Hampshire Cricket History

Lies, damn lies and …
October 14, 2016, 7:27 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve no idea how long this Blog will survive – I doubt whether it will provide historical material 100 years hence in the way of Committee Minutes, Handbooks or Wisdens but its title does claim to be about history and one of the obligations of historical accounts is accuracy.

So I’d like to hear from those who went to the Forum, where it took place (Robin Smith Suite? Ageas Suite?), if possible how many were there* (eg was the room full?) and was there at any point a vote/show of hands?

Cricket is so often a game of statistics and I think it would be interesting to get a sense of how many members constitute an “overwhelming” number which is what Rod Bransgrove was quoted as saying by BBC Radio Solent. At a conservative estimate, all forms, there are about 3,500 Hampshire members (sometimes in reporting, they don’t always include Life Members).

I’m not launching another argument here – I’d simply like to know a few facts for posterity.

* I’ve just discovered a report on the  Daily Echo site in which Rod Bransgrove is quoted as saying

“I thought it went very well, there were 60 or 70 there and there were some quite reasonable questions about the detail, but all were in support.”






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Sussex held a forum on the same evening in which this was one of the topics


Comment by pompeypop

‘”I’ve been here on some days when there have been more groundstaff than spectators.’ Says Rod.

Yes, but 3,500 members have paid to be there.

They ought to look at the difference it costs a member for a day at the cricket, compared to the casual walk-up.

Football’s not like that is it? Pay-on-the-day is much the same as a season ticket, isn’t it? I don’t know, as I don’t go to the football.

Comment by Bob Elliott

Absolutely right Bob, they’re happy for us to pay in advance whether we go or not and many football clubs announce attendances including all season ticket holders. Arsenal have done it for years; Man Utd did it for that hastily re-arranged ‘bomb scare’ fixture v Bournemouth. And whether the Championship pays its way or not, if what he says about groundstaff is true, he might like to check the Hampshire wages bill.

Comment by pompeypop

Further to my comments on the earlier page from 12th October, I would say that there were about 100 there (there were 12 rows of 12 chairs and most of them were occupied), rather more than Rod Bransgrove thought – so when saying that there were sometimes more ground-staff than spectators at four-day games he was probably making a similar under-estimate!

The meeting was in the Hampshire Suite (top floor of Ingleby-McKenzie stand). There was no vote but the mood was generally in favour, but with reservations on the effect on four-day cricket, the possible cost of entry, the need for two T20 competitions and how the new competition would fit into the season. Everyone was given a hearing – the meeting should apparently have finished at 7.30 but went on until 8.10.

Kevan James spoke to several of us afterwards and a brief snapshot of their views, including mine, was broadcast on Radio Solent the next morning along with Mr. Bransgrove’s remarks.

I think most people there realised that something needs to be done if cricket is to survive and to bring in a younger audience, but it was generally recognised that this must not be at the expense of four-day cricket. Many of us, like me, are late and reluctant converts to T20 – I regard it as entertaining, but not proper cricket, but it is the only form of the game my wife and our (now grown-up) children will come and watch, and I think that is common to many families.

If anyone else who was at the meeting has a different view, then I’m sure they will voice it here!

Comment by Tim Driscoll

Many thanks Tim. I have never objected to or opposed the T20, I’ve watched it since its inception at home (plus three Finals Days). My principal argument has always been against the consequent dismantling of the County Championship which will continue next year and Rod has hinted is not yet over.

My only specific objection in the new proposal is abandoning 300 years of teams representing counties because I fear that is the thin end of the wedge – unless we are prepared to create maybe 60 professional city teams (which we’re not of course).

Comment by pompeypop

A few belated comments from someone else who attended on Wednesday night. Then meeting was held in the Shaun Udal Suite. I estimated about 500 chairs placed out, but the meeting was not full. I would have thought about 200 to 300 attendees, which at no more (and probably less) than 10% of the membership was pretty poor, for what Rod Bransgrove (RB) introduced as the most important meeting we would attend as members.

