for Football.

This was amazing but my true love was Chelsea and so in 2016, I set up Chelsea Pride and this journey has changed my life completely and in such a positive way. My desire to promote Equality Diversity and Inclusion has now something I live by every day. My work with Chelsea Pride, Chelsea Football Club, other Supporters groups and organisations drive me to keep pushing for positive change and my pledge is to keep that work going.

Now let’s go back to why we have the Rainbow Laces campaign at all. It’s because we have Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia in sport. This drives me as an openly gay women who has had homophobic comments said directly to me at football to educate and promote positive change across Society. I know I can’t change that by myself, it takes all of us within the LGBT community and more widely our allies to see real change happen. The power our allies have is massive and that’s why I’ve linked up with the Cricket Supporters’ Association in the work they are doing.

I have never had direct homophobic comments said to me at cricket. But it does exist, from gay comments made to players to songs and chants from the stands. Banter is the word thrown around when it comes to discrimination however it’s not banter. Not even close. Imagining loving a sport so much but not feeling comfortable going to watch it live. Feeling unsure about whether it is a game for you because of what you will hear coming from other fans or from the players?

The Women’s game seems to be strides ahead of the Men’s game. Diversity and inclusion within the women’s game is more visible. We have players who are open about the sexuality and about being part of the LGBT community. There is a power in being out and that then leads to supporters feeling as if they belong.

The Men’s game though is lacking in these same areas. Football, cricket and beyond. We don’t have the same openness in the men’s game. This is where I would love to drive change. That change needs to happen, however I don’t believe in the men’s game it will until we get fans to fight against discrimination, that’s all forms of discrimination. Its’ time to challenge those who are homophobic, bi-phobic, transphobic, racist.

It’s time to push for change, to push to our full potential and be our authentic selves. If we can all do this together it will mean, we open the sporting world up to those who don’t consider it somewhere they can be themselves and somewhere they feel safe.

So together let’s fight against discrimination and promote a world where sport is for all.”

With huge thanks to Tracy for letting us know her thoughts and for joining up with us on Every Cricket Fan. We are already putting together research to find out what the feelings are and experiences had amongst the LGBTQ+ community towards cricket, as well as working with a newly formed LGBT cricket team and are very proud to be supporting the Rainbow Laces campaign.

 

 

 

Launch of the International Cricket Supporters’ Committee

We are super chuffed to announce that the Cricket Supporters’ Association (CSA) in partnership with England’s Barmy Army have launched the International Cricket Supporters’ Committee (ICSC) which will bring together cricket fans from across the globe through the various national fan groups and associations to give a global fan viewpoint and voice in the game as well as sharing best practices and experience.

Aside from the Barmy Army and ourselves, current members of the newly formed ICSC include the Bharat Army, Stani Army, Bangladesh Cricket Supporters’ Association (BCSA), The Riches, Gwijo Squad, Beige Brigade, Gayan Senanayaka Cricket Supporters’ Association (Sri Lanka) and the Caribbean Cricket Podcast community. And we are hoping that this will grow to include more national cricket supporting communities after launch.

The idea behind the International Cricket Supporters’ Committee is a simple one, as Becky of the CSA says, “We believe wholeheartedly that fans have an integral and positive role to play in the game. Fans and their representative organisations can offer their insight, experience, and opinions as to how the game survives and prospers and by coming together ensure cricket is a meaningful part of societies across the world. We know from conversations with other fan groups that they feel the same and so forming a Committee seemed the ideal way for us to start talking together from a global viewpoint. We are so pleased with the number of organisations signed up already and are openly looking for other national fan groups to apply.”

Chris Millard, Managing Director of the Barmy Army continues, “Every fan group has their own experiences and their own issues but many are also shared across the world. At the Barmy Army we have 25 years of touring knowledge across all the cricket playing nations, we wanted to share this with other like-minded organisations. The ICSC will look at everything from ticket prices, to scheduling to best practice in terms of racism, travelling overseas and diversity. We will also be looking at fan experiences and engagement and what works across different communities. By founding this committee, we are excited to be able to share knowledge and expertise and to bring together a community of cricket fans from across the world under one umbrella organisation.”

