The chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) believes the nations maiden World Cup success provides the perfect platform for cricket to ascend in the country’s consciousness.
After three final’s defeats, England ended their storied World Cup drought with their first ever success in a remarkable encounter at Lord’s on Sunday.
The showpiece occasion was simulcast on terrestrial television; the first time International cricket has had such exposure in the UK since the fabled Ashes series of 2005.
It comes as no surprise then, to learn that the viewing figures for the final were the highest recorded on UK television since the Summer of 2005.
Since assuming the role of ECB supremo in 2015, Tom Harrison’s mission statement has been two-fold. Firstly, to achieve World Cup success and secondly, to increase the status and participation in the sport nationwide.
Harrison believes that with the former goal now firmly ticked off, the time is right to begin the steady assault on the latter.
“To win the World Cup on home soil is a very special thing, and to do it the way it went down was extraordinary. It captured the imagination of the nation,” Harrison told the PA.
“I thought I’d seen everything but isn’t it wonderful how sport comes along on the biggest stage of all and delivers that kind of ending? What I do know is we’ve now got a wonderful opportunity to grow the game on the back of these sensational cricketers.
“This was a huge adrenaline shot for the game, and it gives us a massive chance to take those plans forward really quickly.”
“The fans came out in their droves for the World Cup, and the diversity, the colours, the vibrancy of the audience has been absolutely brilliant.
“The diversity of our team is reflective of how our country is, and we can be very proud of them.
“We have a plan in place called ‘inspiring generations’ and it’s all about getting kids playing more in school, getting the women’s and girl’s game transformed and engaging with the South Asian community,
“I think The Hundred is a brilliant opportunity. It’s all about growing the game, making it more straight forward to understand and making it more inclusive.
“It’s about bringing people in who, for whatever reason, don’t feel part of it.”
The aforementioned Hundred will be the cornerstone of the ECB’s plans with prime-time terrestrial television confirmed for a select number of games.
The competition is set to launch in July 2020, with the switch to City-based teams and a simplified format key to their hopes of attracting a wider audience.
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