Cow Corner

Overkill !!

Cow Corner

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What is the biggest problem with baseball?

Before you answer that question, we would like to say that Cowers doesn't mind baseball as a sport.

The game has a similar ebb and flow to Test cricket and the battle of skilled bowlers/pitchers against batsmen/hitters and all the different nuances that entails are not poles apart.

They even go off for rain!

But does Cowers watch baseball apart from the World Series. No. And the reason is that each team plays 162 games during the season.

Does it matter if your team wins or loses? Well not really. The best team in the Major Leagues last year won 96 games. The worst team won 66. That means every team wins between four and six of every ten matches.

Sport should be all about competition and the punishment for losing a MLB game for four fifths of a season is minimal.

To make it worse after flogging the regular season to death, the winner of the World Series can be decided in as little as 11 post-season matches.

At least the MLB have an excuse, baseball is America's pastime. It's something traditionally played out every afternoon before a few shift workers, vagrants and others who don't have a proper job.

The England and Wales Cricket Board have no such excuse after yesterday's announcement that the inaugural English Premier League will be followed by a complementary Twenty20 League.

The 20-team EPL will take place in June, split into two divisions with each team playing nine matches before the "finals weekend" renders what had gone before incidental.

The Twenty20 League that follows smacks of after the Lord's Mayor's Show. Unless the Future Tours Programme is scrapped pretty sharpish, the League is likely to be missing all the top Test players from the EPL and will serve as a qualifier for yet another competition, the Champions League.

All in all it means each county will play a minimum of 17 Twenty20 games. Worcestershire chief executive, Mark Newton, conceded yesterday that "Twenty20 overkill was the biggest worry we had as a group." He's not kidding.

The ECB made one grave mistake - they asked the public and we all know the general public know nothing. Why canvass opinion from a society that is all about the now without due consideration to the consequences. Whatever happened to the "bigger picture".

The administrators (said in our finest Richie voice) had an opportunity to do something genuinely exciting with six, seven, eight or nine franchises featuring the very best players and playing just enough games to keep us all begging for more.

Everyone was excited about the opening game of the IPL but how many people were sticking around by the time we got to the 43rd game in three weeks.

Yet again parochialness has got in the way of progress. A few years ago Rugby League wanted to merge small teams to form regional franchises to transcend their usual catchment area.

How we laughed as outsiders when the likes of Featherstone and Castleford caused uproar and foiled the idea to preserve their "history" rather than form a Kirkless superpower.

But now the ECB has done the same with the entire structure in place to service the likes of small counties like Worcestershire and Derbyshire rather than the common good.

They have maintained the status quo in more than one regard. There is a very good chance once the novelty wears off that half of these Twenty20 games will be played at ramshackled county good frequented with one man and his dog.

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Without a hint of irony the England & Wales Cricket Board announced yesterday that future Test series between South Africa and England have been granted 'icon' status.

And this means of course - more cricket!

The forthcoming Test series to be played in South Africa in 2009-10 between the two countries will consist of five Test matches rather than the four being played in the current series.

How long before international cricketers go on tour with their kit coffin and an Iron lung?

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "He (Flintoff) will bat at number seven, and then the decision will be made whether we go for four bowlers or five," Michael Vaughan hints that Tim Ambrose is poised to become England's worst number six since chairman of selectors Geoff Miller got the boot.

FEEDBACK OF THE DAY: "20-20's exciting, but is it real cricket? No, but it's where the money is," vllles hits the nail on the head.

TALKING POINT: Throw in your two cents about the EPL!!

LIVE: The County Championship is in full swing. Check out the latest with our scorecards.

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