Hampshire Cricket History

Not Quite a GDA
August 26, 2015, 6:33 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The topic of domestic cricket’s future is on the agenda again tonight

While waiting for play to begin this morning Dale Benkenstein was on Radio 5 Live Extra. He described the current schedule as “impossible” which is demonstrably not the case since no match yet has been abandoned because the players were too tired. I guess he meant “difficult” or “demanding” but that’s up to him. If he’s says “impossible” that’s what I hear. He also said that the demands on the players mean they cannot “be at (their) best every day”.

I’m sure that’s true. I spent my working life in teaching. Like professional cricket, teaching is a matter of mastering skills and performing to a demanding audience and it’s also – like being a nurse, doctor, police officer, soldier, ambulance driver, fireman etc more important than cricket

But how often could I, my colleagues, or people in those other professions honestly claim we were performing at maximum capacity all day every day? What is SO special about cricketers that they think they can avoid the working experiences of other people – never feeling tired, always being fully fit, having enough time to prepare properly? Why shouldn’t they perform under pressure or on days when things don’t feel right. It’s a tough old world out there.

So Grumpy Dave was emerging again – in truth I haven’t stopped feeling grumpy about the ECB proposals of last week – but today a new survey has emerged from the PCA which might suggest that what the players want is a short sharp period for T20 and what they value is Test cricket and the Championship, while it is the 50 over competition that they consider most expendable.

I have not had time to study this story yet but there is a report at


It will be interesting to see exactly what they do say, what, if anything, they propose, and whether the ECB will pay attention.

(Incidentally, Dale Benkenstein, in stressing the demands of the T20 revealed that Hampshire’s players “practice more for T20 than the Championship”)


13 Comments so far
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Incidentally the report reveals that 98.3% of players believe Test cricket remains the pinnacle of the sport. I’d like to meet the 1.7% (four players) who don’t. What do they think?

Comment by pompeypop

Too tired to comment perhaps?

Comment by Ian

Transferable skills I hear from the back of the room.
Dave you have written much what I did and didn’t post the other day. I’m a part time lecturer these days yet my workload is similar to that of cricketers, as calculated by John Cottrell.
Now in my close season I am marking dissertations, and I’m fed up and cream crackers. That’s life!

Comment by Paul

Dave, yes, change is constant, But:in those ‘olden times,’ six days a week over four months, travel after matches every Tuesday and Friday…train from Soton to Hull, bed 2.30 am and in the field 11.30 same morning…then on to Worcester, All for eight quid a week but a life enjoyed and to be thankful for – and loved!

Comment by Alan Punchy Rayment

That’s what I don’t hear any more Alan – bless you. A life enjoyed, loved and thankful for – much like mine! Thanks

Comment by pompeypop

The full survey is here

Click to access Player-survey-August-2015.pdf

On a first reading it bears little relationship to the way it has been reported.

Note that it’s been published despite the fact only 240 of 400 replies have been received.

I simply find the whole thing economically illiterate. Playing a block didn’t work because the casual punter T20 attracts doesn’t want to go 3 times in a week (at twice a Big Bash ticket price). Test cricket generates FAR more money, so messing with that to accommodate an experiment is surely too stupid even for the ECB to contemplate.

They might also care to consider this years crowds have benefited from great weather, and the absence of either soccer comps (Euro, World Cup) or the Olympics, which often clash. And if the England players play in T20, presumably the poor dears will be too shagged out to deliver proper Test cricket (if that’s what we’ve just seen?) the month after.

As an aside, the DOAG screening at Portsmouth needed 43 more takers to go ahead, which seems unlikely to me, ymmv, so anyone who wants to see it without going further than Soton might want to go next Monday (last plug!)

Comment by Jeremy

I run a Pompey blog so I’ll post it there. Maybe Monday Bank Holiday doesn’t help?

