Everybody in Yorkshire & Derbyshire. #itscominghome”
So tweeted the Yorkshire pace bowler Jack Brooks after England’s quarter-final victory against Sweden on Saturday.
The result earned them a semi-final against Croatia tomorrow, which clashed with the T20 match at Emerald Headingley to which Brooks referred.
Initially, Yorkshire said that it was not possible to change the date of that T20 game – or to push back the start-time from 6.30pm – due to the 1,200 tickets that had already been sold and potential inconvenience to spectators.
But common sense prevailed yesterday after the two clubs got their heads together and agreed to reschedule to Monday July 30 (6.30pm), with Yorkshire deciding that it was “in the best interests of the spectators”, with the club also cognisant of the likely travel/general chaos in the Headingley area as fans pack out the pubs and bars.
As such, the correct decision has been made in my humble view, despite predictable whines from the spoilsport minority.
Announcing the date-change on their own Twitter feed yesterday, Yorkshire’s timeline contained such replies as “this is a disgrace”, “shocking” and “poor form”, although most of the comments were in complete agreement.
Like it or not, football is our national sport, and England’s attempt to reach a World Cup final for only the second time is a darn sight more important to most of us than a Vitality Blast fixture – the cricketers included.
I personally cannot remember much about half of the T20 games I have covered, even this month, but I sure as eggs remember watching England’s last World Cup semi-final on television as a teenager along with a group of friends, the sort of memories that last for a lifetime and which today’s cricket-loving children/teenagers have a right to experience.
There is, however, another looming problem. For after we have beaten Croatia (come on, let’s be positive), Yorkshire are also in action on World Cup final day against Worcestershire at New Road on Sunday.
The start-time of that game has already been pushed back from 2.30pm to 1.00pm, so that it is scheduled to finish 15 minutes before the World Cup final kicks-off in Moscow at 4.00pm.
Yesterday, I put a check call into Worcestershire to ask whether their plans had changed in light of Saturday’s events.
“We’re definitely, a million per cent starting at 1.00pm,” came the reply, “and we’re just waiting for confirmation from the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) that we can play the (football) match through the big screen.”
This, in my view, is unsatisfactory.
Assuming that England are in the final, and that the ECB grant Worcestershire permission to show the match on the big screen, the 15-minute turnaround between the end of the cricket and the start of the football seems needlessly tight.
Players will have little time for a post-match shower, etc, there will be scant opportunity for the ground staff to clear things away, and what happens if there is actually a shower/rain and the cricket is delayed? This heatwave, after all, cannot last forever.
If Worcestershire cannot/don’t want to change the date, or if Sky (who are televising the match) are pulling the strings, then why not just bring the start-time forward to, say, 12.00pm or even 12.30pm? That would give a much more manageable gap and allow everyone time to catch their breath, albeit it would still be ludicrous in my view.
Although Gloucestershire have not cancelled their T20 game against Kent tomorrow, they have, for instance, brought forward the start-time to 3.00pm, ensuring a 75-minute gap before the football semi-final.
I like Worcestershire they are a terrific club, and it is one of cricket’s great pleasures to go to their ground, but if England reach the World Cup final, who on earth wants to be going there on Sunday?
Ideally, one wants to set aside the entire day for the football, to savour the build-up and whole experience. If England reach the final, it should be a no-brainer that the Worcester match is rescheduled too.
Make no mistake, there is nothing bigger in English sport than for England to grace a World Cup final. Everything that can be stopped so that we can all make a day of it should be stopped, including the comparative triviality of the Vitality Blast.