In the UK we’re used to hosting top class sporting events, but the summer of 2019 is the summer to end all cricketing summers – and it should reverberate all around the cricketing community, right down to the grassroots.
All Eyes on Cricket in 2019
It is a feast of top quality cricket never seen before in such close proximity on these shores – a home World Cup for which England are warm favourites, swiftly followed by an Ashes series. The World Cup final takes places on July 14 and, should England make it, they’ll be swapping their colours for their whites a mere two-and-a-half weeks later when the Ashes kicks off on August 1st. It’s a remarkable schedule that promises wall-to-wall cricket.
With no summer football tournament to distract us, all sporting eyes will be on English cricket, and that has to be a good thing for club and grassroots cricket in this country.
England’s ODI captain is well on board with this idea.
It is so powerful. When a World Cup comes around, it is very similar to the impact of an Olympics or Commonwealth Games – it brings people together. Participation in sports grew after London 2012, for example, and Team GB doing so well. The World Cup can do that, too. It can boost the grassroots game. EOIN MORGAN
He’s not wrong. Various schemes and initiatives around the World Cup will actively work to capitalise on this enthusiasm and this opportunity, and to bring cricket to even more people. One of them is from Chance to Shine, who do consistently good and proactive work in engaging kids with cricket. Its World Cup Schools programme is delivering half-term projects throughout the school year to engage pupils in fun and exciting ways during next year’s flagship ODI tournament.
This Thrilling England Side Can Reinvigorate the Sport
The hosting of two such huge events alone will present enough of an opportunity to grow the sport, but imagine if England win one or both of the big ones. They are the bookies favourites to do exactly that, and the momentum that would bring to the sport is a hugely exciting prospect. Add to that the swashbuckling, thrilling brand of cricket with which England’s ODI team now plays, and we have an opportunity to reinvigorate the game to an even greater degree than England’s 2005 Ashes win did.
The one issue that might hold cricket back is its visibility, or lack of it. One of the key factors that made the 2005 Ashes series so memorable is that was on terrestrial TV – around 23m people watched a minimum of 30 minutes of live cricket at least once during that incredible summer, with audiences peaking at around 8.4m. And then the curtain came down. The following home Ashes, tucked away on Sky Sports, reached a peak of audience of just under 2m – over 6m down on 2005. It is one of the greatest challenges faced by the sport, and while English cricket has become dependent on the riches lavished on it by Sky, it has to ask itself is it worth it if large swathes of your potential audience simply can’t see the product.
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