Comment by pompeypop

It seems DOAG is not being advertised in Portsmouth. I’m not sure what was done to publicise it here but I live right in the city, am in contact with local cricket people, used to teach film studies here, read the local ‘paper etc and the only thing I ever heard about it was from you. I guess it’s not happening. If it went to DVD I’d buy a few copies and circulate them immediately …

Comment by pompeypop

Thanks, Dave. Details here:


Comment by Jeremy

David’s second paragraph confirms my belief that it is not worth wasting time listening to anything Mr Benkenstein says.

David’s last paragraph confirms my belief that it would be better for Hampshire if Mr Benkenstein sought alternative employment next season.

As always just my opinion of course.

Comment by James

For what it’s worth here are my views on the poor over-worked modern cricketer.
My first comment is, if they are tired then what are they doing on days when they are not
playing? It cannot be that exhausting playing 89 out of 177 days. Particularly when you take into account that a large percentage of the time they are relaxing in the dressing room.

Maximum overs bowled this season (so far) is the 380 (an average of about 16 balls bowled per day) by Gareth Berg. The longest innings in the County Championship (so far) is the 285 minutes by Will Smith versus Durham. Compare that with Malcolm Marshall who was bowling over double that in his prime and the over 1000 overs per season bowled by Shacks. He even managed almost 1600 overs in 1962 and all in the space of 123 days (an average of 78 balls per day). Cricketers are fitter now than they have ever been. No one can argue with that. However, being fit and having stamina are completely different. Ask Usain Bolt to run a marathon and see what he does!!
I believe so many coaches and people in authority have been saying there is too much cricket that the players begin to believe it. I would love to know what the cricketer who said he “felt like a zombie” has for breakfast!

The survey also reveals that the 50-over competition is the least important. The cricket World Cup is a 50-over competition. How on earth can players practice this format if the competition is removed? I firmly believe there should be a domestic competition for all 3 formats mirroring the international matches. And the one-day competitions should fit in around the County Championship and not the other way round. I know T20 brings in the money and I also know the crowds for Championship cricket is poor. But that’s a fact of life. Unless you are retired or semi-retired work commitments will not let you attend during the week. The vast majority of members join for Championship cricket. How many members will counties lose if the County Championship keeps being cut?

I do agree that the schedule is ridiculous, not that there is too much but the way it organised. Hampshire played 8 days out of 10 early August followed by 5 days in the next 21. They also will play 7 of the 16 County matches in April or September. In 1962, which I mentioned earlier there were no matches in these months. Not sure who is responsible for compiling the fixtures but a monkey could do a better job.

In summary, being a professional cricketer is a great job. I wish I was good enough to play for Hampshire. If cricketers find it so exhausting then try a different career. They will soon realise just how lucky they are.

Comment by Tigger

Surely the key is not just sensible blocks, but due consideration of travelling time. James Vince’s trip from Cardiff to Durham on Monday night (yes, I know that’s not an example from County Cricket) is the sort of thing to be avoided. Smaller groups in the 50 over competition would help, especially if arranged regionally, as is the T20. But of course that means we’d never see some counties until the QFs, as with Worcester this year.

Comment by ageas

The big travelling problem is the one-day stuff rather as in the early days of the Sunday League when teams SOMETIMES had to pack up and move Saturday night then back again Sunday night. But even that was a lot less frequent than the players tended to claim. Vince is an exceptional case but it’s no great hardship to travel by luxury coach to Durham next week and then stay in a posh hotel for four days while every meal is provided and paid for. Even as a Head of Dept in a University I had to pay for my own lunch – when did you last see a cricketer do that during a match? I think one key difference from the 1950s & 1960s is that they are cricketers 12 months of the year unlike the players then who found other ‘ordinary’ jobs in the winter (many after 18 months of National Service). It’s no fault of theirs but modern cricketers have no idea of life outside their ‘bubble’ which I don’t mind UNTIL they start moaning about it. Then I’m with Tigger’s last paragraph entirely.

Comment by pompeypop

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