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Cricket T20 franchises – causing a rumpus

Cricket T20 franchises – it’s causing a rumpus down Lancashire way.

I don’t know what is happening in other counties but in Lancashire the in-fighting has erupted. Not about the fact that the club politbureau took a decision to join the T20 circus without consulting members – but what the new team will be called.

The consensus outside Manchester appears to be that many will not follow a team bearing that monicker. Supporters have quickly divided along city, town and football tribal lines.

Opinions on the Facebook fans page include: “I’m a Lancastrian not a Manc” and “Can you imagine a Liverpudlian supporting a Manchester team?”. Even someone from Bolton – part of Greater Manchester – poured scorn on the idea.

Is this happening elsewhere? I can’t imagine so unless maybe Yorkshire. It is staggering that there is more animosity about the Manchester franchise than there ever is about relations with the noisy neighbours.

The ECB has yet to unveil which locations will get the franchise but clearly they will be based around major metropolitan areas. Will counties then consult fans or members on the name?

It seems unlikely, steeped as they now are in marketing speak and jargon – even Colin Graves spouting tosh about stakeholders and the like. You can imagine some sort of p.r. agency being brought into produce the optimum name.

I suppose they could go neutral given the likely backlash – something like Northern Raiders. However the divisions are not just on geographical lines – many followers just don’t want anything to do with the new competition. Probably why many clubs didn’t go out to a public forum.

Many feel that the franchise games, complete with fireworks and boundary hot tubs, will not be their cup of tea and it is hoped that the Lancashire T20 team will help the grass-roots game in Southport, Blackpool and Liverpool.

The ECB is also proposing a new all-star programme for 5-8 year olds to gear them up for the magnificence of the T20 whatsits name. Here’s an idea – pour some resources into state schools where cricket is all but dead.

The Euro is doomed. #yanisvaroufakis

And The Weak Must Suffer What They Must – Yanis Varoufakis

As a business journalist I’ve read a lot of stuff on the economy, the 2008 meltdown and the history of the Euro. This is the best exposition I have read, it left me gasping for air.  Varoufakis looks at postwar European history through the lens of global monetary policy, from Bretton Woods to the ongoing reverberations of the euro crisis. And a powerful lens it is too, to help us understand the turbulence we are witnessing today and why the Euro is a busted flush. Thank God we didn’t join (3)

The book is divided roughly in two parts. It begins with the post-war economic decisions America and Europe took, the role Bretton Woods played for the future of the world in general, the reversal under the Nixon Shock of 1971, and the realities of the current Eurozone and Federal Reserve systems.
The second part deals with the 2008 financial crisis and its impact on Europe (crippled by the very monetary union that was supposed to shield it when such events happen), and what the people in charge ended up doing to make it much worse. In this, Varoufakis is unrelenting in his criticism, but it always backed up by solid economic logic. He saves the most biting of his words on the bureaucrats and politicians of the EU who used the bailout to save the banks, but left the bills to the people. And not just any people, but the weakest people in the weakest of nations (not just Greece, but Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Italy).

I won’t go into detail but here’s one thing; Quantatitive Easing – the printing of electronic money to be pumped into banks and other institutions ( supposed to kickstart the economy but just helps company shares and upmarket property portfolios)

In the EU it is shared out on a GDP basis; therefore Germany – which needs it least – gets the Lion’s Share – and the poor relations like Greece and Portugal get the leftovers.

After reading this you will agree the Euro in its present format – and probably the whole EU – is doomed.

Cricket? Who gives a toss?


I have a confession to make; I like going to watch county cricket. With spring in the air and a new season looming I have already earmarked likely first and second eleven fixtures on my multi-coloured computer desktop calendar.

I am delighted to see Lancashire and Liverpool Cricket Club appear to have got over their recent spat and a fixture has been allocated to the city’s Aigburth ground even though it is a Royal London cup one-dayer. Despite the contraction of fixtures into cricketing centres and away from outgrounds, the Red Rose still flies the flag with games at Blackpool, Southport and Liverpool. Lancs survival from relegation last year means no bi-annual trek for the fixture with Glamorgan at Colwyn Bay though.

There is little to beat a packed outground on a balmy summer’s day; certainly not sitting alone with a rucksack of sarnies in one of our cavernous Test venues.

I dusted off Duncan Hamilton’s love letter to cricket the other day – A Last English Summer. This doomsday tome envisages 2009 being the last true summer before it all implodes in a T20 galactic supernova. In fact every season since then has seen commentators bemoan crash bang cricket, central contracts, mercenaries and kolpak insurgents.

Hamilton waxes lyrical about the Golden Age of Constantine, Hobbs and Bradman although I’m pretty sure he’s not old enough to have seen any of them. However he superbly catches the deep pull of nostalgia and I am sure sees himself as the literary successor to Cardus and Allott and has worn out his dvd of Death of a Gentleman.

Everyone has a view on the future of the game;  from the crusties who are clinging to tradition like a starving trucker grasping a Yorkie, to the cash obsessed suits at the ECB who scrabble for cash like a beggar rooting around a dustbin.

