Batting for Time by Ben Bloom

Another book questioning the future of county cricket? This year’s offering from Ben Bloom is a successor of sorts to Graeme Wright’s Behind the Boundary, organisational matters prominent but brought to life by the people he spoke to. Against a background of proposed reforms to the playing schedule, to the surprise of some blocked by county members, Batting for Time is an answer to  the question who are  these people?

Opening overs on the most invested includes mention of  the love-lives of those in high office at the Oval, Brenda Lower at Hove, a very long-standing member respectfully known as ‘keeper of the balls’; at the end of the book David Griffin, who last missed a day of Derbyshire playing in 2009, flags the game as a coming together of disparate individuals.  Over a 100  were interviewed, as a matter of attitudes towards other people, life, Chris Nash comes across well, as does Kemar Roach, Lancashire media management does not.

But a world set to  be  swept away by franchises, global financiers incoming? Change started at Hants, who as a members’ club lost their way developing the Rose Bowl; baled out by Rod Bransgrove, who iirc took control in exchange for an offer of up to £4mn, and subsequently sustained by Eastleigh taxpayers who by 2015 had filled in with £40mn.

A tale of mis-calculations,  though it is a bit surprising that in 2024 15 counties are still, formally at least, bodies in the hands of their members. Part of the explanation for this lies with the ECB standing behind as well as above the counties,  a funder of last resort, most recently backstopping  for Yorkshire. Some reason for thinking that the 18 will continue, and not to doubt Richard  Gould’s comments on not formalising more separation between the haves and have nots.

The final chapter asks what purpose counties? Good question, Ben Bloom’s book gives the opinions of others, although not his. Stephen Chalke is quoted making the point that county cricket gets the blame when England perform badly, a place to receive exhalations from up above. 2022 was different in that the exhalations went both ways, a better year for those of us who see it as a decent part of English culture and think it worth supporting.


2 thoughts on “Batting for Time by Ben Bloom”

  1. Gareth Balch, chief exec of sports marketing agency that played a key role in the launch of the Hundred “some people will only be happy in a deckchair at an outground with no one else there”. That attitude is exactly why “sports consultants” shouldn’t be allowed to control the direction of domestic cricket – clearly never been to Scarborough, Southport, Cheltenham, Colwyn Bay etc.
    Oh for someone who loves the county game such as Alec Stewart to be steering the course through these choppy waters.

  2. Thanks for taking a moment Mark, and yes quite. Also some individuals with North Korean tendencies in the game.

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