With the fans organisations involved totalling over 1 million cricket fans across the globe, the International Cricket Supporters’ Committee will through surveys, committee meetings, open forums and the opportunity raise questions and concerns whenever and wherever, be able to act as the conduit between the ICC and other global stakeholders within the game and cricket fans.

Central to the new Committee is the ethos that all fans should have equal rights and that cricket should be accessible, safe, and welcoming for each and every fan of the game.

Sign up to the ICSC is free but member groups do need to qualify and be verified. If interested please email us at info@internationalcricketsupporters.com or go to www.internationalcricketsupporters.com

 

Latest full survey results revealed – what did you say?

With over 2,500 responses, our latest survey has provided insight into not only how you feel about cricket but also your attitudes towards the current ‘hot topics’ surrounding the game and how it moves forward.

The Hundred, Free to Air for ICC Tournaments and Test Cricket and the role fans can play alongside the ECB were all stand out stats.

  • 95% of respondents want to see some element of all ICC Tournaments Free to Air (online or TV)
  • Only 12% of fans surveyed showed an intention to watch The Hundred live and 29% said they would watch it on TV or online
  • 41% of fans are concerned that there will be no meaningful county cricket during the height of the summer
  • 65% of cricket supporters don’t think the ECB considers existing fans when making important decisions
  • 90% of fans agreed that ‘supporters need to be given the opportunity to work with the ECB to assist in keeping the game relevant’
  • 78% have played at least the same amount of cricket this season as last

The independent survey covered a broad range of topics and highlighted the range of opinion amongst cricket fans, however there were some areas where fans generally agree. Perhaps most starkly is the commonly held thought that the ECB needs to develop the opportunities in which they work with cricket fans in keeping the game relevant (90% of fans agreed with this sentiment), whilst 65% of cricket supporters don’t think the ECB considers existing fans when making important decisions. 55% also disagree that the ECB are looking after the best interests of cricket.

There is general agreement amongst fans that cricket needs to evolve for future generations to play and watch the game (56%) and 53% agreed that cricket needs to evolve to remain relevant. How it does this of course is a polarising issue, with The Hundred drawing a broad range of opinions. Only 12% of fans surveyed showed an intention to watch The Hundred at a ground but this rose to 28% for 16-24 year olds. Slightly more intend to watch online or on TV, with the average figure at 29% but this again rose to 53% for 16-24 year olds and fell to 13% for 65-74 year olds.

Fans do have grave concerns around the new tournament, with 52% thinking that it will have a negative impact on the existing county structure and 41% of fans are concerned that there will be no meaningful county cricket at the height of the summer. 47% don’t believe in the rationale behind the competition and anecdotally the research found many felt a general lack of information about The Hundred made them unable to comment.

Another stand out area is the desire for some cricket to be shown Free to Air with 95% of respondents agreeing that all ICC Tournaments should have some element of free to air coverage (online or broadcast). This desire for some elements of Free to Air coverage is felt across all forms of cricket with Test cricket (the favoured form of the game across the survey) the most preferred option at 76%. ODI’s followed at 59%, T20 Internationals at 44% and Vitality T20 Blast at 36%, although with the Blast this did rise to 41% amongst the 16-24 age bracket.

The exclusivity of the game either through Free to Air or the price of tickets is another consideration factor. 45% of fans consider cricket good value for money compared to watching other live sport and only just over half willing to spend over £50 on a single international match ticket (this figure is down to 40% for the 16-24 year old bracket). Domestically 44% are prepared to spend between £20-£50 on a single Vitality Blast Ticket and that percentage figure goes down further with the Royal London One Day Cup (42%) and 32% for the Specsavers County Championship.

It’s clear that there is strong sentiment amongst you all for fans to be part of the consideration process and so working with the stakeholders within the game is key to what we are trying to achieve. We know that you, the cricket fan, has a lot to offer in terms of the prosperity and growth of the game and this passion and enthusiasm should be utilised and not taken for granted.

