I had the very great pleasure of a trip to Old Trafford last night, for a talk to the Lancashire and Cheshire Cricket Society about my books, blog and all things Derbyshire cricket.
What a lovely bunch of people! They were a very friendly and knowledgeable bunch and after a short break, almost 45 minutes of questions after a similar length talk confirmed their interest and we covered a wide range of subjects. There was concern over the signing of Shiv Chanderpaul, interest in Derbyshire's winter work and plenty of discussion about the relative merits of the various forms of the game.
Interestingly - but I suppose unsurprisingly from an audience of established cricket lovers - there was little interest in a city franchise cricket tournament, as proposed by the ECB. There were people there from across the two counties and those from outwith Manchester would find it very difficult (or impossible) to support a team that bore that name. Old rivalries die hard across sport and this is something that the marketing gurus advising the ECB seem to have overlooked. When I was asked if I could, as a Derbyshire supporter, get behind an East Midlands side playing at Nottingham, my answer was simple - no.
As I said last night, the only way that they can draw audiences of the desired quantities to this new form of the game is by changing the rules and making it all the more gimmicky, unrecognisable, perhaps, from the game we love.
So look forward to cannons firing confetti bombs into the crowd when a six is hit, players in fancy dress costume, bowlers allowed one ball an over from twenty, instead of 22 yards. Daft? The rule book could well be tossed out of the window for this one. They have to be radical to stand a chance of filling stadiums.
What a horrid thought.
If anyone out there is part of a cricket club or society that would like to book me as a speaker, please drop me an email to the usual address - email@example.com
I am more than happy to help out and discuss options, either for an evening through the summer or for next winter's calendar.
It wasn't cricket weather last night, pouring with rain, but Old Trafford is an impressive site. I was especially impressed by the warm welcome from reception and security staff, who were personable, professional and efficient.
Thanks to everyone for that and to all those who came along. A particular thanks to Peakview, who came along to say hello and lend support.
The gesture was very much appreciated.
Thank you, my friend.