Former England Test captain David Gower has welcomed plans for a new 100-ball competition but says it is “12 years out of date” as the players’ union raised concerns over the format.
Gower, 61, who scored 8,231 Test runs before moving into TV work, believes the England and Wales cricket Board (ECB) may have missed a trick by not acting sooner.
“In many ways you could say that this new competition is going to be 12 years out of date before it starts,” said Gower, speaking at the launch of a Lord’s property investment project in London.
“The ECB had the opportunity to be at the forefront of Twenty20. This new competition could have started and been competing with the IPL (Indian Premier League) from the outset.
“But for various reasons, which you have to respect, it’s taken this long to get under way.”
'I love Lord's, but its walls look like a prison' - Gower fronts ambitious ground ownership scheme: A new scheme, fronted by David Gower, is offering members of the public a chance to buy shares in Lord's https://t.co/KXi6zDGytg pic.twitter.com/aq9dtBFihg— Cricket news (@cricket_news112) April 25, 2018
The proposed eight-team city-based competition, due to start in 2020, has had mixed reviews.
England captain Joe Root said it could attract a new audience to Test cricket but his predecessor as skipper, Alastair Cook, believes Tests need to be protected.
Gower believes there is room for both long and short formats, and suggested simply adding another T20 tournament to the schedule would have been the wrong move.
“I agree with Alastair that Test cricket is important and there are people like him who have made their reputations almost entirely in Test match cricket,” Gower said.
“But the game has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, even more in the last 10 years. T20 has gained traction and the IPL is one of the biggest sporting events in the world currently.
“The idea of making this (competition) different has validity, because another T20 competition added to the world’s crowded schedule, and the English summer’s crowded schedule, would have been just that.
“The shorter the game, the likelihood is you’ll have close games, so it will be interesting.”
But the Professional cricketers’ Association said it was concerned over “the domestic playing structure and the future of the game”.
On Wednesday, following visits to all 18 first-class counties, the PCA issued a statement saying there was “major concern” around the “lack of information and clarity regarding the new tournament” and “apprehension on how the County Championship will fit into the structure”.
The PCA said that players raised the issue of “uncertainty on signing county contracts beyond 2019 and want assurances a fair proportion of the money will be spent on player salaries throughout the professional game”.
PCA chairman Daryl Mitchell is set to meet with the ECB on May 8.
Gower is the public face of a consortium that is offering members of the public an opportunity to own parcels of land at the Lord’s Nursery End.
The Marylebone cricket Club, which owns Lord’s, voted in September to reject plans for a residential development at the ground, instead choosing to adopt their own “MCC Masterplan”.
Former England captain Alastair Cook fears for the longest form of the game after the England and Wales Cricket Board’s proposal for a 100-ball format.
Cook is England’s leading run-scorer in Test cricket and has made his name as one of the most durable players in the five-day game, but no longer features in any white-ball cricket for his country.
The ECB last week announced plans for a new city-based tournament, set to launch in 2020, which will be even shorter than the Twenty20 format and has polarised opinion.
With the focus moving further and further away from Test cricket, the 33-year-old is worried for the format of the game where he has been so prolific.
Cook was speaking at an event to celebrate the return of Yorkshire Tea National Cricket Week with cricket charity, Chance to Shine. Yorkshire Tea National Cricket Week will take place June 18 to 22, giving thousands of children across the country the opportunity to play and learn through cricket.
“Yeah I do worry,” he said. “It’s easy to see that certain crowds at certain Test matches – although not in this country – are down in numbers.
“When I watch Twenty20 cricket there’s a different satisfaction.
“There’s a bit of a thing at the moment about white-ball skills and it’s going to be very different.
“At this moment in time, why would you put yourself through the stresses and strains of the five-day game when you can play three-hour, or two-and-a-half-hour crash-bang-wallop?
“For a deep-down cricket fan, it’s very different to what we know, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t go back the other way.
“Obviously I want to protect Test cricket, because I have a real affinity to it.
“But I would have that affinity even if I was playing T20, more from satisfaction. Do they get the same satisfaction?
“Maybe the next generation will. But that hundred you get in six hours is a very satisfying feeling, a real triumph of skill.
“I don’t quite see that in the 20-over game. Or the 100-ball game. But the landscape is changing.”
The prospect of Cook making any more six-hour hundreds for England is again a point of discussion after a disappointing winter Down Under.
The left-hander registered only 376 in seven Tests against Australia and New Zealand – and 244 of those came in one innings.
The ECB has since appointed Ed Smith as selector and Cook accepts that he could come under scrutiny, but his desire to score runs is as great as ever.
He added: “My job never changes – it’s to score runs at the top of the order. There’s been times throughout my career where people have questioned my place like they are questioning it now – that hasn’t changed.
“If someone taps me on the shoulder and tells me they don’t want me to open the batting for England it is going to hurt at this precise moment of time because I want to carry on.”
Cook earlier gave his backing to the ECB’s new 100-ball competition, in an interview with Sky Sports.
“If you went back to 2003 when the ECB first launched T20 cricket, if social media had been around then I’m sure quite a few people would probably have kicked up the same amount of fuss as they have here,” he said.
“It’s different, it’s exciting. How it all works with the County Championship and Test matches and when it’s played, a lot of that (planning) is still to be done. But I think it’s another interesting step for cricket.”
Alastair Cook admits England were “curious” of Australia possibly ball-tampering in the recent Ashes series.
Although they all claimed that was their first instance of ball-tampering, focus has now been put on the Ashes, with television footage since emerging of Bancroft putting sugar in his pocket while Australia’s consistent ability to get reverse swing had England’s bowlers scratching their heads.
Cook, who was part of the side that lost the five-match series 4-0, has admitted that could have been down to the express pace of the Australian attack, but also raised questions of the third Test in Perth.
Asked at a Chance to Shine event in Tunbridge Wells, where he was promoting the launch of Yorkshire Tea National Cricket Week, whether England suspected Australia of ball-tampering during the Ashes, he replied: “Yes a little bit, certainly in Perth when the outfield was wet with rain they got the ball reversing.
“I didn’t see anything. We have been pretty good at managing the ball to see if we can get it to reverse swing but then there’s the thing with the quicker you bowl the ball it reverse swings more.
“That was the thing in 2005, we had Simon Jones and Freddie (Andrew Flintoff) who were quicker than the Australian bowlers.
“We have to be very careful, we were curious at certain moments but then we couldn’t get the ball up to 90mph where they consistently could.”
Although the three Australian’s actions in Cape Town were deplored, some sympathy has been given to the length of the sanctions, with Smith and Warner both receiving year-long suspensions.
But Cook says that should be a timely reminder for the game to be played in the right way.
He added: “It’s not for me to comment on punishment, but the whole thing is a reminder that people want to see.
“It’s the same with cycling, that whoever is playing that people play in a fair way. If you try your hardest and there’s no external things that you win or lose that way.
“It’s amazing the public outcry for that.
“Sometimes with the pressure of playing, and it is so important to you and it’s your livelihood, sometimes winning or losing can overtake things.
“It’s wrong for everyone to sit in the cold light of day and criticise because people do make mistakes.
“There have been stories that I’ve heard in the past that have been hearsay that people have done things.
“(Shahid) Afridi bit the ball, that’s not ideal. There has been incidents and we have known it’s gone on but it’s the predetermined thing of it was the bit that caught everyone out.”
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