Iain Murray is entitled to his views (MW July 6), but they betray a fundamental lack of understanding about the need for cricket to market itself in the 21st century.
Murray says cricket is “best enjoyed with the help of a little knowledge”. Well, since he is under the false impression that “MCC” stands for “Middlesex county cricket club”, he cannot be accused of having exceeded the average schoolboy’s level of cricket nous. It’s astonishing that Murray proclaims “marketing and sport do not mix”. Is he implying that some products and services require marketing, while others do not?
Cricket, like anything else, does not have a divine right to be popular. The world has moved on, and so have consumers’ expectations. Research indicates that the public wants an all-round entertainment experience and the innovations which the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is introducing this year at Cornhill Test matches (in conjunction with Channel 4), and during the NatWest one-day international series, are designed to provide an enhanced customer experience – and are marketed as such.
The reggae concert during the lunch interval at the Lord’s Test against the West Indies – to which Murray objects so vociferously – was one such innovation. We knew that it would not necessarily be to everybody’s liking but, from the largely supportive feedback we’ve received, it’s clear most people welcomed the initiative.
Murray accuses cricket of entering a “mephistophelean” pact with C4. Few agree with him. I’m delighted to say there has been an overwhelmingly positive reaction to C4’s coverage of Test cricket. For the record, C4 recently won a Bafta and Royal Television Society award for the outstanding quality of its cricket coverage.
Cricket and marketing are inextricably linked.
The ECB’s marketing initiatives do not in any way devalue the intrinsic nature and spirit of the game. They are aimed at broadening cricket’s appeal and attracting a new generation of players, viewers and spectators. The marketing challenge is to do this without alienating too many traditional followers, and this is a challenge that ECB marketing director Terry Blake is facing up to very positively.
Director of corporate affairs
England & Wales Cricket Board
Alas, the fault for misconstruing MCC lies not at Iain’s door, but that of our production team. For which, apologies to all concerned. MCC stands, of course, for Marylebone Cricket Club – Ed