The ECB…Where’d The W Go? Something has been bothering me for a while now, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Why the hell is the England and Wales Cricket Board officially and popularly abbreviated to ECB. Where’d the W Go?
The Lord’s-Based governing body was set up on New Year’s Day in 1997 as an amalgamation of previous bodies to be a modern organisation capable of moving the domestic cricket game into the 21st Century, on the sporting side as well as the business side. Arguably they’ve been successful in their endeavours, hosting World Cup’s, winning an Ashes Series and bringing in millions of pounds in sponsorship and ticketing revenue to further aid the sport’s protracted growth. It is however, a governing body which oversees the game in both England and Wales as the full name suggests. So why the altered abbreviation?
Of course, the English cynics amongst you may start to state we have a chip on our shoulders and that it’s irrelevant, but how can anyone seriously expect to gain core support in a region that has been unsubtly deleted from the team badge. Cricket does not enjoy the cult status in Wales that it does across the Severn Bridge, only attracting that hardcore element you tend to find sitting in the rain during a drab and dull county championship game in an half-empty ground. Evidence of this can be seen during the Ashes’ Series. As someone who resided in England during the famous ‘05 series, it seemed everyone was talking about spin, swing and Freddie Flintoff’s latest injury crises. The pubs do brisk business just by switching on a couple of television sets and the workplaces are alive the male version of gossip – Sports talk. So why is the England team treated passively in a country it’s supposedly meant to be representing. It is surely all in the name. Max Clifford and his all his PR skills would not be able to market an ‘England’ brand within the borders of Offa’s Dyke. No Welsh sports fan, brought up in a country where Anglo-Welsh rugby and football games have always elicited fierce patriotism, can get behind a team named England. A similar situation would be the West Indies operating as Jamaica. The Grenadian’s and Trinidadians would never accept such a thing.
The 2009 Ashes Test in Cardiff went off without relative controversy, safe for a few boo’s when God Save The Queen played, and helped to bring this anomaly to the consciousness of casual cricketing observers. There was something unusual at seeing an England team play ‘at home’ in Wales. If they want cricket to ever catch on in the principality a welcome start would be the reinstatement of the ‘W’ into the abbreviation or an acknowledgment of Wales in the team name. When the ‘Welsh Taffia’ came to power within the corridors of Lords in 2004, there was hope that the issue would be resolved, but chairman David Morgan’s plans have yet to come to fruition. The issue has even gained support of prominent Englishmen, ex-Chairman of Selectors David Graveney stating in 2004 that the “point David Morgan makes is a very valid one. The full title is the England and Wales Cricket Board but its never stated like that”. A further possible solution is an independent Welsh Cricket board complete with its own competing team. With Ireland and Scotland making recent World Cup appearances, Wales has been conspicuous in its absence, most people missing the point that Wales have ‘technically’ been at every Cup. Just not in name.
The bigwigs are becoming more commercial and market-savvy in these sporting capitalist times, but surely they are missing a potential merchandising goldmine. The Welsh are known for how they get behind their national teams through the good and the bad. A major boost to the international home games is the casual and passive fan, not particularly well tuned on the nuances of the game, but hooked on “supporting the boys and supporting their country”. Adding that small ‘W’ to the official badges, giving some recognition of the Welsh contribution, will surely enable everyone to benefit in the long term. Increased support for the England and Wales cricket team, increased merchandise sales, and an increase player-pool from a possible player-boom in the valleys who would now have models to look up to. Everyone would benefit…but this idea is of too much common sense to ever be implemented by those in charge.