Big names back new Twenty20 tournament

March 30, 2017

The England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB's) plan for a new Twenty20 competition featuring eight city-based franchises has been backed by some of the biggest names in the sport.

Much debate has arisen over the plans, which echo the models used in the Indian Premier League and Australia's Big Bash league, but former England Test captain Michael Vaughan and current incumbent Joe Root have both spoken out in favour.  

Speaking on the BBC Radio Five Live Tuffers and Vaughan show, the 2005 Ashes-winning skipper said the new tournament will be a "roaring success", not least because the ECB's plans to have it shown on free-to-air TV will help attract fans to the grounds.

Vaughan said: "Cricket is there for everyone to see. I love the thought and talk of terrestrial partners and the game seen.

"But I don't think that is the be-all and end-all. I think it is important, but I think cricket has to do so much more."

He noted that the average Natwest Twenty20 Blast crowd is 7,000, compared with 28,000 in the Big Bash, although he said the existing English competition would get bigger crowds if it had terrestrial TV coverage. 

The focus on encouraging new fans, such as women and children, has also been a key part if the success of the Big Bash, he observed. 

Root told the same show the new tournament is a "good idea", and echoed Vaughan's views on TV, saying free-to-air exposure is "very important". 

The new competition will not start until 2020, but in the meantime fans can still enjoy some great hospitality during summer evenings watching Surrey's Natwest Twenty20 Blast games at the Kia Oval.

While some crowds might be fairly low, this is not the case when Test grounds host big derbies, with matches between Surrey and Middlesex among the occasions when international venues will be packed to the rafters. Other derbies that are sure to sell out include Warwickshire v Worcestershire and Roses matches. 

A few county chairman have expressed concerns that they may miss out on the action, such as Essex chairman John Faragher, who told the BBC he was "uncomfortable" with the plans, as Chelmsford could miss out.

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