In the weeks preceeding the announcement of Full Membership for Ireland and Afghanistan I submitted a piece for publication with the title, “It’s life Jim but not as we know it.”
In it I argued that the prospect of Test status meant little to the average club member whom I contended cared little for much that took place outside his own club’s boundary rope and whose interest in the bigger picture was limited to ‘what’s in it for me/us.’
Indeed it wasn’t long after the announcement was made that for the average Joe it had indeed turned out to be a bit of a curate’s egg.
Yes there was more money, but no, not as much as was thought.
Yes it will filter down to and through the Unions, but no, not just yet.
A clear message that Joe shouldn’t be holding his breath was evident as reality set in across the land.
The shopping list was long we were told. There were ongoing commitments in terms of facilities both home and abroad.
And of course we would need someone to advise us on how to spend the money if and when it arrives!
The Interprovincial competition has, when viewed from afar, delivered the First-class structure that was a pre-requisite for the Full Membership application. It has done so at an enormous, if necessary cost, but been dogged by the imbalance of playing resources across the island, which the inclusion of ‘Munster’ in the T20 format (initially) has done nothing to address. A decision which was conceded to be ‘political’ rather than based on any cricketing logic.
The calls for two Leinster sides be they North, South or an independent Fingal have seemingly again been ignored and the fixtures now appearing show no movement towards an enlargement or realigning of the competition. Given that is the case I would suggest that the time has come for a total overhaul of the system.
What we have at present is something which pays lip-service to the former Interprovincial set-up going back to the Guinness Cup days, to a time when all the participants were week-end cricketers and playing for a place on the National side. There was an interest then in how your clubmates were getting on but truthfully, as now, it was not something that put bums on seats.
If we are seeking value for money, return on investment and the other corporate buzz-words that appear in mission statements and the like then we must accept Dr (Bones) McCoy’s word for it that ‘he’ is indeed dead.
Perhaps the time has come for Cricket Ireland to remove the Interprovincial Competitions from the present thrust to ‘empowerment of the provincial unions’ and use it for its own ‘selfish’ purpose, i.e. the improvement of the National team.
I argue that a fully franchised four team competition must surely be better than the current system which precludes players clearly capable of performing at this higher level and includes others clearly not.
Let us have the best 60 players in the country split across four sides, no borders, no hometown affiliations, a chance to include the Wolves and the best of the Youth that are clearly in line of succession.
Would the average Joe turn up to watch the ‘best v best’ that has been talked about for so long but never yet achieved?
Perhaps not, but then he isn’t turning up to watch now either.