Overall I would echo the comments posted by Tim to your blog titled Wed Oct 12th. The initial presentation portrayed a pretty dire picture of the state of cricket, with dwindling attendances, lack of interest by youngsters, and finances of the county game in a parlous state (apart from Surrey!). My impression also was that there was general recognition that something needs to be done to encourage youngsters and young families to come and watch the game. It was also good to have a short talk from a gentleman from the Hampshire Cricket Board (?) from a club/grass roots perspective.

There was plenty of time for questions, and many of the issues that have been raised in this blog were addressed. To what extent these were satisfactorily answered I can only say that there was no rebellion or disagreement expressed from the floor.

A few points that might be of interest:-

RB repeatedly mentioned his love of the 4 day game, indeed he mentioned it was his own preferred format. He again labelled us 4 day fans as being a ‘cult’, although noted that he was one of them.

It was hoped the new format and season structure would be introduced in 2018. Many details remain to be agreed, and it is not decided on whether 4 day county matches would happen in August in parallel with the new city based format. RB’s own preference was for no such games then, in order to maintain the integrity of the championship.

RB mentioned that he thought number of 4 day games might be reduced to 12 per season.

Hampshire would not be involved in running a City team based at the Ageas (if indeed it is one of the 8), and would only provide the venue. It was RB’s expectation that such a team would not be called Southampton.

The meeting ended without any show of hands, but there was some applause after RB’s closing remarks. Whether this was in thanks for the meeting being arranged, or in support of the changes, I am not sure. I thought is was probably more for the former, but I suppose RB took it as support for the latter.

I am pleased I went to the meeting because it certainly convinced me that something drastic needs to be done to try and ensure cricket’s survival. Whether the new format will transform the situation remains of course to be seen, and of course there is the significant concern that it will undermine the county structure in the longer term, or indeed will simply not work. I am willing to give it my reluctant support on the basis that one has to look beyond my (our) self interest in maintaining a larger number 4 day matches, and we have to try and ensure cricket survives as more than a small minority interest. The cricket part of my retirement now looks like it will eventually consist of only 6 home matches, plus as many of the away fixtures as I can get to.

Comment by Godfrey Stowe

Godfrey that’s excellent. Thank you very much.

Comment by pompeypop

Godfrey has pointed out my deliberate mistake, for which I apologise – there were in fact 12 chairs on each side of the aisle, thereby doubling the number of places I mentioned above. I am obviously catching the Rod Bransgrove disease! I would think 200 would be a good estimate. I echo your comments on the meeting.

Incidentally, Godfrey – do you (or at least did you in the late 80s/early 90s) live in Epsom? In which case I knew you and your wife through the church and our childrens’ school.. If you want to e-mail me separately I’m on timdriscoll52@gmail.com. All the best.

Comment by Tim Driscoll


Yes, indeed I am that Godfrey, and still live in Epsom (proximity to children and grandchildren reasons otherwise we would probably be back in Hampshire!). I thought your name sounded familiar! I will email you separately.

All the best Godfrey

Comment by Godfrey Stowe

This is a rather delightful spin-off from the Blog! How I like it.

Comment by pompeypop

A historical record of the meeting should note the Chairman’s comments (http://www.ageasbowl.com/cricket/news/a-statement-on-the-proposed-introduction-of-a-city-based-t20-competition/) ahead of the meeting which made it very clear that the plc would be supporting the proposals and which almost certainly persuaded many of the opponents there was nothing to be gained by attending.

History will show, I believe, that the meeting was a pointless exercise.

Time will tell if the proposed competition will be equally pointless.

Comment by James

I too was amused by how an intro of “largely” quickly became “most”, then “if not all”, then “overwhelming”. A few [last] comments on the above:

I’ve been to MCCU matches where there were more on the field than off it; and 2ndXI but certainly not a Champo match.

For me the question is not whether “something must be done” but whether there is remotely any reason to imagine that what they propose is even vaguely adjacent to the right “something”.

