Today, the E.C.B. has announced that £30 million will be ploughed into the county game and upwards of 2000 community clubs across the country. This money is primarily going to be used to update venues of all 18 first-class counties, to ensure that international standard floodlights are installed. For leading county grounds there is the added bonus of improved drainage.
County cricket always takes second place to internationals and rightfully so; but it doesn't need to be as far behind as it is currently. With the advent of 20/20 cricket, the financial benefits and increased popularity associated with floodlit cricket have been further confirmed. More floodlights mean more day-night matches. More day-night matches mean more spectators and more money for the game. This money then can be reinvested into bigger and better things.
As with all investment, it needs to be carried out thoroughly and short cuts shouldn't be considered. Let's for example, take a look at the county ground, Bristol. In 2007, it staged a day-night ODI between England and India (India ending up winners by 9 runs). This match was played with four small floodlights all at one side of the ground. This would be an unacceptable waste of funding if such an arrangement was to be made to make this a permanent. If floodlights are to be installed, they should look to install big towers all around the ground, such as those used in Australia. This would make viewing and playing much easier.
Part of the E.C.B’s long-term county reformation plan will see large international grounds, such as Old Trafford, being entitled to funding for better drainage. It would be good to see this on a par with the standards at Lords. Such drainage would be fantastic and would clearly allow for much more cricket to be played.
Is it fair however, that non-international grounds shouldn't have improved drainage? County grounds such as Glamorgan, Derbyshire and Worcestershire appear to be somewhat neglected due to not being hosts of test matches. This is disappointing to see. All grounds should be improved to allow for as much cricket as possible. It is only right that in this day of sky-high ticket prices and non-terrestrial TV coverage, that the followers of this great game get their money's worth.