World Twenty20 winner Ryan Sidebottom has called on English cricket to introduce their own version of the Big Bash in order to avoid a repeat of the World Cup humiliation they suffered Down Under.
Abject England were dumped out of the Cricket World Cup earlier this month when they lost limply to lowly Bangladesh.
It was their fourth defeat in five games and was greeted by a wave of criticism for their lack of confidence, positivity on the field and their selection policy.
Sidebottom labelled England as ‘garbage’ and accused them of wasting an opportunity by leaving explosive players like Ben Stokes – who had thrived in the Big Bash environment earlier this year – at home.
He feels that until the England and Wales Cricket Board introduce their own equivalent to the Indian Premier League or the Australian version, then the national team is only going to fall further behind.
“I think we need an English Premier League, because having the IPL and the Big Bash has certainly changed the way other countries see T20 and one-day cricket,” said Sidebottom, who played 25 ODIs for England as well as 22 Tests.
“I think we’ve been left behind and we need an English Premier League that will get the best players in the world over here and improve our youngsters.
“Everybody wants to play Twenty20 and one-day cricket nowadays.”
The ECB have tried to give their own T20 Blast a unique identity in the schedule, but matches are still spread out over three months and are at times shoe-horned into the programme around four-day and 50-over matches.
Sidebottom believes the powers-that-be have not gone far enough, and that a blueprint similar to the current quickfire tournaments around the world needs to be followed.
“The current format is not individual enough,” he said of a competition that starts for Yorkshire on May 15 against Derbyshire and could end with finals day on August 29.
“You might play three Twenty20 matches and be up for it, and then you’ve got to play a Championship game on a Sunday.
“Well, how is that ever going to work?
“Surely you have a big block of six weeks, total Twenty20, making it as big a game as it possibly can be, and as good a game as it possibly can be.
“Then you go back to the four-day cricket.
“I think with that block of games you can get the best players in the world over and that puts bums on seats.
“You get more people wanting to watch the game and also more home-grown youngsters wanting to take up the game, and that’s where we’ve missed a trick.
“Something needs to be done and under Colin Graves (Yorkshire chairman stepping up as ECB chairman) I think it will be.”
Sidebottom, like many critics, believes England’s mentality in the shorter formats of the game needs to change.
It is only five years since the 37-year-old Yorkshire seam bowler helped England win the World Twenty20 out in the West Indies, taking two wickets in the final against Australia.
But with each passing limited-overs tournament that triumph looks more and more like an abberation, with the latest flop in Australia and New Zealand suggesting that England have not built on that isolated success.
That, Sidebottom believes, is down to England’s mentality.
“I think we had an ideal opportunity going into this World Cup. We had a lot of Big Bash players that we didn’t select and that was really disappointing,” he added.
“When we won the World Twenty20 we had Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter at the top of the order who took the game to the opposition and gave us a platform, and England haven’t really done that this year,” continued Sidebottom, who did not even mention Kevin Pietersen, the man of the series five years ago and the elephant in the room in England’s current situation.
“We’ve got good players in this country.
“The team that went out there against Bangladesh, and for the other games, was a good set of players.
“We just don’t seem to play positive cricket.
“I would rather see England lose by 150 runs but go out and give it a go, but we don’t seem to do that at the minute.
“We look like we’re a bit out of form and, to be honest, startled rabbits in some cases.
“We’ve been garbage and it’s really disappointing.
“It’s right that there have been questions raised and inquests.
“The last 18 months hasn’t been great, we’ve not really performed to our abilities, so something needs to be looked at and something needs to change.”