Red-ball cup may offer route back for cricket, says Yorkshire CCC’s Martyn Moxon

MARTYN MOXON would like to see some form of red-ball cup – and possibly three-day games – if there is not enough time for a meaningful County Championship.

Monday, 20th April 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 20th April 2020, 12:39 pm
Tim Bresnsan and Martyn Moxon chat with Steven Patterson at last season's media day. Picture Tony Johnson.

The Yorkshire director of cricket believes that the sport must be adaptive and creative to ensure that there is some form of county red-ball this year.

The England and Wales Cricket Board is set to announce later this week reworked fixture plans for the county and international game.

It seems likely that there will be a quick-fire run of international matches and that the T20 Blast will be played as late as possible to ensure the maximum chance of attracting crowds, with the season set to begin behind closed doors with games live-streamed to supporters.

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Quite how the four-day Championship fits into the mix remains to be seen, with half the tournament already lost under the initial schedule, but Moxon is hoping for red-ball activity.

“Whether it would be classed as first-class cricket, who knows, but if we haven’t got the time to get a full Championship season in, or enough Championship games to warrant promotion and relegation, then I’d like us to look at whether there is a different, one-off competition that we could have this year which can provide us with competitive red-ball cricket,” he said.

“Perhaps it could be like an old Benson and Hedges-type format, where you play your local groups and then have quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final – basically, something that gives you something positive to play for.

“It depends on when we start, of course, but in that particular scenario it wouldn’t be playing for the County Championship, you’d have to call it something else – the red-ball cup, or whatever you want to call it.

“It would be a shortened version of the Championship, but if you’re only playing half-a-dozen games, or whatever, you couldn’t really call it the Championship and have promotion and relegation.”

Moxon supports the consensus view that cricket must take a pragmatic approach this season and prioritise revenue-raising white-ball games.

However, he is a passionate supporter of the Championship and advocates thinking outside the box to find a solution.

“I’d rather we adapt and do something innovative than play no red-ball at all,” he added.

“I think everyone just wants to get as much cricket in the season as possible and we’re going to have to be creative, I think, in how we do that.

“There’s various things that could be tried; you could also shorten the matches potentially to three days if necessary.

“That could be an option as a one-off this season, but the basic premise is that we need to be as creative as we possibly can.”

At international level, that creativity could extend to England playing Test and white-ball matches concurrently with two separate sides/squads.

Moxon believes it is a good idea but perhaps unworkable at county level.

“From our point of view we could probably do it at Yorkshire because we’ve got enough players on our staff that could probably cover that,” he said.

“But that might not be possible for some counties; those with smaller staffs might struggle to do it.

“Internationally, though, it’s quite feasible; they could easily get a Test team and a one-day team playing at the same time, for sure.

“It would be more likely, I guess, that international games could happen at the same time, but the game must be as flexible as possible.”

Moxon is amenable to county matches taking place behind closed doors in an era in which the Internet means that they can be live-streamed to fans.

However, he is sympathetic to the fact that those fans may not be able to watch live cricket for some time pending further updates from the government on social distancing stipulations and rules concerning gatherings of people.

“It’s clearly not ideal for games to be played behind closed doors,” he said.

“It’s always nice to have a crowd in, whether it be 500 people, 10,000-15-000, or whatever.

“But I think, realistically, that it’s probably what will have to happen initially this year, with games streamed so that supporters are able to watch them online.

“It wouldn’t be the end of the world, I guess, and I think everyone would rather be playing behind closed doors than not playing at all.”