Twenty20 – Sustainable Cricket?

This week has been a bad one for the newest form of our most dearly beloved game. It seemed that 2008 was the absolute watershed moment for the T20 format. The first season of the IPL, the Stanford Millions competition in the West Indies, and of course the T20 World Cup, won, appropriately, by India. But 2009, and particularly this past week, has proved a real test for the form known as ‘Hollywood Cricket’

The man at the center of all of this is the American businessman Allan Stanford. Back in 2008 Stanford famously rolled into the home of cricket, Lords, with a basket full of money, and won quick friends.

His inaugural tournament, at the ground named in his honor in Antigua, saw a bunch of West Indian teams, play the best County side in England, and the England cricket team itself. From the get-go the competition had the real feeling of a farce. Why were West Indian players playing for a team called Stanford Superstars? Why would a national team involve itself in what was set-up as a franchise competition? The answer was of course the mighty dollar…in fact $20 Million or so.

The first sign of problems should have been that the game of cricket was being sold-out to a man who professed to have no interest in the actual game. But the cash strapped West Indians, and for some reason the Poms, jumped straight into bed with the Texan. Another sign of the problems with Stanford was the extraordinary footage of the billionaire cavorting with the English players wives during a competitive game.

But still, although the players made it clear that the situation was becoming increasingly uncomfortable, the lure of the mighty T20, and the dollars that came with it were too much to refuse.

When word first came out last week that Stanford’s millions were in fact based largely on fraud, it really should have come as no surprise. Suddenly the egg on the face of cricket administrators was so apparent, that even they couldn’t shrug it off. Much has now been written about the incredible lengths that the game will go to, to attract corporate funding. The cash cow of T20 was previously unquestioned. Now, of course, the Stanford Millions will be called off, and reports suggest that many of the West Indian players had been talked into investing their prize money back into Stanford’s fraudulent business practices, thus they now had not even the dollars to show for it.

Another blow to T20 is the increasing range of players who are nominally pulling out of the upcoming IPL tournament. Already Australian stars Mitchell Johnson and Michael Clarke have reaffirmed their disinterest with the competition, and now Ricky Ponting, who was admittedly quite poor for the Kolkata Knight Riders, has pulled out. With the cricket schedule so packed, it is increasingly going to be a conscience call for players juggling monetary and national interests. In fact, speaking of juggling, what is to be said of the England cricket team, who heard of their upcoming riches after they had been allowed to be involved in the IPL, and then subsequently got skittled for 51 by one of the weakest teams in the world. Surely players are now seeing that perhaps the juggling act is increasingly difficult. What seemed easy money is now certainly something else.

T20 came around incredibly quickly. Sure it has had a life at English county level for quite some time, but the fact we had an international world cup and the inaugural franchise competition so soon after the game’s inception, is extraordinary. I wonder about the true longevity of the shortest game. The games are certainly exiting, but there is little room for subtlety or intrigue, players either smash it and get a boundary, or smash it and get out. If one of the major arguments against ODI’s has been their sameness, surely the same is only multiplied in T20. For every ‘David Warner’ Moment, there is a myriad of relative sameness. Smash…Six…Smash…Out.

As money dries up worldwide the only real incentive to be involved in the game will diminish also. So far there are no real outcomes to one-off International T20’s as we have seen between Australia and South Africa and New Zealand, this summer. These games are almost International Friendlies, as the main attraction for the game has been the IPL and its riches. But, as I stated, if the dollars dry up, or are lost in fraudulent situations such as that of Allan Stanford, then not only will the administrators have to think about the real purpose of the game, but they will also have to question their decision-making before they jump into bed with any gung ho businessman with a buck.

Three Foodie Attractions You Must Try in Bristol, England

Bristol, located in South West England is a centre for local food initiatives in the United Kingdom. Their Food Policy Council is dedicated to ensuring the people of Bristol have food that is healthy, delicious, good for the environment, affordable, and profitable to the people who grow it. In June of 2012, they are hosting the first ever Food Conference in the UK, as well as the largest farmer’s market in the UK.

During your stay in Bristol, you will have a veritable cornucopia of culinary delights from which to choose. You can stay for a week, and eat every meal at a different award-winning restaurant. However, there are three foods that you absolutely must try while you are in Bristol.

