Hands up if you thought the IPL seemed to go on for ever and ever? Well it actually lasted six weeks and comprised of 56 games. The interest of most cricket fans the Reverse Sweep knows started to wane after three to four weeks and when you have to put up with DLF Maximums, timeouts, Lalit Modi and Danny Morrison that is hardly a massive surprise.
English cricket and principally the self-interested counties have in their infinite wisdom decided to expand the domestic Twenty 20 competition from 97 to a whopping 151 matches this season, having moved from three leagues of six to two leagues of nine. These leagues will now run until the latter part of July, before the quarter finals, and then a short break before the finals day on Saturday 14th August.
Now the English version of Twenty 20 is a much more quaint version of the game than its richer and more garish Indian cousin. We don't have DLF Maximums or Danny Morrision thank God, but we do have Nick Knight's camp Sky advert and rather naff themed finals days (Wild West, anyone?). But this extension of the competition smacks of overkill and greed.
This year's competition has started off well enough with the highlight of reigning champions Sussex's win over last year's runners up Somerset in the opening match being Luke Wright's broken bat. That was followed by Kent's impressive run chase against a Ryan ten Doeschate inspired Essex yesterday. But how will jaded fans feel four weeks into the competition? Will they be tired of the bewildering schedule and have switched their attention to Wimbledon or the football World Cup?
The counties are hoping that the feelgood factor of England's World T20 win will have a positive effect on this season's competition and they may well be right. But you could also argue that with the FP T20 starting soon after that event in the Caribbean and the IPL coming just before it, that fans are already a bit tired of the T20 format at the moment. We shall see.
The greed shown by the counties could just be their downfall. 18 teams is at least eight too many for this competition and it would have been far more sensible to go down the franchise route. In this case, we are not talking about the smaller counties missing out whilst their bigger cousins with test grounds make hay whilst the sun shines. No we are talking about a similar franchise system to the IPL based on cities. Just imagine the interest if London were taking on Manchester at Lord's or Old Trafford in a televised Friday night match? Most of the money could be ploughed back into the counties coffers in any case.
A franchise system such as this could really challenge the IPL; if it is already not too late that is. Even better if a window was found so England players could participate in the competition - surely that is better than a pointless one day series with Australia? One of the teams could be a British Asian side. Such a team could comprise the likes of Ravi Bopara, Owais Shah, Sajid Mahmood, Adil Rashid, Monty Panesar, Dimitri Mascarenhas and Ajmal Shahzad, as well as overseas stars from the subcontinent such as Shahid Afridi, Virender Sehwag, Tamim Iqbal and Kumar Sangakkara. That would create massive interest and could prove to be a unifying factor in the different Asian communities in the country.
Unfortunately, that is never going to happen whilst the counties are in charge of their own destinies; a turkey wouldn't vote for Christmas. So instead of a new, exciting and most importantly lean domestic Twenty 20 with no more than 10 sides, England gets an over-inflated and lengthy affair that smacks of self-interest. One could argue that in their own way the counties are just as greedy as Modi and his former acolytes in this regard.
Wake us up when it's over...