ECB says changes to county cricket will increase attendances
The ECB believes the changes to the county cricket programme next season will lead to increased attendances.
Last Updated: 26/11/13 4:44pm
The governing body surveyed 25,000 people to gauge the best way to attract more people to watch games live, the most detailed research ever carried out in cricket, the ECB claims.
The new T20 'Blast' competition will primarily take place on Friday evenings, and throughout the season, rather than in a block in the middle of the summer.
County Championship matches will begin on a Sunday with Saturdays kept free because the ECB does not want to clash with club cricket around the country.
The ECB's professional game managing director Gordon Hollins told Sky Sports News: "Over the last 18 months we've been doing extensive consumer research. It's the first time that cricket has ever done it. I think we just assumed people would turn up. Lifestyles have changed.
"We did a lot of research. We interviewed 25,000 customers - potential fans, existing fans, lapsed fans and tried to work out the barriers to them attending at all or more often.
"There is a huge latent demand for county cricket, huge interest throughout the country. Whilst that exists, people just didn't know when matches were being played. So what we've tried to do with this schedule is de-clutter it.
"We're going to have a NatWest T20 Blast competition on a Friday - seventy per cent of those games will be on a Friday.
"We'll have the majority of the LV= County Championship games starting on a Sunday, so Grandad can take the grandkids to the matches. And we're going to have the new Royal London One-Day Cup in the height of summer and mirroring the 50-over international format."
On keeping Saturdays free Hollins added: "We have to recognise that Saturday is club cricket day. It's a very important pillar of the game. We want people to play and attend and follow. We don't necessarily want to compete with the recreational game - we want to give it a chance to breath so that people can watch cricket on a Sunday as well as play it."
Explaining the rebranding of the Twenty20 competition to 'Blast', Hollins said: "We were looking for a word that actually summed up the competition - summed up what it is on the field - big sixes, big hits - and off the field, a great social night out for the fans."
Surrey chief executive Richard Gould says playing primarily on Friday nights will make a "really significant difference."
"Playing largely on Friday nights will give people to come on the most popular night of the week and also to come back regularly. We were fortunate to have three Friday nights last season, almost as a pilot study, and we saw a huge surge in attendances with crowds of 20,000."