Graves and Hollins did a forum at Lancashire. Apparently they were clear 2020 was the date. Quite a lot of uncertainty over a massively important fact, 2018 or 2020? Go figure, as they say.

Having not yet seen the numbers presented I can’t comment on them, and I don’t doubt youth participation is a big challenge. But I do know I have zero confidence in the ECB’s ability to survey anything, and no idea why they believe what they propose will solve the problem (which independent data suggests is not specific to cricket, but all team sports). You can’t MAKE people like you, and changing who you are to curry favour, well….

There is an entire generation to come of people just about to retire (I’m 60 in a few years) who grew up watching Champo cricket, who will be the last generation with final salary pension schemes: absolutely nothing whatsoever is being done to attract them back to cricket. Zero, zilch, nada.

This tournament (Dave might correct me) is the least evolutionary development Cricket has taken. I still hav’n’t heard a single reason why “City” is the way to go, other than that it works for the IPL and BBL, and is about the only feature of both tournaments these guys intend to copy. Did they address that, at all?

Comment by Jeremy

As ever, an excellent post Jeremy – cheers. Especially pertinent about people from say 55-65 (with greater life expectancy etc). There is a large potential audience there and one year ago I proposed establishing a U3A centre at the Ageas Bowl to attract current and potential supporters/members to the Ageas Bowl throughout the year. I wrote a proposal document and we had two meetings after which it was quietly ignored

As for another pretty awful competition – I’m broadly in agreement although about 15 (+) years ago we had the seriously crap B&H Super Cup for just one season. We qualified I think on the basis of our Championship position the previous year and played Yorkshire away. They thumped us and that was that!

Comment by pompeypop

Thanks Dave.

Where I wrote Lancashire, I meant Leicestershire. Sorry.

Interesting also that the ECB seem to have sent at least a couple of their core £100k+ employees to all the other counties forums (top guy now on £314k), but it seems they didn’t feel RB needed any help.

The participation guy is ex Mars, two others ex Heineken. Cricket is just a “brand” for them to play with.

When I was in business, “marketing” people were those in Sales who couldn’t actually sell anything, and so spent their time oleaginously slithering around trying to blame everyone else, obviously especially those actually making the stuff, for their hopelessness. As it was all they did, they often succeeded.

Twenty years from now, the Ashes will be 5 T20 games played over a weekend, T20 will have become 3 games of T6, and T20 will have been replaced by 5 “super over” contests played every 40 minutes, a bit like an afternoon at the races. And I’ll be (god willing) at Arundel 😉

Comment by Jeremy

Hah! Don’t even get me started about ‘marketing’ in Education …

Comment by pompeypop

I thought marketing people actually sold nothing or something like it; some of them seem reasonably clever at it.

Heritage Cricket 500 and CricBall50 after 2020.

Comment by StephenFH

From the Save our counties facebook page. Weasel words mainly.
Apologies for posting such a long quote but the logic of this recent ECB statement begs so many questions it had to be done!


ECB Chief Operating Office, Gordon Hollins said, the ECB would not allow the existing T20 Blast to be diminished by the new competition with a clear marketing policy to eventually guide new fans towards the existing county game.



The rationale behind having two competitions is that they will be clearly targeted at different audiences. “We would maintain a vibrant T20 competition aimed largely at existing cricket fans: people like ourselves,” said Hollins. “But we would build a new T20 competition later in the summer aimed at a more diverse, family audience.”




IF THIS STATEMENT (“We would maintain a vibrant T20 competition aimed largely at existing cricket fans”) IS AS WE UNDERSTAND IT, DOES THAT MEAN THE NEW CAMPAIGN/COMPETITION WILL BE AIMED AT NON-CRICKET FANS!?


“The implementation of the two competitions would be differentiated at every level. We would market them differently. We would target them at different fans. We would conduct segmentation and market research about the best way to target different fans for different competitions. So there would be two competitions with distinct roles. We think that both can thrive.”


Comment by Paul

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