However times do move on and there is little point thinking that we should be stuck in some sort of timewarp. I agree with him that the long form game is now just a mere trifle to be cut, sliced and crumbled in favour of the right Eton Mess of T20.

The question is; what to do about it? The CC has been allowed to stagnate with little support, marketing or direction. I asked Lancashire’s commercial director five years ago to implement a staggered payment regime for county games to attract the walk-in customer. Last year they finally implemented £15 all day, tenner after lunch and a fiver for the last session.

But does more need to be done?

I now refer to the case for the prosecution. Last August on a bright, searing day I was at Old Trafford to see the last days of the Roses encounter which dangled the carrot of a thrilling finale.

Lancs began the morning intent on setting the auld enemy a target to chase. The precocious Haseeb Hameed wrote himself into the record books with a glorious second century of the match.  The 19 year old shook off his Wall of Bolton nickname to dab and carve his way to 100 not out.  

The declaration left a target of 367 in 71 overs. Surely Yorkshire, hanging on to Middlesex’s coat-tails in the CC title race, would give it a go? Lees and Lyth kept the scoreboard ticking over during the afternoon. At 4 p.m. no wickets down and 219 required off 30. Time for tea. What happened during the break is pure speculation. Afterwards with 180 required off 20 the dig in began. Fifteen runs off  five overs after tea.

I said to a couple of Tykes nearby that this unfathomable act of cowardice could well cost them their championship. It did.

I was amazed with so much on the line that the game was allowed to fizzle out. In other cases the last afternoon safe draw is often commonplace.

Tradition maybe but surely it is time to punish the bore draw. Either no points for those who perpetrate a stalemate or ban draws American-style.

Surely better marketing is needed too but the plan to virtually stop all CC in the summer holidays looks akin to sabotage.

Something has to change if county cricket is to remain relevant.

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British Gas asked my mother if they could install a smart meter that would enable her to monitor her energy usage. She asked my advice. I had only just heard a BG advert on the radio proclaiming that smart meter customers now get free electricity between 9-5 on a Saturday or Sunday. Good idea, I said. My mother has now had the meter installed. She does not get free electricity at the weekend. Why? She is a prepayment customer. You know, they type that are usually a bit less well off than anyone else. British Gas quoted me – ‘technical difficulties’ in delivering the service to prepayment meters. I call it discrimination against the poor. The fact they don’t offer another kind of discount is corporate repulsivesness at its worst.


WE’RE DOOMED! On course for financial collision

Paper Promises by Philip Coggan


Doomsday merchants think something like a stratospheric asteroid will hit the planet and crumble us to dust. Real armageddon is likely to come in another form – the collapse of the current financial system. It’s not a case of if, but when. Coogan is a former FT journalist and is a columnist at The Economist and certainly no swivel-eyed prophet-of-doom. The book spells out what got us into this mess and the only ways out – and they are not good. There will be a financial realignment which could incluide currencies, hyperinflation or even a new system. The levels of debt can now never be repaid. The catastrophe could possibly be triggered by China calling in its U.S. debts. Current monetary policies championed by Bank of England buffoon Mark Carney are merely  putting off the crisis till tomorrow. Zero interest rates and printing money means we are ultimately heading one way – and it ain’t up. Consider the FTSE 100 share index is virtually at an all time high – while productivity and growth are on the floor. This is the classic sign of an asset bubble not based on sound underlying growth. In the past two weeks I have liquidated all shares I owned – getting out while they are making a profit. Coggan warned a parliamentary select committee that pensions are in dire trouble – my children almost certaibnly will not have a State pension to look forward to. The politicians will put off what needs doing. That’s what they always do. s I don’t know where, I don’t know when but I know we’ll meet our end some sunny day.


Oh what a joy it is to be alive; Britain’s jobs are booming, share prices are through the roof and low interest rates means cheap mortgages galore. Of course this isn’t the real economy – this isn’t GDP and productivity and making value of something that comes out of the ground.
Happily Theresa May has now acknowledged that the quantative easing and low interest rate policies are out of date and should be booted out (along with Bank of England supremo Mark Carney.)
This managing of monetary policy reminds me of a short story by American writer Howard Fast. In his jolly tale a magic bin was invented whereby all your household rubbish disappeared. It was incredible, he was lauded from Alaska to Arkansas. Then, a few months later cracks started appearing in the sidewalks of New York city and before long the paving erupted into huge terrifying mountains of household rubbish.
You see, masking the problems by certain magical techniques only postpones the inevitable. And the people in charge know this – only the likes of Osborne and Carney will have ridden off into their gold-plated sunsets by the time Satan calls in the numbers.
So what is needed in an intervention that allows the market to act as it should be doing and not by massaging interest rates. Yes, it will hurt but a correction now is better than catastrophe in the future.
Low interest rates and quantative easing have fuelled an asset and property bubble that will burst – only we need to let the air out slowly.