Associate Cricket and Scrambled Eggs

8 July 2015; The Irish launch of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier that is being co-hosted by Ireland and Scotland from July 9 - 26. Ireland's first game is on July 10th in Stormont, Belfast. The captains are pictured with the ICC World Twenty20 Trophy for India 2016 that 6 teams will qualify for from the Qualifier in Ireland and Scotland. In attendance at the launch are captains of the competing teams, from left, Jack Vare, Papua New Guinea, Muhammad Ghouss, USA, Peter Gough, Jersey, William Porterfield, Ireland, Paras Khadka, Nepal, Tanwir Afzal, Hong Kong, and Nicolaas Scholtz, Namibia. Titanic Visitor Centre, Titanic Quarter, Belfast, Co. Antrim. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / ICC / SPORTSFILE

Apparently, nightmares come from eating cheese before bedtime. For me, it’s from watching interviews with Associates’ captains.

Mommsen, Borren and Porterfield all shared their frustrations after quick exits from the T20 championships.

These are talented cricketers, huge contributors to the Associate game, and they spoke in unison: the ICC pay lip service to progressing the game beyond the top teams, but their actions lack commitment. Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands have minimal action at international level for the foreseeable future, but still must retain the interest of players and spectators – and grow the game at home.

I fell asleep mulling over their views. I awoke, like Paul McCartney woke to find “Yesterday” in his head, with an idea for the European Cricket League which Neil Drysdale has proposed, and one which seems, to my civilian eyes, sponsor friendly.

If we take the capitals of European Cricket League countries, we find: Edinburgh, Dublin, The Hague /Amsterdam, Cardiff, St Helier and Copenhagen. All of these are highly popular for “City Breaks”.

I dreamt asking Edinburgh Airport –which serves all these destinations – to sponsor a league which would grow their passenger numbers. They might be supported by other airports, an Edinburgh based flight comparison website, a hotel chain, and a leading city breaks travel agency. Add half a dozen airlines who fly to these venues, and there’s a range of sponsors, all benefiting from teams and supporters travelling, and, because of the number involved, needing to sponsor at a relatively low level.

The league would be played, home and away, over two years, giving games on one weekend each month from May to September. For a good cricketing weekend, why not an ODI on the Saturday and two T20 games on the Sunday, which could be used, if necessary, as a reserve day. Teams would have a minimum of 5 competitive ODIs and ten T20s each season.

The travel agency could produce discounted packages for number of weekends booked, and extras, like spa vouchers, or discounted entry to attractions, could make it attractive to couples.

These ideas exist in other spheres, it just needs some vision in the cricketing world to adapt them.. One thing is sure, doing nothing is no longer an option.

It may be fanciful, but pragmatism has got us nowhere.

Anyway, when McCartney woke up with that famous tune in his head, it was originally called “Scrambled Eggs”!

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