Cricket has long lived in the shadow of football in Liverpool but things could be changing as Twenty20 makes its debut on Merseyside.

 

This June Lancashire’s superstars will make their way to Liverpool Cricket Club as their Old Trafford home prepares to receive a makeover.

 

It is hoped the arrival of Twenty20 cricket will help boost the sport which often loses out to other sports.

“We get a game once or twice a year but this is the first time we’ll be having a Twenty20 match,” said Junior Development Officer for Liverpool CC, Tony White. “The county championship matches normally attract about 3,500 people which is actually more than they get at Old Trafford.”

 

Early ticket sales for the match have been promising with many of the 4,500 tickets already sold and the club are hoping to increase the capacity further.

 

The match against Leicestershire Foxes will see stars such as Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson take to the field for Lancashire Lightning while South African hero Boeta Dippenaar plays for the Foxes.

 

This uptake is in stark contrast to the general feeling that Cricket struggles to compete with sports such as football and rugby league. “Liverpool suffers from a lack of facilities and a lack of coaching. Clubs in Liverpool are over-attended if anything and more capacity is what we need. But to get more capacity you need more coaches,” added Mr White.

 

Mr White gave more reasons for why cricket suffered in Liverpool; “There’s also the factor that cricket isn’t really a game you can play on terraced streets. You need a wide open space to play cricket really and this is a problem.”

The Twenty20 game could mark the beginning of an increasing role for Liverpool in Lancashire Cricket Club’s calendar, as Old Trafford renovations get into full swing. Lancashire aren’t the first team to take their home games on the road. Teams such as Glamorgan are known for playing matches all over Wales, away from their Cardiff home.

 

There has been much debate over the benefits of Twenty20 since its creation and Mr White feels that there is a generation gap when it comes to the popularity of the format but has high hopes for the future of the traditional game.

 

“The youngsters prefer to play Twenty20 but I don’t like it as much because it’s such a different style of play. I think we’ll go full circle and the full length game will become popular again one day,” added Mr White. As a result of the popularity of the format on the professional stage, amateur cricketers now enjoy Twenty20 competitions across the UK.

 

Despite the rapid rise of Twenty20 cricket, Tony White feels that cricket will still struggle to compete with football on Merseyside. “There’s no chance we can catch up with football, they’re light years ahead of us in terms of advertising and facilities. The more people who play the more it will catch on so football can double its following faster. It’s like an upside-down triangle, you start at the bottom and  as you go up it gets bigger and bigger. We’re at the bottom of that triangle,” concluded Mr White.  

 

Lancashire’s usual Manchester home, Old Trafford, is undergoing a huge makeover which will see the capacity rise to a potential 25,000. The revamp is coming following the North West’s omission from the forthcoming Ashes calendar and a lack of first class internationals at the ground for the foreseeable future. Officials hope that the addition of a new drainage system, conference centre and increased capacity can help attract more internationals to the North West.

 

So could we see Lancashire eating into the fan base of Liverpool, Everton or St. Helens? This certainly provides them with their best chance to do so but only time will tell. However, it seems that it will take more than the visit of some cricketing superstars to bring cricket to the fore on Merseyside.

 

The Twenty20 cup match between Lancashire Lightning and the Leicestershire Foxes  is set to take place on June 22nd. With tickets selling out at an unprecedented rate, organisers have been urging fans to buy tickets soon or face missing out.

 

 

 

 

 

Liverpool has Twenty20 Vision

By Jack Davies, Deputy Sports Editor

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