For us to be successful, we need to continue to grow and grow across all communities, ages and genders. We want to represent cricket fans from across the spectrum and for all fans to get involved – no matter what areas of the game you love or don’t love, if you play or don’t play cricket or what you think about how the game is evolving. We are here for you.”

 

About the Survey:

The 15-minute online survey was created by the Cricket Supporters’ Association in conjunction with the team at Iris Concise, with the results analysed by the team at Sparkler. The survey was open to all cricket fans to complete and designed to understand the current opinion of cricket fans (of all ages) across England and Wales. The survey was accessible via www.cricketsupporters.com and was shared via the CSA’s official social media channels, through the CSA newsletter database, through various media and stakeholder social media channels and through media relations.

With thanks as always to Getty Images.

 

 

 

Can I have some cold turkey?

by Paul Winslow, Cricket fan / addict

So here we are… it’s day one of the fifth Test and while Australia has retained the Ashes there’s everything to play for. After all a World Cup and a drawn Ashes series wouldn’t be a bad summer. I’m so excited I could crush a grape… except. I’m not. I mean I’m looking forward to it, but I feel a bit overloaded.

I haven’t got over the miracle of Headingley yet and there’s been another whole Test since then. I haven’t got over Archer’s Lord’s heroics and there’s been two Tests since then. I’ve almost forgotten Jack Leach’s audition to become an opener against Ireland. I haven’t got over the World Cup final yet and there’s been five Tests since then (I wrote four, then remembered Ireland… says it all.) And the West Indies series… a lifetime ago.

All the aforementioned highlights should stand alone to be inhaled, digested, consumed and appreciated before the next one happens along, but there simply isn’t time.

Can you have too much of a good thing? Well, yes and no. Complaining there’s too much cricket is like complaining there’s too much wine. But fine wine is best enjoyed when you haven’t smashed a couple of bottles down every other day for a couple of months. And so, cricket is best enjoyed when it has a feeling of being special.

It’s a good job that the ECB is mostly aiming its new ‘format that will not be named’ at new fans of cricket because quite frankly those of us who love it haven’t got enough time for anymore. I’m primarily an England fan and as I live overseas that’s what I have the most access to. Am I interested in the County Championship? Yes. Do I want to follow domestic cricket as well? Yes? But where do you find the time? I can’t keep up with what England have done this year.

There’s no wonder the players are burnt out because I am too. I can’t get my level of excitement up to its normal levels because I’ve been asked to do it too many times this year all ready.

One of my favourite parts of Test cricket is that it is one of the few things in this world that doesn’t satisfy the instant gratification needs of the 21st century human. You can’t just binge watch a Test match, you have to watch it unfold over several days. And you used to have to wait a while between Tests to recalibrate. And then you’d have to wait months until the next Test series.

But this year England will play Tests against five different teams… with the World Cup added. It’s every bit the same as binge watching your favourite series. But tell me really – does anyone enjoy binge watching more than they enjoyed waiting a week between episodes? The anticipation is what makes it even more enjoyable.

The caveat to all this is I will watch the whole Test, I this week booked accommodation for the South Africa tour and will probably end up in New Zealand. So, it seems like I’m an addict and maybe they can dilute it as much as they like and I’ll just keep jacking up without ever really appreciating the real highs again. And when you can make that analogy (and I apologise if that’s cheapening the real issues of addiction) it’s hardly a good sign.

What’s the point of all this? I’m not sure. Cricket has had a great summer. It has provided some of its all-time highs. The best World Cup final, possibly the best Test innings, maybe the best Test. I guess a prudent question is what happens next year? Will all those new fans drop away without constant highs? As seemingly everyone goes after the new fans, the last thing it can afford to do is overload the stalwarts so much that it dilutes their passion and dedication.

OK so amongst the madness of The Hundred, potentially not playing 50-over cricket anymore, changing schedules and possibly mucking up the Country Championship so much we can’t unearth Test batsmen (and that’s just in England), it’s hardly a major issue.

It’s just sometimes, less is more. And I always want more. Anyway, got to go – time to continue my binge watching of Day One.