Sweet Treats

First, visit Guilbert’s Chocolates Ltd. In business for over 100 years, they are located in the oldest commercial building in Bristol, a short distance away from the Bristol Hotel. The Foster rooms, the new location of Guilbert’s Chocolates, were the home of John Foster, a merchant during the 15th century. Guilbert’s makes all of its chocolate by hand, using the same methods (with a few updates for electricity) as when they were originally founded. You can buy boxed collections, or select individual chocolate creams, truffles or fondants before deciding which treats are your favourites.

Locally Eats

The second thing to try is not a single food, but rather, a category of food. Bristol is extremely active in the local foods movement for many reasons; they are active in:

  • Encouraging the use of locally-grown, sustainable food
  • Hosting a range food-based events
  • Urban food producing initiatives

If you would like to browse through the selection of fresh local foods available, you can visit one of Bristol’s farmer’s markets held every Wednesday or the first Sunday of the month. Locally-sourced food is also used in many eateries, including several Bristol hotel restaurants. To go one step further than simply locally-grown food, you can also dine at The Lido Restaurant, the Glassboat Restaurant, and Spyglass, each of which share a garden dedicated for use in their delectable dishes. The Lido Restaurant, for instance, creates ever-changing menus based upon what the garden produces. You can learn more about environmentally sound cooking at the restaurant and cooking school, Bordeaux Quay.

Pie, Please

The third food to be sure you must try while in Bristol is pie. Yes, I said pie. Bristol loves its pies, having two locations of the popular Pieminister restaurant and shop. They offer a wide variety of meat pies, vegetarian pies, seasonal pies, and sweet pies which make for excellent eat-in or take-out lunches, dinners, or desserts. But if you can try only one pie, you should make sure to try the classic sweet pie, the toffee apple pie. The Old City location of Pieminister is located near both Guilbert’s Chocolates and the Bristol Hotel, although after eating both sweets, you may want to take a roundabout route back to your hotel to walk off all those calories.

Discover Cornwall and the South West Coast

Cornwall has an array of wonderful sights and hands-on experiences for children attending primary school. Travel to the south coast of England and let your pupils explore one of the world’s largest conservatories and indulge themselves in this diverse Mediterranean landscape. The quaint towns that dot the coastline are typical examples of traditional fishing villages nestled comfortably in the stunning scenery.

A primary school travel group will have endless opportunity to discover the many interesting aspects of this county. The Innovative Eden Project stands out as a major attraction and the Tate Art Gallery in St Ives houses a marvellous display of fine contemporary art. There are also the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Gardens that are well worth a visit and free for students. St Ives is a beautiful town to spend a day exploring the cobbled streets and winding alleys that are typical of the Cornish towns.

The Eden Project

The Eden Project welcomes primary school travel groups and offers some very exciting opportunities for pupils to learn, engage in workshops and experience the innovative ideas that brought this project to life. There are thousands of different plant species grown here and these are intermingled with unusual and modern art and architectural sculptures. The purpose-built education centre stands out as a living classroom and makes The Eden Project an even more attractive destination. A specialised education team on site means you can bring your group to attend organised workshops that are packed full of new learning experiences for pupils of all ages.

Once an old china clay quarry, this site, which is as big as 30 football pitches, has been transformed into tropical, futuristic greenhouses housing a museum of nature that aims to teach visitors about the delicate relationship man has with his natural world.

There is more to Cornwall

Cornwall is not only famous for its flora, but is also home to Newquay Zoo, an award-winning zoo housing over one hundred species of animals. Go wild and visit the big cats at lunchtime, have fun and join an activity trail, or take notes and listen to one of the animated zookeeper talks. From creepy crawlies to penguins, wildebeest to red pandas, the animals here come from all over the world. In the tropical rainforest exhibit, pupils can learn about the world’s largest and most fragile ecosystem and interact with its different environments, and a visit to Toad Hall teaches about the threat to many of the world’s amphibians today.

A different and interesting excursion is to The National Lobster Hatchery, one of the very few research laboratories focusing on marine biology that opens its doors to visitors. Education at every level is catered for and primary school travel groups can gain a wealth of information from the group sessions given here. Pupils can begin to understand the need for conservation and sustainable fishing if the fisheries are going to survive their current situation. Stock enhancement programmes are developed here and sustainability issues are comprehensively researched.

Being a coastal county Cornwall has a rich maritime history. The National Maritime museum dedicated to the celebration of the sea is a fascinating place to spend an afternoon. The museum is now engaging in more research and exploring under the sea too.

A beautiful place to stay with easy access to some educational and enjoyable attractions, Cornwall is a great option for primary school travel.