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After Saturday’s thrilling finale to the NatWest T20 Blast we should all be focusing on celebrating Northamptonshire’s miraculous victory against the odds. Forget Leicester City, a club owned by Thai billionaires, the Steelbacks are an underdog without caveat. Not only are they millions in debt and constantly having their best players snatched away by bigger clubs, but their own governing body would rather they weren’t in the competition. Because much like the West Indies last year, sport has once again conspired to prove the ECB’s tough talking chairman wrong. The competition that Colin Graves openly denounced as mediocre was at its death contested by two teams who would never be invited into his proposed eight team ‘city-based’ T20 super league.

Unlike most people whose hackles are raised by the idea of an elite tournament that bypasses the established first-class sides, I am no great follower of the County Championship. However I believe that the ‘English Premier League’ proposal is a stupid idea that ignores the T20 Blast’s strengths, misidentifies why it hasn’t achieved the same objectives as the IPL or Big Bash, goes against basic principles of English sport and fails to seize the unique opportunity presented to all sports by the Sky/BT battle for supremacy.

Here’s eight thoughts on the future of T20 Cricket in the UK.

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Today marks the return of English Test Cricket after an unusually long break. It sadly begins with a series that pretty nobody cares about. Many of the biggest names in West Indian cricket are playing in the IPL and English fans have been so conditioned by the media and reality to ignore any game that isn’t against one of ‘The Big Three’.

It’s hard to overstate what a sad decline this is for the West Indies. They used to be the biggest box office attraction in world cricket and even today their batsmen wow Indian fans in the IPL. But since the late-nineties their team has imploded. Often the blame is put on misadministration but the reality is that West Indian cricket has always been badly run with poor facilities and low wages being the norm. The saving grace was that players such as Learie Constantine in the 1920s, Sir Viv Richards in the 1970s and Brian Lara in the 1990s were able to earn a living and gain notoriety whilst playing professional cricket in England. I was not a cricket fan growing up but I always remember my Uncle Don being glued to Warwickshire as Lara made his first and the only 500 in the history of First Class cricket.

Not only were they ticket-sellers for their club or county sides but the experience they gained made the West Indians a stronger side. The easy pathway to playing in England convinced young West Indians that cricket was a viable career and the experience those that made the trip gained was invaluable. Imagine how much better would the modern-day West Indian Test side be if their players had several years at an English county under their belt? How much more would we all be looking forward to England’s tour of the West Indians in such a scenario?

The answers to both questions show how self-defeating the ECB’s xenophobic rules on who can play in the County Championship are.

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This week has marked the start of the Indian Premier League, the all-conquering colossus that as a condition of being a British passport holder and a cricket fan I’m meant to dismiss as a great corrupting force in our honourable game. And there’s no doubt that the IPL has warped the game of cricket in ways that are unwelcome or that the BCCI too often wields it power to its own benefit. It is however increasingly hard not to accept that the England and Cricket Wales Board are the true villains of the piece.

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